Let Them Rejoice in Victory
Everyone wants to win. To quote former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game.” A win, a great play, a goal are reason to celebrate, and that’s what the United States Women’s Soccer team did this weekend with their exciting 2-0 win over the Netherlands to win their fourth World Cup. The issue of celebrating too much and seeming “arrogant”, overboard, and unsportswoman-like has faded away. That happens when you win it all. It started when the US women beat Thailand 13-0 and didn’t let up when the game was clearly out of hand, and they had the nerve to continue to celebrate after every goal. Have you ever watched a men’s soccer match? After every goal there is the long knee slide, the running around the field, arms flailing, hugging teammates. And this is after every goal in every regular season game. This is not once every four years like the World Cup where some of these women get one or two chances in their life to compete in a worldwide championship for their country.
For reference, women don’t have anything on men when it comes to celebrating. Just watch pro football. After every catch, tackle, sack, blocked pass, interception, forget about a touchdown, there is a celebration from flexing for the crowd to pre-rehearsed handshakes that could be set to music. Baseball has a celebration after every home run. There’s the jump and bump, the different slapping, punching handshake for every teammate. If a player gets the game winning, walk off hit, he could actually get hurt by the mugging he gets from his teammates. US team member Alex Morgan got criticized for pretending to sip a cup of tea after a critical goal against England. How insulting. But they’ve all showed a lot of class when asked to respond to the criticism. They could have said, if you don’t like it, beat us.
I’m not offended when women college softball players run out to home plate after every home run, or cheer from the dugout. I have four granddaughters who will have opportunities in athletics that didn’t exist when I was growing up. Our oldest plays softball and basketball. She even watched the women’s college World Series and imitates their windmill windups when we have a catch. It wasn’t until Title IX was passed in 1972 that women had to be treated equally with men in college athletics. Before that, there was no girls’ soccer, softball, lacrosse and other sports as there is today. We should all be celebrating that they are getting exercise, living healthier lives, developing skills, learning leadership and teamwork, making friends they may never have even met if they didn’t get a chance to play on a team.
Sports is just one area in life where women are fighting to be treated equally and fairly. They’re still fighting for it in the workplace and in politics. The US Women’s team has become a rallying point for the country since their big win in 1999, and they’re still suing for equal pay with the men’s team. When Brandi Chastain won the championship with a penalty shootout goal, she ripped off her jersey to reveal the most viewed sports bra in history. It was like she was tearing off the bonds after years of being held back. Whether it’s going to their knees and ripping off a jersey, or politely imitating sipping a cup of tea, it’s a celebration they’ve earned and to which they are entitled. We should all be rising a toast to them. They are us. We celebrated them this past Wednesday in the parade and we should continue to support them. Whether it be the right to celebration or equal pay it is essential that we fight for our female athletes.
A woman ahead of her time taught us about victory years ago. “Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth’s sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when victory is won.” -Louisa May Alcott, Author of “Little Women”