Chicago, IL – So it is that time of year when FIFA World Cup Soccer is upon us. I am not a soccer fan or very knowledgable for that matter about the sport, but what did intrigue me was the FIFA Womens’ World Cup game being played between powerhouse Germany and underdog Canada. I was not interested so much in the game as I was everything it stood for – women’s athletics and women’s team sports and maybe humanities development. I give props to ESPN for even televising this event not only did this game not involve a USA team it also was a woman’s contest both of which are not extremly popular in the US broadcast programming tickets. Here I would challenge major networks to start televising these events particularly in the down sports season that is summer with no traditional US team sports being played like NFL, NHL & NBA games. Networks try it you might find you have a new audiance & potentially hook the international market into one day even watching NFL games – just a suggestion.
There are some stories that simply write themselves and this is one. How ironic that this game was being played in Olympic Stadium in Berlin. For those of you who are younger, Olympic Stadium – Berlin, Germany is where in 1936 one of America’s finest moments occurred on an international level. Jesse Owens an African American won 4 Olympic Gold Medals in track and field for the United States but more importantly he challenged the false beliefs of a dictator’s propoganda of “Aryan racial supremacy”. The stadium itself has not really changed all that much from 1936 but the athletes on the field sure have. The athletes did not posses high testosterone levels yet their competative spirits, sweat, joys, disappointments, skills, teamwork and professionalism were all on display. Outside of the physical what is the difference between male & female athletes? Isn’t competition competition? As a society do we still believe that girls are made of sugar and spice & that they are not capable of killer instinct or the want to win? If so then we are still in our infancy on the evolutionary scales.
I must applaud Germany for not only hosting this event but to my surprise and shame on me, the stadium was filled to it’s capacity of 73,680 rabid soccer crazed fans. This rivals any US Superbowl event in attendance and made me wonder if this was held in the US if the number would be that high for any women’s team sporting event. Part I’m sure of the appeal to soccer is it’s an international game where national pride is on the line and cheering on your countries greatest athletes regardless of gender is a compelling force ala the Olympic games. I guess it is only fitting that Germany be the stage where once archane notions as “Aryan racial supremacy” were dispelled should also be the stage where sports gender predjudice be dispelled as well. for women’s team sports. Whether or not this signals a new frontier for women’s athletics remains to be seen yet it does signal that there is an audiance and a fan base ready to support the female athlete & women’s competitions. Evolutions are slow but any progress on this front is one that will benefit all of humankind.