All day yesterday, I had been trying to write about how much love and admiration I have for the greatest soccer team, America has ever produced. The 1999 Women’s World Cup Team.. it was the 15th anniversary of their stunning penalty taking triumph.
I was not sure what to say, or even what was left to say.. in 15 years, not much was left to debate, discuss, dissect. Sure I could have written a flowery piece about how much watching the ladies play in the Quarterfinals shaped me or the feeling of dread bordering on tears at Brandi’s own goal followed up by my relief at her redemption in tying the match or my unbridled, emotional meltdown at Joy’s game winner, which I do not recall being spectacular stylistically but it was perfect. Surviving the knock-out round after a disastrous start with 54,000 or so people watching still makes me tingle with pride and joy.
I could have talked about the final.. Michelle Akers, the greatest soccer player America has ever produced, (sorry Landon, it’s not even close) being forced to leave the pitch injured. If you doubt it ask FIFA, they named her Women’s Player of the Century. Her male counter-parts are Pele and Maradonna sharing the title. She also won FIFA Order of Merit the highest honor in world soccer. She is also of course in the US Soccer Hall of Fame. Basically she is EVERY PART OF AWESOME AND BADASS.. [note her twitter feed is as AMAZING as she is. She is a must follow]. Did I mention for those of you who don’t know.. she did it while battling Lime Disease, for which there were not a lot of treatment options at the time. Or there was Kristine Lilly’s perfect world cup saving header off the line, Briana’s penalty stop or Brandi and celebration of the century.
But even those things have been done before.. Nothing really captured what I wanted to say about them. Then twitter blew up last night because a lacrosse and soccer sportswear Warrior manufacturer (a subsidiary of New Balance) decided to let their sexist flag high and proud.
and then doubled-down.. with a tweet about how there are more women’s lacrosse programs in school than men’s and how that was also a #TitleIXProblem and the added #inequality.. no seriously, they did. They actually did and have yet to apologize. At least they did finally delete the tweets about about two hours.
In that two hours, two thinks struck me… first most of the people ripping them apart in response and outraged (at least at the beginning were young guys). They were as outraged and furious as I or any of my feminist girlfriends were, maybe more so.. they were pissed. Seriously they stepped up. Here are a few..
My friend Aristeia summed the situation up best..
She is not wrong.. it totally is.. My second thought was this…
It is true… the great single moment in the history of Title IX was the USWNT winning the World Cup at home in front of 90,000 fans in the stands and millions watching around the world. That entire team was raised as the first generation of Title IX babies where girls/women’s athleticism was equally celebrated, encouraged and required.
Yes, they won the title in 1991 and the Olympics in 1996 but this was wholly different. That night in the stands I was with my then boyfriend who I had to drag to go.. girls playing soccer was not exactly high on his baseball scholarship earning list of priorities… that night was magical.. yes for the win and for the drama but for something much more simply and yet powerful.
I looks at him and said, ” My god all the little kids, girls and boys, are wearing Mia jerseys?” He was completely lost on why this was a big deal. He had been to hundreds of sporting events and you always wore your team’s jersey to him. I had been too many too but like him, they had ALL been male teams competing against male teams. They jerseys were for male athletes.
This tournament has to be the first time in history that a stadium full of people were watching, “girls,” while WEARING THE JERSEY OF A GIRL PLAYER. Little boys were running not even understanding what the revolution they were leading.. Those little boys and girls watching the 1999ers then are now leading the first against sexism in sports as evidenced by their response to Warrior’s madness. Those boys 15 years later are just accustom to women being athletic as part of norm life.
Now of course, there are many guys (and girls sadly) who agreed with he company but many, many, many more did it. Myself and many, people I know have contacted both warrior and its parent company New Balance (a company I have ALWAYS loved for their corporate responsibility) to complain. From reports back, New Balance is taking it seriously even if their subsidiary is not. Warrior apparently was getting hammered today with complaint calls.. after all sexism is bad and bad for business.
The Washington Post’s Des Bieler wrote an article on this matter entitled, “Warrior sports apparel company offers lessons in anti-social media.” In it he writes, that Warrior posted an apology
Here is the thing… it is not on their Twitter Timeline.. there is zero hint of an apology that anyone I have seen has seen. But good lord in even, their website is a misogynist’s wet dream.. SERIOUSLY THESE ARE ACTUALLY ON THEIR website... basically the company motto is, “women not worthy to sell to but totally worthy to sell.” Apparently slavery and human trafficking are comic gold in the lacrosse world.
Now looking father back into their Timeline is this masterpiece of not at all rape-culture promoting marketing masterpiece
Cross the line is their ad campaign…
There is an amazing irony and symmetry in this happening on the 15th Anv of the 1999er winning the World Cup or more appropriately, Title IX’s great single success.
Ultimately what I have come to understand is this.. the true power of Title IX is not teaching girls that being athletic, competitive, strong, determined, self-confident and all the other positive things girls get from sports; it is teaching the boys as well that girls are all of those things and to fight with girls to protect girls’ right to play too.
Thanks to the 92 Congress for passing Title IX, thanks to all the subsequent Congresses who reauthorized it. Thanks to the 199ers for always making us proud and thanks to the guys who stand with women in the fight for equality, thanks to you most of all. As Aristeia said so perfectly, “love the guys on my TL that understand they can be masculine and a feminist. And it’s sexy as hell.”
Now we are 329 Days Away from the 2015 Women’s World Cup.. come on ladies… let’s bring home finally what is rightfully ours. For yourselves, for your country, for the 1999ers who paved your way and for the sexist dbags would still try to stand in your way.