Home » Why I Love Women’s Sports.

Why I Love Women’s Sports.

dandelions-and-soccer-ball-1330576-mOkay, first of all, I love to watch sports in general. Mostly football, but I’ll watch significant games in pretty much any sport.

Even Curling, which hardly counts as a sport. It’s like housekeeping on ice. But I digress.

But there’s something about watching women’s team sports that really appeals to me, and it isn’t the uniforms, or wardrobe malfunctions or anything like that. It’s something that goes to the heart of sports itself.

Women tend to be better team players than men.

When I watch football, and I watch games from all age groups and levels from Grasscutters through to the pros, as the kids get older, I see a change in how they approach the game. The obvious change is it becomes more like work than fun. Pee-Wees and Middle School, the game is still a game. But once you reach high school, it becomes more than that; it becomes a job. You have to work at it, and that takes just a little bit of the innocence and joy out of it. I’m not complaining about it; it is necessary. It’s just a different flavor.

But the other thing that changes is the boys themselves. Pee-Wee players are easy to coach into the team mindset. It’s not hard to get them to commit themselves to a team. You can teach them that they have to subordinate themselves for the good of the team. Playing assignment football, maintaining your zone or line and trusting the guy next to you to do the same thing; it’s all part of being on a team.

In high school, that starts to get harder. Players are starting to look after themselves and their own interests. Some are looking to play at the next level, so they try to make sure they get enough exposure. Other players know that for them, this is just a hobby. They work hard enough to play, but they also won’t go out of their way to risk injury or anything like that. In college, it gets even harder, and the pressure to shine individually becomes harder to resist. And in the Pros, most time the team is just a team in name only. Players are bought and sold, traded around like livestock. And you only last as long with a team as you are valuable. Prime example, Bernie Kosar getting cut by the Cleveland Browns.

Coaches like to say “There’s no ‘I’ in team,” but when you watch the game today, all the hot dogging and showboating shows that there’s plenty of ego in there.

I just watched the Women’s World Cup final, which the US team won easily 5-2, and what struck me was how close the ladies on the team were. It was clear that they left their egos on the bus, and when they took the field, it was all about winning the game for the team, not individual glory. Carli Lloyd scored three goals in the first half in a performance that will not be equaled anytime soon, but as soon as Abbey Wambach came onto the pitch for the final moments of the game, she ran over to her and gave her the Captain’s armband. And when the team took the stand to hoist the trophy, it wasn’t Lloyd or the other young stars that got the honor; it was Wambach and Christie Rampone. And when Julie Johnston scored an own goal to cut the US lead to 4-2, nobody on her team gave her any grief about it. Nobody called her out. They just kept playing and got the point back a few moments later.

I compare this to a semi-pro football team I work with. They had trouble all season playing as a team. They had many talented athletes, and should have been able to keep up with any team in the league, but there were too many players who were more concerned with their playing time, or how the coach talked to them, or whether or not they were being used properly. If another player made a mistake, they called him out on it and ran him down. Several competitive games dissolved into blowouts as the team lost its composure.

Sportswriters talk about team chemistry, and how crucial it can be, and we’re all familiar with the team that performed way above any rational expectations. A star is injured or graduates, and the rest of the team suddenly has to step up and fill the gap. And something magic happens. Think the 1980 US Men’s Olympic Hockey Team. A group of underdogs are brought together and they become more as a team than they are as individuals.

And it seems to me that is something that comes easier to women. Sure there are rivalries and conflicts within the team, but not to the same extent as in men’s teams. Watching the US team tonight as they hoisted the trophy was like watching a bunch of girls at a slumber party, and I don’t mean that in any derogatory sense. They were completely in the moment, laughing, giggling, dancing, and sharing the moment with each other. All the intensity, desire, focus and commitment were released and they were just having fun.

And games are supposed to fun.

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