Fans' View

Fans’ View: An inspiration for the boys

Photo: Carli Lloyd at PPL Park after the USWNT won Olympic gold. Photo by Daniel Studio.

I am sorry, but I am tired of hearing people say that the Women’s World Cup was an inspiration for girls everywhere.

That statement belongs back in 1999.

This performance by the American women was inspiring for the boys as well. It was an inspiration to all of us.

My two boys really got into this tournament. I loved hearing them debate if Abby Wambach was stronger than Diego Costa, or ask why they couldn’t get Morgan Brian on FIFA Ultimate Team because she would be “at least an 82 rating.” The best part was that there wasn’t any hint of novelty for them about seeing women compete. They were interested in these players purely for their skills and athletic prowess. The only comparison I heard to the men’s game was that my 8 year old noticed a lot less yellow cards and “complaining to the referee.” Good on him.

A week ago, we heard a caller on a soccer radio show complain that the hype around women’s soccer somehow cheapens the authenticity of the men’s game. Or at least that’s the best summary I could conjure after trying to sort out his ridiculous, chauvinistic rant. It started one of those moments when you wish adults had the same worldview as children.

My sons didn’t get it. “Why doesn’t he like women’s soccer?” “How can people watching girls play be a bad thing for boys who play? That makes literally no sense.” [My boys literally use the word “literally” all the time]. “Why does he get to be on the radio saying that stuff?” I didn’t have any answers other than perhaps that man was transported through a time machine from the 1950s. Frankly I was pretty sad that there were still some people out there who thought that way. Especially in the soccer community, which I always perceive as being a bit more progressive than the average sports fans.

My 8 year old’s team recently had a mixed practice with the girls team. I didn’t hear any of them on either side complain about this change. As a parent, I wonder if it is good for boys and girls to be segregated in soccer at a young age. I wonder if this ideal is imposed on them by adults or if they somehow really benefit from it. I know that the majority of women who played in the 1999 World Cup grew up playing with the boys, and this year’s team has a lot of mixed gender experience. Tobin Heath, for instance, even passed on her senior year in high school to train with a boys soccer team.

For children after adolescence, their physical differences might make some feel more comfortable playing segregated, but before that time, I think both boys and girls could benefit from at least some time playing integrated — if not for their on-field development, then certainly for their off field growth.

Regardless, I’m happy that there was actually a lot less talk about gender during this World Cup. Pundits spent more time analyzing tactics and technical ability than discussing the differences with the men’s game or the off-field relationships of the women. I think it is a great reflection on a changing culture that these boys and their friends weren’t looking at this World Cup as something less than, or even different from, the one last year.

They were just interested in debating if Carli Lloyd was the best soccer player on the planet.

As a New Jersey native myself, I had to be honest: “Yes boys…she is.”


  1. Some great competition out there in the women’s matches. I know I was hooked watching the 2011 final even though they didnt get the win.
    It was interesting to hear sports radio people try to talk about women’s soccer in a positive way this week. Almost sad, really.. like they were apologizing for it.

    • Th way sports talk radio handled the story was to open up discussion about whether soccer had a chance in the U.S. That’s a discussion that seems to me to be just like a bunch of news guys sitting around in 1996 and wondering whether or not people will ever prefer getting their news on the Internet.

      1) Soccer is on an uptrend and all you have to do is look at demographics. Younger people like the game more and more. It’s only going to gain popularity.

      2) As for MLS and whether it will ever become “relevant,” it’s a question of money. The U.S. is generally a pretty nice place to live and if U.S. clubs can compete for players financially, that’s all it will take. I think that will happen eventually. In some ways it’s already started.

      I often think of calling in hen I hear soccer discussed, but then I don’t…. Hosts often have their minds made up already. I’m amazed whenever I hear them talking about soccer at all.

      • Anthony Gargauno handled it pretty well unlike most which either avoided totally as though it were not happening or were woefully misguided….thinking Mike Misanelli.
        All I know…Mount Airy Phil is the only voice in Philly that doesn’t work on my last nerve.

      • Mount Airy Phil is surprisingly good. I listened to him a couple of weeks in a row, before I knew who he was, and liked him.

  2. At my son’s junior high the soccer teams are all co-ed. His comment when I asked what he thought about playing with girls? “I don’t think, I just play” I think that says it all. I also enjoyed the humbling moments watching him get smoked by a girl!

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