Escaping the heat of a mid July afternoon I watched the Women's Soccer World Cup Finals this past Sunday. Team USA and team Japan faced off on the pitch and the hope of each nation was linked to the outcome of a ninety minute match-up. Team USA had transcended a general lack of enthusiasm by US sports fans concerning soccer and women's sports. Snatching victory over Brazil, Team USA represented what America stands for; good old fashioned hard work, heart and determination. Team Japan became a symbol of inspiraton and hope for their fellow countrymen still recovering from the effects of the earthquake and tsunami. A win by Japan would finally give cause for a smile.
Besides the hope of nations, each of these women walked out on the field with their own dreams of victory. This was Wambach's third World Cup appearance; Aye Sameshima's (nicknamed Same) had to find a new team to play for after the Fukushima disaster. The stakes were truly high for these competitors.
The results are in the history books and by now, everyone is moving on to a new story. I still find myself thinking about the awesomeness of the game that was played. Admittedly, I am a "bandwagon" fan and professional women's soccer has not been on my radar screen since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when the women's team won gold. The level of play in Sunday's game was remarkable; even more stellar was the grace with which the game was played.
In a time where individuals and organizations simply cannot seem to get along and get the job done, I think we can all take a cue from Women's Soccer. Teamwork, fair play, and decency were evidenced by both sides from start to finish. Everyone won together and everyone lost together. Players, coaches, nutritionists, and physical therapists all had a role to play and no one seemed to be short changing or sniping about the qualifications of another. Both teams put in their fair share of hard work and dedicated themselves to a goal. After 120 minutes of dogged competition, one team exited the field with the FIFA World Cup trophy in hand.
In my estimation, even though the USA didn't win the trophy, they are still victorious. They showed us what it is like to work together, to value one another, and to strive for a goal. They reminded us how to be civil and conduct ourselves with grace and composure, even in the face of losing when we wanted victory so badly. They touched the imagination of a beleaguered American public caught in the muck of a Washington standoff. Teetering on the edge of financial fallout and caught up in partisan politics our leaders can take a cue from the class act of the USA Women's Soccer team. And for those of us who find anyone who doesn't agree with us or "get it" to be stupid and worthless - just remember, we all win together and we all lose together. History shows us that civilizations die and the Ice Age cometh.
Awesome cross, you set me up for the goal kick!