Manifestly American: FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions

Sana Ali

Sana Ali

Sana Ali is a fashion designer born in Pakistan and raised in New York with a Master's Degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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57 Responses

  1. Avatar Brent F
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    I follow enough international Women’s Soccer to know that the American team are totally braggarts and jerks. They’re the strongest squad and know it and like to show off about it, which includes rubbing it in the face of less talented teams.

    It’s their team identity. Just own it. They can be heroes to Americans and inspirations to girls to achieve and still be heels to the rest of the world. The dynamic of the top international women’s soccer team with the rest of the world isn’t entirely about internal American gender politics as much as a lot of people want it to be.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Brent F
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      I’d say that for many Americans, they are the most obnoxious thing to hit soccer since the vuvuzela, ranking right up there with Dennis Rodman, Lance Armstrong, Johnny Manziel, Colin Kaepernick, and Tonya Harding.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner
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        I’m not afraid to say it: they’re uppity.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling
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          It was the play against Thailand that made so many people recoil. Physically, it was like playing a junior high girls team.

          The Thai’s goalies average 5’6″, the defenders and midfielders average 5’3″, and their forwards are 5’6″. 5’3 is shorter than the average American non-athletic woman.

          All three US goalies are 5’9″, our defenders average 5’7″, our midfielders are 5’8″, and our forwards are 5’7″.

          Going by average US female heights, that mismatch was the same as having 16-20 year-old girls playing an equal mix of 12 to 13 year-old girls.

          They should’ve eased up after it was, oh, 8-0. It’s not like they can bank the extra points towards the next match.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner
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            *Shakes fist menacingly*

            Come the Revolution, those tall poppies will get what’s coming to them!Report

            • Avatar Brent F in reply to Chip Daniels
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              The corollary to “if you don’t want to see us celly, don’t let us score” is, if you don’t want to be treated like the privileged jerk team, don’t act like jerks while being privileged.

              Its not necessarily a bad thing for the sport for the overwhelmingly better resourced team with a much larger talent pool to draw on to act the heel. It makes for a good narrative. But if you’re going to cheer for them, own that you’re cheering for the Yankees.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Brent F
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                says:

                Yes. I wish I wrote this comment.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Brent F
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                says:

                “Tall poppies” was a sarcastic reference to the conservative penchant of celebrating the superstar individual, the brash entrepreneurial genius, the sort of people who flaunt their wealth with gaudy gilded New York penthouses.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                You need to update your stereotyping. Rich, tacky liberals and conservatives receive praise from their ideological allies. Conservatives are more likely to praise the accomplishment of a relatively politically-neutral or even politically-opposed successful person, which isn’t a bad thing. But if I had to list all the gaudy New Yorkers I’d heard of, they’d mostly be liberals in the entertainment field. Rich, famous, tacky Angelinos greatly outnumber their NYC counterparts.

                What conservatives tend not to do (although we do slip up) is praise successful people based on their race and sex.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                You bring up a good point that the celebration of superstars and tolerance of arrogance is omnipresent in our culture.

                And maybe it is tolerable in sports which by its very design demands a win/lose dynamic.

                But maybe we should reject the sort of Darwinian survival of the fittest ethos as a template for society at large.

                Maybe we need less stress on competition, and more stress on cooperation and helping each other succeed.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                This is probably one of those things where virtue is found in the middle. I really should read Plato some day.

                I want to make a silly joke, that the middle ground between too much and too little focus on winning is found in covering the point spread. But there’s some truth in that. One should set realistic expectations but seek to exceed them. The person can use his competitive instinct, but toward competitive or cooperative goals.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                The book I would write were I not too lazy and untalented, is “Everything I Need To Know About Politics I Learned in Boy Scouts”.

                Where they pair the drive to individual achievement of merit with the Patrol Method, where the slogan is (direct quote) “All For One, One For All”.Report

          • Avatar Fish in reply to George Turner
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            Goal difference in the group stage matters. Pasting Thailand 13-0 made the US +13 to Sweden’s +2. After the match against Chile, goal diff was US +16 to Sweden +6. Because of this difference, the only way Sweden tops the group is if they beat the US. Goal difference takes a draw off the table.

            And also, this is the WORLD FREAKING CUP. If you can’t celebrate scoring a goal in this competition, where, exactly would it be ok?Report

            • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Fish
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              Fish,

              The important thing to remember is that there is nothing the USWNT could have done that would have mattered. If they had played keepaway all game long, they would have been pilloried for that too. The point here is that we have commenters starting with their total disdain for this team and working backwards into criticisms of it.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                Mind-reading again?Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Pinky
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                @pinky Mind-reading is not necessary when what would theoretically need to be read is out on public display.

