The circuitous journey of a foregone conclusion to the trophy ceremony began with an embarrassing whitewashing over a hapless Thailand national squad by a thirteen goal margin. The only facet of the match uglier than the final tally, was the pompous and overzealous contrived post-scoring celebratory antics performed by the US team, which received a brutal dosage of criticism from the Broadway choreography society, an organization known for espousing extremist political views, but lacking any sort of tolerance for uninspired and tactless dance numbers.
Continuing a trend of ruthless domination, the road to hoisting the World Cup featured an increasingly difficult stretch of competition in battles against Chile and Sweden which were won by reasonable margins in claiming the group title with an impressive plus-18 goal differential. Fast forward through victorious matches against elite clubs in the playoffs, and the US Team is on the cusp of defending it’s 2015 title. While the mood should feel right for celebration on the eve of Independence Day and in the wake of an impressive series of athletic accomplishments by the USWNT on the international stage, the insufferable demon of divisiveness and relentless debate has entered the arena, in killing any chance for at least a temporary grand scale act of unification. Of course, the cantankerous presence of partisan politics corrupting the purity of sport is once again the culprit inciting a heated exchange of ideological taunts and insults carelessly hurled across the aisleway, as digital news feeds turn into digital pissing matches for instant gratification superiority and provide a sizable bump in traffic profiting the social media industry. There is a growing group of Americans who are actually rooting for the women to lose in the finals, as discussions have passed the threshold of a polite interlude.
At the core of this bombastic maelstrom of controversy is not the gratuitous goal scoring coordinated rhythmic performances which cause the cast of Hamilton to blush, but the rhetoric forged by certain members of the US team in physical gestures or tedious soundbites laden in the proliferation of raw vitriol. Beginning with the iconic display of Brandi Chastain’s eye-opening and emphatic tearing off of her jersey following a successful penalty kick in 1999, the issue is not with the brilliant play on an international stage, but how players have responded to success both on and off the field over the last two decades. Even the refreshing volatile Charles Barkley was called out for his series of incorrigible actions as a member of the 1992 Olympia “Dream Team”, culminating with a thug style cheap shot of an elbow to an Angolan opponent. The collection of NBA legends and future hall of fame members including Jordan, Magic, and Malone, faced harsh criticism in dominating inferior competition on the way to the inevitable pinnacle of the medal stand. By all accounts however, the entire roster of hardball legends celebrated the gold medal in unison, as the bass drums in the Star Spangled Banner reverberated in the backdrop of a public relations spectacle. Intertwined with the current amazing run of the USWNT in cruising through European powers in the tournament bracket, is the deliberate actions of a star player in hoisting herself to a status bigger than the entire World Cup in protesting the National Anthem for reasons that are the complete antithesis to patriotism. And that is exactly what is happening.
As the unlikable personality of former goalie Hope Solo tarnished the reputation of women’s soccer during her 16-year unbridled tenure of hall-of-fame stout defense, and equally baffling decision making skills outside the confines of the stadium, the cognitive dissonance evident in kneeling during the pregame ceremony by a player who will go unnamed, overshadows the accomplishment of a sport which is ironically made possible by Title IX, federal grants, and a general overreaction to accepting the stark realities of television ratings and advertising revenues. This is the case of a vain attempt to draw comparisons to the franchise of the Men’s World Cup and introducing the component of gender discrimination into an unreasonable dialogue which hinges on raw, emotions rather than tangible data. The same flawed argument is used time and time again at the public university level where revenue generating sports such as football and men’s basketball provide the funding for the entire athletic department budget, are regularly demonized as the salary of coaches and the resource for scholarship athletes is completely taken out of context. In the case of the global franchise of Men’s soccer versus the women’s footprint, the disparity between overall influence, attendance, and net money generated is laughable. In preparation for international competition, the USWNT were dominated by a squad of male teenagers, as a U-16 all-star team from Dallas took the best 11 in the world down 5-2. However, in a first world republic, where the opportunity to prosper by given access to the largest stage on the planet and securing lucrative sponsorship opportunities, the perks are apparently not enough to prevent showing disdain for the flag in forwarding a tired and predictable narrative that is not going to change unless the scenario of revenues chooses to completely flip and undergo a gender reidentification singularity. Ironically, the fortunes of a career member of the US Women’s national team are spurred by government subsidies and posturing in congress, which ultimately is shouldered by the tax payer, and not the free market, as indicated by the ratings and attendance figures. Of course the international organ of “Futbol” governance, FIFA, makes the International Olympic Committee seem like a chamber of commerce subcommittee overseeing the hanging of flower pots in a troubling comparison.
