An excited NYC and the nation welcomed the World Cup Champion American Women's Soccer team in NYC yesterday, with a ticket tape parade, in which the Heroes of the World Cup moved through a confetti-filled Canyon of Heroes to receive the keys to NYC.
By their World Cup victory, the team and its popularity had pushed the boundaries of women's sports and the nation's involvement with its women athletes.
14 million Americans watched the team win their final match (2-0) against The Netherlands on Sunday, and by NYC estimates, more than a million people turned out for yesterday's parade.
For contrast, crowd science professor Keith Still has estimated the total attendance at Trump's inauguration at 300,000 to 600,000 people , or one-third the estimated 1.1 million to 1.8 million people that attended Obama's 2009 inauguration. (There has been no release of attendance numbers of Trump's recent July 4th fiasco).
The Soccer achievements of this 23-member Team has been amazing.
For example, during its 7-game 2019 tournament run, the Team scored 26 goals, a World Cup record.
They also hold a tie for the World Cup record with 146 goals in World Cup play.
The 13-0 win over Thailand in Reims, France, had the most goals in a single game in the World Cup, for both women and men, while Alex Morgan scored 5 of those goals for a new US soccer record.
The Team is now on a 12-game World Cup winning streak, and has not lost since the 2011 final vs. Japan.
And this was all topped off by uniquely back-to-back victories during the past two World Cups. United States women's soccer coach, Jill Ellis, is the first women coach to win back to back World Cup victories, by winning both in 2015 and now in 2019 (the last coach, male or female, to win consecutive World Cups was an Italian male coach, Victorio Pozzo, backin 1934 and 1938.)
Today's parade in NYC was a celebration of this team and of women's soccer in America, but the parade, like the Team itself, has proved to be as much about American politics as American sports. The American National Team has been outspoken, both in its opposition to Trump and Trumpian values, and in its commitment as activists, for LGBTQ inclusion, racial fairness and for Equal Pay.
The hostility between the Team and Trump is long term and deep.
It is not difficult to make the case that the very existence of a women's national soccer team capable of winning the World Cup, as well as the growth of women's soccer in America, are the result of Federal public policy, the type of policy Democrats favor and the GOP and Trump despise.
Specifically, Title IX, the Federal law passed in 1972, established a broad legal apparatus for gender fairness in schools, colleges and universities, which affected not just sports but gender norms and aspirations in all aspects of American life.
As Moira Donegan wrote in The Guardian on July 6, 2019, “In 1972, when Title IX was passed, there were only 700 girls playing soccer at the high-school level in the whole United States. By 1991, the year of the first Women's World Cup, there were 121,722 high school girl players – a 17,000% increase. That number has more than doubled since: in 2018, there were 390,482 high school girl soccer players." (https://www.voices4america.com/usas-formidable-wom...)
More players, of course, mean better quality players and more and better competitions and coaching.
Second, it can also be argued that not only did Title IX lead to more and better sports opportunities for girls, but it taught those same girls and their families, friends, allies and supporters to believe in and expect gender fairness and their right to equality.
It should be no surprise that the National Team members, children of Title IX, are unified in their opposition to Trump, as well as committed to gender fairness and its complement, equal pay.
Team leader and co-captain, Megan Rapinoe was first attacked by Trump in 2016 when she supported Colin Kaepernick and took a knee before a game with the Chicago Red Stars. The battle has never ended.
In June of this year, when a reporter from Eight by Eight magazine asked Rapinoe if she was excited about going to the White House, she immediately said, "I'm not going to the fuckin' White House."
Soon after, teammate Ali Krieger, chimed in to add that they all also planned to sit out an invitation to the White House.
More recently, the Championship Team announced that it will join Senator Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a tribute in Washington DC later this week, before each player will rejoin her own team of the 9 existing team US soccer league (MWSL).
The World Cup Soccer Championship Team is a Team that will long be remembered for its talent and achievements on the field, but its legacy will extend to the players' political stands, especially on gender equality and Equal Pay. In March, the Team sued the United States Soccer Federation for gender discrimination, with allegations that extend well beyond pay. The suit says United States Soccer also invested less in the team's practice facilities, travel arrangements and medical care.
On Sunday, following the World Cup Victory, Trump claimed to agree with the idea that women soccer players should be paid as well as male players, but in fact, he hedged and refused to support the players' right to Equal Pay.
"I would like to see that," he said, but added an equivocation which confuses the question. "You also have to look at numbers." Because when you look at World Cup soccer, that's one thing," Trump continued. "And you also have to look at soccer, professional soccer. You have to see who's taking in what. So I don't know what those numbers are. I would like to see that. But again, you have to look at the great stars of the men's soccer, the great stars of the women's, and you have to see year-round how are they all drawing. What is the attendance outside of World Cup?"
The New York Times and our national sentiments on this subject were much clearer.
In its editorial on July 8, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/08/opinion/world-c..., following the World Cup win, the Times wrote this:
“It is difficult to understand the argument that the United States women's national soccer team should get paid just as much as the men's national soccer team.
The women are much more successful. They should earn more."
Again, to cite the Times, “It is an embarrassment that United States Soccer has failed to address this injustice, allowing the joy of Sunday's celebrations to be tainted by the reality of unfair treatment."
And the issue of Equal Pay wasn't all that separated our National Team from the White House. At the rally, team leader Megan Rapinoe noted the diversity of the Team: "We have pink hair and purple hair, we have tattoos and dreadlocks, we have white girls and black girls and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls."
And on the day of this historic parade, team star and co-captain, Megan Rapinoe, an out lesbian, sent a message to Donald Trump on his very own Fox media, “Your message is excluding people. You're excluding me. You're excluding people that look like me. You're excluding people of color. You're excluding... Americans that maybe support you."
The crowd at the Parade supported both the Team's soccer victories but they also support the Team's values.
All through the ceremonies In NYC, the crowd spoke in a single voice: “USA, Equal Pay."
And when during the ceremonies, Carlos Cordeiro, President of the United States Soccer Federation declared US Soccer's commitment of “fair and equitable pay" to women's soccer, a phrase which came up short for meeting the demand for equal pay, he earned loud chants of "EQUAL PAY" from the gathered crowd.
Rapinoe's was the final voice at the ceremonies and she ended her comments with a call for unity “We have to be better," she said.
"We have to love more, hate less. We gotta listen more and talk less. ... It's our responsibility to make this world a better place."
Yesterday, in NYC, America's Soccer Team showed it had become America's Team, the Team which speaks for America's values.
July 11, 2019
Voices4America Post Script. This parade in NYC and this team are everything good about America and everything Trump is not. Share my comments on yesterday's celebration for our World Cup Champions- what it was and what it means! #TitleIX #GenderEquality