Women’s Soccer and Ice Hockey are winning Cups and Gold Medals. Does this signal a sustainable surge in our culture or is it just a trend?The similarities between these two women’s sports leaves me questioning for a brighter future. I must confess I didn’t follow Women’s Hockey all that much. I was aware of the league, and of the legal battle between these athletes and the Federation for fair treatment and gender equality.
What brought this to my attention was the message the US Women’s
National Soccer team was sending them during the Olympics. This, of course, simultaneously as they too fight the same exact battle but are a little further ahead in their fight for recognition and equality.
I do believe there is a trend in women’s sports. I believe that there are many characteristics between Women’s Professional teams that are on an upward swing based on viewership, talent and accomplishments both internationally and in our own country. Women are winning championships in this country where men are not able to compete. Let’s face it, the men’s soccer team not making the World Cup has left US Soccer with no other valid choice than to strongly get behind the women. If they don’t, there could be a backlash the size of which they’ve never seen. Women are not afraid to make noise anymore. Just in the landscape of our country, we see women standing up for one another, gaining confidence, holding higher positions in the collegiate environment and professional arena. USA Women’s Hockey and US Women’s Soccer stand out as hugely successful teams that just happen to be women.
In making a case that women’s soccer and hockey are on the rise, we have to acknowledge that because we label them as women’s sports, we are saying they are not equal to men’s sports. This is in terms of physicality and based on viewership. So, I will highlight the similarities of women’s hockey and women’s soccer because recently we have seen a growth in these sports, but it takes championships, like The World Cup and Olympics to enhance viewership and support of these teams.
For the first time in 20 years the US Women’s National Hockey Team won an Olympic Gold Medal. Canada had defeated them the past 4 Olympics. They have been fighting for equal pay and equal rights. They were involved in an equitable sports battle against their own federation. Not only did the Women’s Hockey break Canada’s grip on the Gold medal, but they also jumped another hurdle to ensure their belief and purpose for receiving fair and equal treatment in their sport. This team has had their taste as victor and as an underdog, but they keep fighting.
US Women’s National Soccer Team is the most successful international team in women’s soccer. They won World Cup in 1991, 1999 and then 16 years later won another World Cup title in 2015. They have won Gold medals medals in soccer and pretty much have always placed in the Olympics. There are always good years for these teams, but with success has come failure. It just goes to show you being the best in the World does not give you stability. These women work even harder, all other countries are getting better, and it is about always working harder. They have been fighting for equal pay and fairness, and seek justification on why treatment and salary is so lopsided and men are not winning.
We have Women’s Leagues for both sports that continue to bring talent and competition to
inspire youth. The US Women’s hockey program is one of the best in the world. Women come to the US from all over the world to play in NWHL. They are the first league to pay its players.
The NWSL is arguably the best soccer league in the world, players also coming from all parts of the world, and players also leave college to come play professionally. The NWSL is the 3rd soccer league formed and has lasted the longest, with many players representing their countries on National Teams.
In being a fan of both men and women soccer and hockey, I realize the women play so
differently. This is why I love watching women’s sports. Women’s hockey players are quick,
precise and creative with their play. The passing is just unbelievable and their grace of
skating with the puck is great to watch. These women hockey players are unbelievably
conditioned and strong. Women’s soccer players are similar. They have the best trainers and most physically fit of all teams outside the US. Their movement on and off the ball is precise, they communicate well and getting better technically all the time. This is what inspires young girls. Being part of a team, trusting each other, trusting the coaches, trainers and gaining fans around the world, is something that these women strive for, and know that every person on their team is working for another, working for gender equality and gaining respect.
So worlds collided today at the SheBelieves Cup when the Women’s hockey team came out at half-time, playing to the demographics of women’s soccer and the TV advertising. USA women’s hockey has never received the TV viewership like the women’s National Soccer team, or even signed a deal with a TV network. ESPN has streamed a few games, but The SheBelieves Cup stands for all women in sports, and that means hockey too.
Girls look up to these athletes as they strive to play professionally, to make the Olympic team or even just to make a living playing the sport they love and excel in.
As President Obama said it best, “Playing like a girl means you’re a badass’.
Today, I am hopeful to see many more badasses in the future on TV and with gold medals around their necks that will give our country and fans, not just females either, something to cheer and be proud about.