USA Women’s Soccer Team’s Silver lining

Posted on July 20, 2011

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After having a couple days to digest the heart wrenching loss to Japan in the Women’s World Cup Final, I have come to the realization that as bad as I felt following the loss – every time ESPN starts talking about it or showing the high lights, I have to change the channel. I am like an abused victim trying to hide from the painful memories brought upon their abuser. I know I might of offended some people with that line, but seriously; for the amount of scoring opportunities Team USA did not capitalize on, as a viewer my eyes were brutally abused – a handful of positives came about from the game, and underneath all the sorrow I still feel, there is a silver lining which deserves celebrating and pointing out.

As I said in my Weekend Roundup, when you consider everything Japan has gone through in the past 6 months, with an earthquake and radiation emergencies, it was probably much more meaningful for Japan to win the Women’s World Cup than the USA. However, I’d be lying to you if I said that heals all of my wounds. Even so, it did turn some into scabs.

One of the many achievements by the USA Women’s Soccer Team that deserves recognizing is the following: it put many casual fans like myself on the bandwagon. If you are like me, I took a seat on the bandwagon during the Brazil game in the quarterfinals. Yes, during, keyword, during, because I watched the entire game start to finish when I booked a seat on bandwagon. Honestly before I got on the bandwagon I couldn’t even name you single player on the team. Heck I couldn’t even name a single female soccer player besides Mia Hamm. And now Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Meagan Rapinoe are all household names.

Unfortunately an idiot by the name of Bill Plaschke failed to realize this, who on Monday’s Around the Horn basically trashed the media and casual fans like myself for not being harder on the US Women’s soccer team and berating them like so many would criticize the Men’s team. According to Plaschke it is wrong of us to be so soft on the women and not be hard on them like we are on the men’s team.

Now I am sure there are some out there like Plaschke, even possible reading this, who need to understand something: a fat bald sports columnist should never play a feminist card and two, what the heck are we suppose to do? It is very simple: WE LOST THE GAME BECAUSE WE DID NOT SCORE ON THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES WE SHOULD HAVE!!! It is that simple to Bill, and that is not a reason to berate players who played 110%. Sure our defense was sloppy, but our offense should have easily bailed us out. That simple. And the reason why so many casual fans roll their eyes and berate the men’s teams is because when it comes towards them contending for a world cup final in the men’s game, they are nowhere near the skill level to compete with the likes of Spain, Brazil, England, Germany and France. And until they are at that level, the casual fan will continue to berate waiting for them to reach that point. We berate them because we care. We want them to be great in the men’s game, but they are not. However being as the US Women’s team is great in the Women’s game they have captured our attention and our hearts.

And that last line in the above paragraph is the silver lining. Americans will always root for those representing our country. We are a country of nationalists and when we see a team representing our nation in a spirited fashion we will watch and cheer them on. As long as they are doing a good job, giving it there all and making us proud, they will have our support. And that is exactly what the USA Women’s Soccer Team was doing and that is why – unlike the men’s soccer team who in the casual fans eye is not doing good job, especially after there loss to Mexico and the U17 Men’s squad lost to Uzbekistan – their game against Japan demolished the men’s team in TV ratings. Compared to the last game the USA Men’s team played in the World Cup (the last game people actually watched. What channel was the Mexico game even on? I had to watch it online) the one against Algeria, the Women’s game on Sunday doubled it in TV Viewers. That said, women’s US soccer has always dominated the men in ratings. The most watched and highest rated soccer game in the United States is the 1999 women’s world cup final. And it always will be that way until the men are able dominating the game like the women are.

Whereas only 6.2 million people watched the men’s game against Algeria, 13.5 million people watched the women’s game on Sunday. The World Cup Final game drew a 7.4 household rating, making it the most watched and highest rated soccer game on ESPN ever. It also shares the honor of being the Second Most-Watched Daytime Program in Cable History, falling behind only this year’s Rose Bowl. And for those wondering what a daytime program is, it any program aired after 6am and before 6pm. It also holds the distinction of being the 6th most watched soccer event ever broadcasted in the United States, and when you consider it was broadcasted on cable and not network TV, it easily would be in the top 5 when one looks at statistics because the 5th most watched soccer event was the Brazil vs. USA round of 16 match in the 1994 World Cup and that was watched by 13.7 millions people, but was broadcasted on Network TV. Thus, had the USA vs. Japan game been broadcasted on network TV it easily would have shattered that and possibly others, because all of the games ranked ahead of it were broadcast on ABC (network). And the following statistic, which I don’t even understand or know what it means, is pretty cool: the game had an overnight rating of 8.6. Which is higher than this year’s MLB All-Star Game (which was broadcast on Network), Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and every game the Bull’s and Heat played in the eastern conference finals.

And while the popularity the US Women’s team currently has, as evident by the TV ratings, should be celebrated, how do they capitalize on it? What does US Women’s soccer do to make sure they don’t fade into obscurity? Make an ad. Begin hyping for the Olympics with ads surrounding Abby Wombach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan. Make an ad where all that is seen is the penalty kicks where the USA lost to Japan with voice-overs set to dramatic music. When they show Wombach making her pk, in a voice over Wombach says, “It doesn’t mean anything that I made mine.” When they show Solo missing a save, Solo says in a voice over, “You have no idea how much it eats up inside of me.” When the video cuts to Morgan standing on the sidelines following the pks and loosing, in a voiceover Morgan says, “ Everyone tells me I am future. They point towards my goal here (video cuts to her goal against Japan to take a 1-0 lead) as evidence. And while I am happy they think I will be great in the future, I want to be good now and help my team win in the present.” The video then fades to black where we see Wombach standing in the middle with her arms folded. Morgan to her right with one foot on a soccer ball and Solo to her left holding a soccer ball. And then in unison, all three say, “watch us on road to the Olympics.” Video ends with a Nike swoosh sign.

You make that ad as soon as possible to show to people, the loss isn’t keeping the team down. They are looking foreword to their next challenge. On the Internet you have Alex Morgan open up a youtube channel where she vlogs about what she is doing, at least once a month. You have this go viral; people are most interested in Morgan. When the next world cup happens you center it on Morgan and how she wants to win it for Wombach, Solo and all the veterans. Even though it has been four years, it feels like yesterday we were this close to winning the world cup Wombach says (Hopefully she is still playing.) in a hype video.

A lot individuals in the media are saying that we will forget about the US Womens soccer team and get back to our all ways of focusing on the big three, NFL, MLB and NBA. But when you consider the NBA is going to have a lock out that only really leaves us sports fans with the big two. And when one could argue that the US Women’s Soccer team is more popular than the entire NHL (Ratings don’t lie Garry Bettman), the silver lining for the US Women’s team and soccer in general is that through their run in the world cup, soccer has achieved mainstream success. Now the team just has to capitalize on it.

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