Have female athletes really come a long way, baby?
Recall the old Virginia Slims cigarette ad campaign: "You've Come A Long Way, Baby."
The message was simple: Now you too, ladies, can smoke! Celebrate!
Sure. Smoking is disgusting, expensive and terrible for those who wish to avoid lung cancer. But it was somehow seen as a blow toward parity with men, who had been killing themselves while making their clothes stink for years.
Women in sports have wanted equal treatment for years now, and in some regards they are getting it. At Wimbledon, for the first time ever, the paycheck for the women's winner now equals the one handed to the men's winner.
Coverage of women's sports has risen steadily, even in cases where nobody has been asking for it. The WNBA consistently delivers the ratings equivalent of a "test pattern" on TV, yet the networks flog it incessantly with promos.
So, have women really "arrived" in a sporting sense?
Not if you examine the absurd "Hope Solo Incident" at the women's World Cup soccer tournament. For those under a rock, here are the basics:
On a roll through the tourney, U.S. head coach Greg Ryan decided to make a goalie switch before the big semifinal against Brazil. It was nothing less than a sentimental gut-hunch, putting in Briana Scurry for the sole reason that she has a good historical record against Brazil.
But the key word is "history." She hadn't played a full game in months, and had long since ceded the regular goaltending duties for this team years ago. As a backup, Scurry was fine. But why spot start her against such a dangerous opponent and get your team all on edge thinking about how to adjust to the new keeper?
It would be like an NHL coach starting his backup just because they won the Cup with him a few years ago.
But hey, it's Greg Ryan's team, and he makes the call. Fine. He's a big boy. Make the move, and take whatever comes.
Well, guess what? It blew up in his face. Scurry was shaky at best, and even a novice soccer fan could see that. After an embarrassing 4-0 defeat, the chickens came home to roost on Ryan's shoulders.
Of course Solo was pissed. Just like any MAN would be!
She had done nothing wrong, but was benched because of a statistic. She had to watch the same dreams she broke her butt for go up in smoke. Worse, she was helpless to make a difference.
And then Ryan, the soccer establishment and her own teammates got snippy because Solo was pointed in her remarks afterward?
Get a life, ladies. (That includes you, Coach!)
This is how it works in big time sports. The way it's been for MEN for a long time. Guys say stuff they have to apologize for all the time. They rip their coach. They rip their teammates.
Hell, sometimes it goes to the "Knuckle Council" for resolution. In the end, you patch it up and move on.
Not these gals. They amazingly sided with their dunce coach, and then voted to both bench Solo for the consolation game and to kick her off the team.
I suppose things haven't come all that far for women's sports after all. I suppose that feelings still trump common sense. I suppose that grudges are held, instead of being allowed to dissipate with the coming of the next game.
Hell, Keyshawn Johnson once wrote a BOOK that ripped his coach, quarterback and fellow wide receiver. And this was for no reason, before he had even done anything in the NFL!
The "Bickering Bills" went to four straight Super Bowls. A-Rod and Jeter aren't exactly writing their names on each others gloves with the Yankees. DeAngelo Hall actually COST his team a victory, mouthed off at his coach and only got suspended for a half!
It's amazing that Ryan still has a team to coach and his girls can sit around on the bus and sing camp songs without the internal "tension" of a player who got screwed, and dared call a spade a spade.
This sounds all too familiar, hmmm? Maybe like a hunch or something. Total Ned Yost move here!!!! Why is it that some coaches and managers just can't let the team dictate the action and pulse of things? If a team is working well/winning ride that out do play the STAT angle.
Maybe a Female head coach is the answer.
I have no statistics to back this up, but I think the reason female tennis players are paid similarly to men is that there are a lot of sexy women tennis players out there right now. Men are being entertained by women's tennis. Venus and Serena are beautiful. And Anna Kournikova is one of the most Googled people on the Internet. If you equate sports with entertainment (which I do), then men are being titilatingly entertained by watching women play tennis. I'm not trying to sound sexist, but we all know how these things rear their heads in matters. Hence, this might be why other female sports aren't as popular. I don't know, just food for thought.
Hope Solo is an exellance leadership character. She like a men player. I had read some of her news. She is very professional. A strong soccer team must have strong character. I love USA Women Soccer Team. They are the strong force to create popular soccer league in USA. I would like Hope Solo will not left out from USA Team. Hope Solo is very good on the game. She really can see most the angle. She is play with out fear. She play like a man. Viva Solo. All the Soccer fan will support you. Great Girl.
Excellent take on an "incident" that should have blown over long ago. As for "The Team" voting Hope Solo into limbo, I wouldn't be so sure about that. I'll bet many of those women (like plenty of men would have) put their fingers in the wind and decided it would NOT be wise to be on Hope's side. And I think that most would have gone along with whatever Lilly said -- even if they didn't like it much. I would lay good odds that there is generational tension on that team. The older players are clinging to what has been, and the new players are clamoring for what will be (if they ever get on the field). And on the subject of coach Ryan: Lose him. Sooner the better. Get someone who knows his/her way around soccer strategy and can also cope with human beings.
5 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.