                There are a group of sports fans that want their teams to be apolitical by which they mean, “not having politics that differ from the sport’s fans.” The USWNT want to be paid for their accomplishments and these fans don’t like that. The USWNT does not respect a president that does not respect them and these fans don’t like that either. From there, it simply a project to find things to whine about, whether it is being too competitive in a sports competition, or inevitably something else.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                I have no idea what the politics are of people who frown on the poorly-behaved American women’s team. Some people probably hate women, some hate Americans, and some had bad manners. The only one who is definitely being motivated by politics is you, by your own statement. You’re passing judgment on a large group of people on a solely political criterion, that might not even be true.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Pinky
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                “I have no idea what the politics are of people who frown on the poorly-behaved American women’s team”

                I do and so does Sam.

                “You’re passing judgment on a large group of people on a solely political criterion, that might not even be true.”

                No, we pass judgment on a large group of snowflakes based on their thin-skinned dispositions and their political leanings towards said thin-skinned dispositions.

                If you want to chide me for passing judgment – guilty as charged. If you want to think I have no reason to, I’ll just suggest taking your head out of the sand or wherever it’s hiding.

                It’s pull day for me tonight in case you need any help with that.Report

              • Avatar Fish in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                There are absolutely some people who are going to criticize the USWNT no matter what they do. It’s difficult to have a conversation with people who have this attitude. However, there are also people who don’t watch soccer and don’t understand the mechanics behind group play and the factors involved in who wins the group, who advances, and who doesn’t. Those people I can talk to about soccer–and boy do I like to talk about soccer–and maybe we can come to an understanding about why scoring goals matters and why it’s ok to celebrate when you pot one.

                And then there are people who just don’t like fun. Those poor folks are beyond help.Report

              • Avatar Brent F in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                Oh lay off the strawmen, it was never about running up the score, that’s a red herring to distract from the actual issue.

                The complaints were explicitly about the showboating in excess of what’s reasonable. The people making the complaints tended to state the goal scoring is fine. People’s beef is acting like you won the tournament when you scored against a minnow. The point is you don’t act like you’re all that when you pummel someone so far below you in skill that they can’t muster the slightest defence and expect to be treated like the heroes. If you want to act like the heel, expect to be treated like the heel and not the face.

                It also started with other female players calling out them out, not a sexist conspiracy of sports commentators. People who’ve been on the other side of the USWNT’s antics and aren’t impressed.Report

              • Avatar Fish in reply to Brent F
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                Hey, I’m just happy that we’re talking about actual football and not our silly American version in which nobody except for two specific guys are allowed to touch the ball with their foot!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                An argument to prove P:

                Premise: People who disagree with P would have disagreed no matter what the facts are.
                Conclusion: PReport

        • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Mike Schilling
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          There isn’t a single “uppity” thing about them. They don’t owe their respect to people that do not and will not return it.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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            Well, I’ll give them this. They do a great job of embracing the role of Ivan Drago or Apollo Creed, and that will help them transition Women’s soccer into sports entertainment, potentially generating a lot more revenue by providing drama and a back story.Report

  2. Avatar Mark
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    My heartiest congratulations to the American squad. They are a great team. All of the participants in this tournament are dedicated athletes who deserve respect. I would like to single out the goalkeeper for the Netherlands who made some amazing saves. Rapinoe’s penalty shot goal was simply not humanly stoppable.
    I hope that this will inspire some talented young American men to get into the sport. If the inspiration is not enough, google Lionel Messi income.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    For all this, they should at the very least be paid the same as the men’s team.

    As a percentage of revenues or as a flat number?Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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      To save people from having to look.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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        The labor theory of value shows up in a lot of places.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Marchmaine
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        FWIW, this is highly misleading.

        It is absolutely true that, globally, men’s soccer makes money than does women’s. However, the class action lawsuit filed by the women players for the US is not addressing global issues; they are addressing payment from their employer.

        The numbers in the article you shared are FIA numbers. But FIFA does not employ (or pay) players from either the mens’ World Cup team or the women’s. Both the men and the women are employed (and paid) by the USSF.

        The lawsuit alleges that the amount of revenue the women generate for the USSF is as much or greater than the revenue the men generate. Yes, the base money shared by FIFA for the men is more than then for the women, but that base money is a small percentage of the USSF’s total annual revenue. The rest is from TV and sponsorship, where the women unsurprisingly bring in more because, well, they are on TV more (because they go deeper in the tournament), get high ratings (because people watch winning teams more), and sponsorship wise they are a much hotter commodity.

