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.
Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.
A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.