Ever since the final whistle of Sunday’s World Cup final, I don’t think I have stopped being in a good mood. Despite the U.S. men’s soccer team losing to Mexico in the Gold Cup final that same night, the feeling of seeing the women’s national team win back-to-back world titles is something that may not go away for a long time.
The USA defeated Netherlands, 2-0, with goals by Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle to send what felt like a home crowd and watch parties on the other side of the world into a frenzy. Seeing the celebrations, the emotions and the passion from each player made it clear how much the victory meant to the team and they were playing for more than just themselves.
Throughout the tournament, it was amazing to see the support of the fans who were in France but to see that support at home was even more important. In the last two World Cups and even in the Olympics, it felt like that support was there but this year’s felt different.
And hopefully it continues to be.
Since the 2011 Women’s World Cup, it has felt like the attention has been put on these athletes in just two summers over the course of four years before resetting. And I have to admit I have been guilty of it too.
These are world-class soccer players and some of them I was just learning about when they were named to the roster in March. But that’s not the way it should be.
Supporting women’s soccer is about more than cheering for your country at the world’s biggest sporting events. It has to go beyond the support of one summer.
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is one of the best women’s leagues in the world and it is starting to gain more and more attention. With yet another run from the national team, it feels like the NWSL is picking up some steam and even recently struck a deal with ESPN to have nationally televised games because somehow that was not a thing yet.
If you watched any of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, you know women’s soccer can be just as entertaining as men’s soccer. And the secret is both of them are soccer.
Soccer is soccer no matter who is on the field and it’s going to be entertaining if you are a soccer fan. (OK, maybe I’ll give you the U5 leagues with kids kicking each other more than the ball but the rest of it is actually soccer.)
The biggest point here is supporting women’s soccer should not be difficult for soccer fans. Yes, the passion has to start somewhere but the national team has given everyone that opportunity and now you can build on it.
The NWSL is in a great position to be the best in the world and the fans can really help it thrive. It starts with going to games or even just watching them on television.
Maybe it can be as simple as reading an article on the players of the week or watching a video of the best goals of the season. You can even support women’s soccer by getting involved with youth sports or donating money to your local high school team to help them get anywhere close to the kind of attention other sports get.
Women’s soccer is drowning out men’s soccer in this country right now and that is not a bad thing. The women’s national team’s jersey was recently recognized as the best-selling jersey in a single season in the history of Nike.com. The team is also expected to bring the federation a much higher revenue than the men’s team in this World Cup cycle.
Setting aside any politics or disagreements, the biggest point here is we cannot let women’s soccer go under the radar for another year until the Olympics. Or for another three years after that waiting on the next World Cup.
The opportunity is there but there needs to be assistance from soccer fans, soccer players and even those of us in the media. Soccer is a beautiful game and right now, the best team in the world is helping the sport grow in our country.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Herald.