As regular readers know, I love sports. A column about the role that politics plays at the Olympics was my second published in the Daily Sun.
I’ll watch any contest featuring Team USA. I’m a firm believer that the name on the back of the jersey means less than the team on the front. The nation’s women’s soccer team captivated national attention while they brought home the World Cup for the second straight tournament, the country’s fourth such championship since 1991.
Time will tell what will be set in motion from the excitement and notoriety generated from the team’s success, but I am hopeful. Millions of children already play the sport and millions of others now know the names on the backs of those jerseys.
I was mesmerized by the players’ athleticism and talent. However, every time they used their heads to direct a ball towards a teammate or a goal I winced. Concussions or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, caused by repeated blows to the head, left me concerned about how future health issues might effect their post-retirement prospects. I quickly settled on careers in national American politics. Team USA members would have better health coverage than most Americans, and already enjoy popularity which outpaces even the most likable politicians.
As I watched the matches, I was indifferent about their personal politics. Though I sincerely hope that those who have expressed that they aren’t going to the White House reconsider. Their presence would demonstrate that some things are bigger than political bickering.
As Americans, the White House is theirs too. They should feel welcome to express themselves while standing alongside the President. No matter how dark some consider the shadow cast by the building’s current inhabitant, it is important to show that the light of their accomplishments will shine.
By virtue of their victory and popularity, this team has captivated our attention. Stars like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan are this generation's Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain. All have the opportunity to bring important issues such as the gender pay gap, sexuality, and other issues that effect women and Americans as a whole into greater focus.
Arguing celebrities have too much power is different than asserting they should forgo the ability to express opinions or leverage that power to advocate for policy changes simply because of their fame. The sickeningly familiar subtext of that argument is that celebrities should do their job and know their place.
Women have begun to exert their force in athletic competition, inside the board room, in the halls of Congress and thus far on the Presidential debate stage.
Members of Team USA showed resilience in winning this tournament. They overcame obstacles, but aren’t alone. Women in every walk of life are strong and will continue to overcome challenges. The women on this year’s team credited those who came before for inspiring them and showing what could be done. Think of the possibilities as this group continues to make the pitch to the next generation of Americans that girls can do anything.