Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Girls in the Game

On Sunday, the USA v Brazil World Cup game proved to be as entertaining as Transformers 3 on a hot summer day. In 3-D. Although there were no space robots or Michael Bay explosions, the game featured a goal within the first two minutes of play, a harsh referee, a devastating red card, an overtime goal by Brazil’s five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, a last minute (in extra extra overtime) equalizer by the US, and a penalty save during the game deciding shoot out.  

And yet, this game earned a 2.6 overnight rating for ESPN compared to last year’s World Cup USA vs Ghana game’s 9.9 rating. The difference? Last year was the men’s World Cup and this year is the women’s World Cup.

Why the disparity? The answer may be found in the history of soccer. The first Women’s World Cup was held in 1999, 61 years after the first Men’s World Cup. From an historical perspective, women’s soccer has had less time to gain popularity and professional development. However, the history of women’s soccer parallels the world’s reception and attitude toward women playing soccer. Here is a great (albeit old) article about women’s soccer vs. men’s soccer. Mostly the differences cited are those of resources, support, and youth coaching. The lack of interest for women’s sports produces a lack of funding and thus less opportunity to develop the profession. This vicious cycle has led to a complicated state of affairs for women’s soccer. Yet, it can be as simple as - getting girls in the game.

Getting girls in the game is as valuable for promoting the future of women’s soccer as it is for the girls who play the game. According to Team-Up for Youth, “Sports and physical activity can give girls positive body image, improved self esteem, tangible experiences of competency and success and increased self confidence.” Through soccer, girls gain a breadth of experiences and life skills that they would otherwise not always have the opportunity to acquire. The good news for women’s soccer? More potential players, supporters, and fans. With new generations, there is hope that women’s soccer will finally get the attention that they deserve.
See how we are helping get girls in the game: visit us at

Watch the USA’s semifinal game against France on ESPN3 on Wednesday, July 13th at 10:30 AM.