In the Shadow Still


A popular commercial for a sports drink shows a soccer player dribbling past defenders before she shoots a rocket into the net. The soccer player epitomizes the form and shape of an athlete. Not only is she built, but she is good. The commercial ends with her smiling and drinking the sports drink, but the commercial is not over. The scene cuts to another athlete draped in sweat and a towel around the neck. Looking at a phone, a smile breaks over this one’s neck at what is shown—the soccer player’s score. The commercial ends with the second athlete slamming a bottle of the  favored sports’ drink onto a stool.

Yesterday the American women defeated England in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup. The score of 2-1 is indicative of how close the match was. America’s goalie blocked three penalty kicks, and the entire team played with heart, as did the English women. For me, it was a game where, in a way, I didn’t think either team should lose. However, I am happy that the women’s team is going, once again, to the finals of  the  World Cup for the third straight time.

The game was fast, well played, and for some fans it was considered worthy of being the finals match. I could not watch much of it directly, but I read a feed from the Washington Post, which was as good a feed as possible. However, as I read updates about the stellar play of Alyssa Naeher, Christne Press, Alex Morgan, and all the other players-both British and American—I noticed a tweet on the feed. The tweet was a silly remark by the golfer Phil Michelson who wrote how he liked soccer as a youngster, but not the running involved. Goodness!

A commercial feathering a buff, female soccer player and, one of the  semi-final games of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. But both events have men who seem to take the role of giving approval. In the commercial, the second athlete is a sweaty male who watches on his phone as the female scores, gives a nodding grin of approval, and then the drink bottle is slammed onto the stool. The United States female soccer team is defeating England, is winning again in the lofty atmosphere of world cup soccer, and a major newspaper shows a comment by a male about his soccer experience as a child.

One could argue that I make a mountain out of a molehill, but I see both situations as how far we still must go for gender equality in sports. One does not have to even  consider the question of pay for our female and male soccer teams, just examine the use of a tweet by an aged, male golfer and a crusty male. Both are used to grant approval  as if the women do not accomplish enough on their own.

I offer that no female athlete who is serious in her training need the voice of males. They are capable enough on their own. We men may or may not support female athletes, but we must never patronize them.


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