A GRIP ON SPORTS • Is it time for another episode of “Tempest in a Coffee Pot?” Sure it is.
• The U.S. Women’s National Team won its World Cup opener yesterday. That’s not news. The U.S. women are among the best in the world, if not the best.
What is news, however, is the final score. Thirteen-nil. Yep, in a competition among the best teams on the planet, a game finished 13-0.
Is that what caused the tempest? Well, sort of. More ado was made about the way the U.S. team celebrated some of the later goals, including one that put them up by the insurmountable score of 9-0. (OK, in hindsight the lead was insurmountable at nil-nil, but that would be nit-picking.)
Man, did the Interweb explode. The non-social media went nuts.
How dare they score so much? How dare they celebrate so exuberantly? How dare they … ooh, look, a squirrel.
The furor will die down quickly, sure, but for one 10-hour news cycle, folks all over the world were debating how ugly American this rout was. Heck, a World Cup TV show based in Canada, where basketball fans had, just 24 hours earlier, cheered an injury to one of the best players on the planet, denounced the team’s group hug after Megan Rapinoe’s goal put the U.S. ahead by nine.
We would like to point out a few things.
– This is a professional sport. Everyone is paid to play. It isn’t youth soccer. There are no juice boxes and orange slices. (Well, there may be, but only if the staff nutritionist and trainers say the highly paid players need them.)
– The World Cup features 24 of the planet’s best national teams (but possibly not all the best because of the qualifying system). Thailand is one of them.
– The Thailand team was ranked 29th in the world by FIFA, the governing body, in December of last year as the World Cup draw came together. It isn’t the lowest-ranked team in the tournament. That would be Jamaica, ranked 53rd. In fact, there are six teams in the tournament ranked lower than Thailand, including the next U.S. opponent, Chile.
– The second tiebreaker used in determining group positioning, after points earned for results, is goal differential. And the third is goals scored. That’s important considering every country wants to have the easiest road to the title through the knockout rounds. If the U.S. and Sweden play to a draw in group play, the 13-0 score might be what moves the United States on as group champion. Considering the possible matchups, that might be crucial to winning the Cup.
– Was the celebrating a bit too much? Sure. Considering the differences in athletic ability and size between the teams, the U.S. was going to win – and win big. As the Thailand players tired, the advantages became more apparent. Toning down the celebrations might have been advisable, but in this day and age – baseball’s new marketing mantra is, remember, "Let The Kids Play" – celebrations are not only not discouraged, they are, well, celebrated. If you cheer bat flips and dunk celebrations and Marshawn Lynch, you would be a hypocrite to criticize what happened after the late goals yesterday. Though, if you have always been ticked off by that stuff, you are ancient (like me). So complain away. Don’t forget to scream at the cloud blocking the sun while you are it. You’ve got as much chance getting that to dissipate as you have stopping the evolution in how the world views celebrations.
– And for those of you wondering why the stars were in the game late (and Twitter told us who you are), you have to remember soccer doesn’t allow wholesale substitution. Three is all you get in a regulation match. So eight starters are going to be out there at the end no matter the score.
– Finally, we want to remind you again this is a professional sport. Everyone is paid to play. The U.S. is trying to win an event that comes around only every four years. So is everyone else who steps on the pitch. It’s all about what’s best for the team’s ultimate goal. Even if that means scoring a baker’s dozen of them.
WSU: Around the Pac-12, Washington State has its new baseball coach. And now so does Oregon. The Ducks hired a former assistant yesterday. … There is football news from Colorado, USC (in the form of transfers) and California (in the form of a bunch of money). … There is some interesting, if not good, news from Washington.
Gonzaga: We have spent the past few summers following the exploits of Few Good Men, the Gonzaga-centric team playing in The Basketball Tournament. We won’t get to do that this year. Jim Meehan tells us why.
Preps: Spokane has always honored its younger athletes and their contributions to our community. Last night it did it again, with the Youth Sports Awards downtown. Dave Nichols was there and he has this story on the awards and a column on some other seniors who deserve recognition. Libby Kamrowski was also at the Martin Woldson Theater and has the photo report.
Mariners: I watched a bit of the M’s game last night from Minnesota. Mike Leake was dealing. Which is good, considering he’s on the trade block. But I knew, just knew, the M’s bullpen wouldn’t hold the lead. So I turned it off and went outside to read. I was right. They didn’t. … Dee Gordon is back. … Justus Sheffield is struggling. … The bullpen meltdown was covered well by Gene Warnick in his Out of Right Field recap.
Sounders: The MLS isn't playing but Seattle does have a U.S. Open Cup match this week.
• Hey, I joined Larry Weir yesterday to talk about a whole bunch of items in the latest Press Box pod. I talked and talked and talked. Sorry. Still, listen to it anyway as you do the housecleaning or walk or try to take a nap. My soothing tones are good for all of that. Until later …
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