I don’t really enjoy watching soccer (or football for my British friends) all that much. I love baseball. I like (American) football and, while living in the UK, developed a taste for Rugby in its various iterations. Coming from a family of short people, basketball ranks lower than tennis and golf, but still ahead of soccer. Even hockey is more fun because it has all the elements of soccer, but combined with fighting and Canadians.

Last year, however, I was living in Scotland and it was a men’s World-Cup year. Apparently most of the world looooooooves this soccer stuff. My husband and I were invited to a World-Cup/Birthday Party to watch the USA vs. England match. There’s nothing like being an ex-patriot to make you super patriotic. I donned a blue polo shirt, a flag pin, and a stars-and-stripes barrette that I probably hadn’t worn since my freshman year of high school.
We were expecting England to clobber the U.S. being that they are obsessed with the sport and we don’t really give a crap. Also, despite being in Scotland, we were going to the birthday party of an Englishman so we were prepared to take plenty of guff (which we did) for being American. At least the Scots, with their “Anyone but England” approach to sporting fandom, were cheering for the U.S.

At one point - before the U.S. tied the match - I was being teased about our nation producing mediocre soccer players when I countered with ,“Hey, at least our women are good.”

“Bah!” said Fritz, “That doesn’t count!” His wife shot him a whithering look and he grinned guiltily.

You know what? It does count. It counts because, thanks to Title 9, American women have had more attention paid to their athletic endeavors than women in many other countries. And American women kick-butt in international sporting events. Many believe that athletic success can be linked to academic and life success. When Title 9 was passed in 1972 it not only leveled the athletic playing field, but it contributed to leveling the field academically, in business and in society as a whole. School sports don’t exist in a vacuum. Women doing well at one thing affects the perception of women in general.

As the US women’s soccer team plays Japan in the World-Cup finals on Sunday they are playing for our country. The WHOLE country. Men on Twitter and Facebook are referring to members of this national team as their “heroes.” Fathers and daughters will watch and cheer together. Young boys who love “the beautiful game” will learn the names of these women and maybe even try to emulate them on the field. Every time women are seen in non-traditional roles, in leadership roles, traditionally male professions or as sports heroes, it levels all playing fields for women.