Former soldier and professional football player Pat Tillman chose to make the ultimate sacrifice in leaving a lucrative athletic career in order to join the ranks of US military sources. While Tillman set the golden precedent for athletes embracing patriotism, those individuals who are given the unique opportunity to participate in an unsustainable version of a sport thrust into the headlines, should be cognizant of living out a dream, while making the necessary attempts to acknowledge that their remarkable global pursuits are based on the personal sacrifice and acts of valor of others encountering extreme circumstances.
As politics and sports are forced into a maladjusted union of matrimony, an individual representing the US flag should be expected to engage in activism only if it is on their own time, and on their own dime, and not through a ragged display of visceral mental gymnastics in warping a false equivalence while deploying trending hipster tactics of the selfie-induced martyrdom that constitutes contemporary victimhood. The “angry young man movement” of the 1950’s, has effectively been exchanged for the “girl power angst guilt trip”, a battalion of accomplished female athletes sporting type-a savage personalities in composing rants at the wrong place and the wrong time. The forced tenacity and fabricated anger challenging primal inclinations and manifesting incomprehensible gratuitous mutations obscuring the ageless human spirit. It’s truly a shame, as the US representation at the World Cup performs nearly flawlessly on the pitch, but has clearly not mastered the subtle art form of sculpting an unassuming confidence and harnessing and transforming destiny into a formula for perpetual and graceful success, a power that is reserved for true champions.
Beneath the superficial back and forth limited character wars of reactionary opinions exists in destroying both language and the ability to effectively argue against and inane consensus, there exists a cold and calculated ulterior motive that transcends awareness, or at least avoids the radar of comprehension within the limited critical thinking skills of the entire roster. As the generations are consumed and paralyzed by the latest beacon and hate of the 15-second news cycle, the cries admonishing discrimination and demanding gender equality are simply a calculated ruse deflecting attention from a guaranteed pay raise. The pursuit for personal wealth through increased wages in a basic tenet of a functioning free market, but attaching the entrepreneurship to a cause, makes an individual nearly impervious to criticism. In the case of the US Soccer Federation, which governs the operation and finances of the women’s team, there is nothing that resembles laissez-faire practices within the bureaucratic organization. Coupled with the blanket phrases and concepts blistered by the impressionable graffiti electronic hashtags of, #proudlesbianpro, #superstarmarriage, #purplehairturftivist, #chicksoccerulz, etc, the prosperous franchise of special interests scores another debilitating goal against the majority, building a recipe of success catering to activists and athletes alike.
Similar to the money laundering tendencies of the Green Movement, or Green New Deal, and associated industries, playing the role of a contrarian or dissenting puppet can equate to a lucrative career. It is not far-fetched notion that at least certain members of the US women’s World Cup team understand this reality on some level, but because of politics and a guilty conscience, are unable to process the depth of their hypocrisy. While given the opportunity to truly stand up for women’s rights on a global scale, a platform that would be welcomed with open arms as a backdrop to the international scale as opposed to partisan panhandling, the team has collectively failed, while laughing all the way to the bank. Just ask the Thailand team, and they will provide twelve reasons why this is so wrong and on so many levels. The eloquence of a 1-0 complete annihilation dissolves into the musty and reasonable past not conducive to a world of snarky paradox.
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