        If you are a “The People Who Make More For The Company Should Get Paid More” kind of free-marketer, you should be siding with the women players, at least in the US.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Tod Kelly
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          Oh, I think their pay is the least they have to worry about. A good team would get to meet Trump in the Oval Office. But these girls aren’t going to meet Trump, or Pence, or McConnell, or Pelosi, or Mike Pompeo, or Steven Mnuchin, or, a dozen notches lower down the list, even Kirstjen Nielsen. They’re going to get greeted by Chuck Schumer, Senator minority leader.

          Partisan politics is driving them to shame and humiliate themselves.

          Little League World Series champions? White House
          Penn State men’s wrestling team? White House
          Ohio State men’s volleyball team? White House
          University of Washington women’s rowing team? White House
          University of Maryland’s women’s lacrosse team? White House

          Women’s World Cup Soccer champions? Chuck-E-Cheese.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Tod Kelly
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          Well I am perfectly happy agree that the Women’s team should receive compensation as a percentage of their revenues (though I am not free-marketer type and not sure why that would be relevant)… and if that makes them better compensated than men, bully for them.

          The Forbes article is describing a 45x difference in Revenues between men’s/women’s soccer… if that is not true in the case of the USSF then I am wrong. Surprised, but wrong.

          Upon further digging, It would seem that the biggest issue is a failure in variable revenue sharing and that seems to be what the WNT is asking for:

          “Under this model, player compensation would increase in years in which the USSF derived more revenue from WNT activities and player compensation would be less if revenue from those activities decreased,” the 28 U.S. female players wrote in their recent court complaint. “This showed the players’ willingness to share in the risk and reward of the economic success of the WNT.”

          I’m all in favor of such a model. It would also mean that if the Men’s team were to experience success then pay disparities based upon revenue would re-emerge… so it isn’t simply “equal pay”… but it certainly seems (more) equitable pay.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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          says:

          The lawsuit alleges that the amount of revenue the women generate for the USSF is as much or greater than the revenue the men generate. Yes, the base money shared by FIFA for the men is more than then for the women, but that base money is a small percentage of the USSF’s total annual revenue. The rest is from TV and sponsorship, where the women unsurprisingly bring in more because, well, they are on TV more (because they go deeper in the tournament), get high ratings (because people watch winning teams more), and sponsorship wise they are a much hotter commodity.

          Given that this is the case, they *SHOULD* be making more money and it’s messed up that they aren’t.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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            Alas, its more complicated than that:

            The contested estimate is that WNT generates ~51% of the total revenues.

            “A Washington Post analysis found that the women’s team did make more in bonuses and salary than the men in 2018 — but the women played almost twice the number of games and won a lot more of them.”

            2018 WNT: $17.1M / 2018 MNT: $14.6M

            Which means they took home 53% of the 2018 Player Fees on generating 51% revenue.

            So if the measure is Soccer Player Annual Compensation, the women earned more; if the measure is per game played, the Men earned more; if the measure is Win the World Cup, the women earn less in bonuses… BUT

            “Fifa prize money is the basis for most of the bonuses US Soccer provides the players, the federation is wiling to overpay the women – but only as long as they win the World Cup. US Soccer’s $9.4m bonus for the men’s team if they win the World Cup is 24% of Fifa’s $38m in prize, whereas US Soccer’s bonus of $2.5m for the women’s team if they win the World Cup is around 126% of Fifa’s prize money offered when the USWNT’s CBA was signed in 2017.”

            So on a per World Cup win basis, the Men get bigger per game $$ but less of the overall purse, but the women are compensated beyond what the World Cup purse supports. And, presumably if the Men’s team is taking home a World Cup, then the multiples of revenue they generate via Merch and TV is going to amp up from their lethargic multiples closer to 9x, 15x or maybe even 45x.

            So… I’m still in favor of good revenue sharing plans, but I’m more convinced after further research that we’re working with apples and bananas here, despite the sloganeering.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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      That WWE belt implies that the matches were rigged! Would Britain and the Netherlands take a dive against an American team that happens to be suing FIFA, trying to get twice as much money for the female World Cup athletes? A team that has AOC, Buttigieg, Beto, Gillibrand, and Julian Castro backing their equal pay demands?

      This could be bigger than the Black Socks scandal!

