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The Impossible Standards of Success

June 24, 2019

 

If you’ve followed sports coverage over the last few weeks, you’re aware the FIFA Women’s World Cup is in action and chances are you’ve heard coverage of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. But it might not have solely been during the sports segment.

 

First off, let’s agree on two statements: These women on the USWNT are fierce competitors and incredibly talented.

 

They proved so in a 13-0 win over Thailand, but as Jemele Hill pointed out in The Atlantic in her aptly titled article, “They Gave America 13 Goals—And Got a Lecture in Return.”

 

Hill further points out in the subtitle, “After a lopsided World Cup game, the focus was once again on how female athletes behave, not on what they’ve achieved.” If you haven’t read the article, I encourage you to do so.

 

There are many sports where running up the score is no longer something out of the ordinary.  I can give you examples in male sports with football games for Power 5 teams like Alabama and Ohio State ending 52-3 (Ohio State v. Rutgers, 2018) or 59-0 (Alabama v. Vanderbilt, 2017) - both league games.

 

It occurs in basketball too, even at the professional level. In 2018, the Charlotte Hornets beat the Memphis Grizzlies by 61 in a 140-79 win.

 

But it also happened to UConn women’s basketball. UConn won 118-55 over East Carolina in 2019. It’s not just men who can dominate the court, field, pitch, etc.

 

The bigger issue through this discussion about the USWNT and the scrutiny over the score is how it impacts young female athletes.

 

Emily Schwartz, a 14-year old, wrote a poignant, beyond-her-years piece to the Boston Globe ending with the statement, “It almost seems as if female athletes can be recognized only for negative things.”

 

That should hurt. That should stop you in your tracks.

 

What are we teaching our future athletes, writers, coaches, insert whatever job 14-year old you dreamt of? These are the females who we have a responsibility to build up and equip to lead the charge after us.

 

May we raise the next generation of outstanding females to speak their mind, own their opinions and give us more reasons to celebrate in the future.

 

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