I watched the gold medal game, all excited to start, imbibing on ambrosia as goddesses are wont to do (blueberry kefir, for you earth-dwellers). And then I saw the field, the sun and the patterns the sun made at one end of that field. The coin toss gave the sun-shade-sun-shade goal to the Japanese (and their goalie) in the first half of the game. Whether that contributed to the 5-2 US win is debatable, but I like games to start on an even footing, will all external factors equalized.
I'm not enough of a soccer connoisseur to know if fields like this are commonly encountered in the games, but surely it makes a difference if one side has a much harder job, defending against both the other team and the sun.
So I stomped and I hissed and I sent imaginary boils into the butts of those who arranged the final of the Women's World Cup to take place at that time of the day and with that sun pattern. It's almost as if someone didn't care very much, almost as if this, too, was part and pattern of the same reason which gave us these games on artificial turf.
Maybe all this is in my head. Maybe such unequal fields are common in soccer. Or maybe not.
Then there's the sponsorship problem. Or salary problem. For instance:
After the prior Women’s Professional Soccer league failed to become financially viable, the fledgling National Women’s Soccer League, founded in 2013, has set salaries extremely low. “The minimum salary for an NWSL player is $6,842 for the course of the six-month season; the maximum is $37,800, made primarily by international-level players,” reported NBC Sports’ Jeff Kassouf. The minimum salary in the male counterpart, Major League Soccer, is $60,000. In contrast to the victorious women, the U.S. Men’s Team is ranked 27th in the world by FIFA. Even with major brand endorsements, Grantland estimated that one top player made between $60,000 and $92,500 a year.The routine explanation for that is the lack of an audience for women's games. Well, the audience for the Women's World Cup was pretty respectable:
When compared to the other major summer sporting events this year, it easily beat out the NBA Finals (average overnight rating of 13.9) and the Stanley Cup finals (7.6 million viewers).All that reinforces my old arguments (reinforces, because I'm a goddess and know stuff!) about the importance of letting women's sports grow from infancy to adolescence to adulthood before judging them as uninteresting for some innate biological reason (like evo-psycho reasons of men fighting for all the women in the audience in a winner-gets-all brawl). That's true for any new sport or any new group picking up a sport. Not all of those will thrive, but we should give them the same chance as we give newly sprouted seeds in the vegetable beds before we judge them.
And a lot of little sprouts will crop up in the soccer gardens of American youth because of these games. The more the game is played by the children, both girls and boys, the more seats we will have in the future audiences.