There’s already plenty of stories written on the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) and their place in not only sports history, but American history. I’m not going to touch on the players’, specifically Megan Rapinoe’s, refusal on going to the White House.
What’s actually more interesting to me is how American this women’s team really is.
My dad was enlisted in the army most of my life. I graduated high school on an army base in Germany. I’ve personally heard non-Americans describe us as arrogant. This women’s team fits that stereotype. Maybe arrogance is too harsh, perhaps it’s confidence. Whatever word you want to use to describe that demeanor doesn’t quite matter to me. What matters is I hope this team can be used as inspiration for future generations of athletes. It’s OK to celebrate the fact that you’re awesome at what you do. In other words: Stunt. Show out. Celebrate that ninth goal, that 10th goal, that 11th goal, that 12th goal, that 13th goal…
To some of you, this shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’d be in favor of how the women’s national team acted during the World Cup. Go to our website and type in my name and the word “fun” and you’ll be able to pull up many columns I’ve written in the past defending our right to be as fun as we want. This is no different.
Humility is overrated in professional sports. It might be the wrestling fan in me, but I like a cocky athlete. Even if you don’t, it’s an easy story to tell. Build up an athlete until they become so cocky that eventually they become a villain to root against. Rooting against a team or athlete is actually pretty fun, so long as you don’t do anything crazy disrespectful. So if you hate greatness being thrown on your face like that, then there you go, you got yourself a villain. When that villain falls, you have something to be happy about. It’s a win-win. Let the villain be a villain.
In my opinion, I don’t think the cocky athlete is a villain. If anything, that cockiness is something to admire, maybe even strive for. Sports are more fun to watch when the top athlete knows he’s a top athlete. In the NBA, that was the Golden State Warriors. In football, that’s Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. In golf, it used to be Tiger Woods. Wasn’t it fascinating when the Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years ago, or even more recently, their finals lost to Toronto?
I remember a season where Kodi Crane, at the time the head football coach of the Gonzales Apaches, told me he didn’t appreciate a flag being thrown for excessive celebration on his kids. Crane believed his players were on their own sideline and thus should be able to celebrate however they feel like since it wasn’t impeding on the play on the field.
I can see why he felt that way since celebrating in that fashion usually means no penalty flags. However, I think athletes should be able to take it a step further and do what NFL players do, which is celebrate however the heck they want on the field.
Imagine working through two-a-days, practicing in that Texas heat, working your tail off throughout the week all so you can accomplish a specific goal that Friday night, whether it’s scoring on offense, getting a big stop on defense or making a game-changing play on special teams. Now imagine you accomplished that goal, you got that sack, you got that touchdown snag, you forced a fumble on special teams. You mean to tell me you should just hand the ball to the official and walk off as of nothing spectacular just happened?
“Act like you’ve been there before.”
Nope. That’s lame. You just did something extraordinary. These kids should celebrate their own greatness.
I’m glad many coaches I’ve followed allow their players to celebrate properly, albeit on the sidelines as to not get penalized. But high school sports in general would be more fun if the kids got to be as cocky as they were allowed. Let them be as dominant and as fun as the U.S. Women’s National Team. Let them stunt.