      If I had any idea women’s soccer could be this entertaining, I’d have actually watched some of it. Well, I did watch the final 10 minutes of the US vs UK match, and amusingly, at the end of it I couldn’t understand why the girl’s in the red jerseys were celebrating because the US won. Then I realized that I’d had the teams backwards.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to George Turner
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        The point is less that soccer matches are pre-determined (I have no reason to believe that this is so) and more that, hey, Game Recognize Game.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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          It’s a WWE belt. You have to roll with it and make up the dramatic conflict, fictional as it may be!

          *consults with some story-line experts for the WWE, along with some script writers for Real Housewives, The Bachelor, and various soap-operas, as we start working on the script for World Cup Behind the Scenes – “Scene IV, the screaming match in the Swedish locker room.”

          Here’s a video of pro wrestling’s approach to a horrible mismatch with a young Asian girl.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTizPJj23QY

          That’s in stark contrast to the US Women’s approach of humiliating them until they cry. To really make it as a pro athlete you have to win over the crowd. It was true in the gladiatorial arena, and it’s true today, because delivering balls into a net isn’t the actual job, entertaining people is. If an audience doesn’t show up or tune in, there’s no revenue to divvy up. You can play the villain to generate that interest, as the WWE famously does, but realize that the crowd is showing up hoping to see the villain lose, and lose badly.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to George Turner
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            You don’t make the real money with the match.

            You make the real money with the re-match.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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              Very true, but I figured the match was against Thailand, were they really established their role, and the rematch was the rest.

              By the way, I’ll be avoiding Thai restaurants for the next few months because they might not be happy with Americans these days. Plus, I’d feel guilty about having to hate and despise them because they hate women, hate equality, and support Trump, as does anyone who harbors any negative impressions of the behavior of the US team.

              I really despise the French, who were pulling for their bitter rivals, the British, which just proves that the French are a bunch of Trump-supporting right-wing misogynists.Report

  4. Avatar Richard Hershberger
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    “In a perfect world, sports has nothing to do with the politics. ”

    This puts a huge burden on “perfect world.” It has to be a world in which everyone–and I do mean everyone in the literal sense–agrees on stuff like who gets to play and how or if they are paid. In other words, it is a world without politics of any sort.

    In the real world, sports has never been separated from politics. It was, within living memory, and hot button political issue about letting Those People play. Actually, it still is, depending on which Those People we are talking about. And many people who would be offended if you suggested they had any animus toward the Those People of a few generations back playing are the same ones complaining about this generation’s Those People.

    Then there is the pay issue. Every fan who expresses an opinion on player compensation is taking a position on labor versus management. So too every fan declining to express an opinion, though more subtly so.

    I wrote about this in a different context a couple of years ago. Politics in sports isn’t something you can opt out of. That’s not what either politics or sports are. https://ordinary-times.com/2017/08/02/the-new-doctor/Report

  5. Avatar Vikram Bath
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    Just about every night here when I pass by the TV, there is a women’s volleyball game on: China versus someone else. I’m often a bit surprised at how enthusiastic the responses players give to just about every point where they do just about anything. I am not talking about game-winning points. These are points early in games doing ordinary things like spiking the ball or blocking a spiked ball, each of which happen many times within a single game.

    And yet, there is a considerable amount of fist pumping because they are somehow excited about playing volleyball or whatever.

    And that basically seems OK to me? They presumably play volleyball a lot. They presumably have invested a lot of time and effort into getting to play on these teams, and it makes sense to be happy when you do a good thing.

    As for running up the score in a game that has been decidedly one, I think it’s worth noting that there are a couple ways that can happen.

    One way is that a team can purposefully make moves to run up the score. For example, I once saw a football game where the winning team that was up more than two touchdowns faked taking a knee at the end of a game and instead threw a touchdown pass to go up by three touchdowns before the clock ran out. I can see why someone might judge that as jerkish behavior. (Though I would argue if you don’t like it, don’t make teams take a knee to run out the clock. It would be an easy rule change to make taking a knee optional and instead let the team take a down to keep the clock running.

    A second way the score can be run up is that a team just keeps playing and because it wasn’t at all a fair match-up to begin with, the score ends up lopsided even without the winning team making any sort of special effort to run up the score. I have seen this too innumerable times in football games where the winning team simply runs the ball, not trying to really score, but it turns out that they score anyway because they are a good team. Again, perhaps the teams should do something about this and take the ball to the opposing team’s 1-yard line and then take several knees, but I don’t really think that is any less condescending. Again, if you don’t like this sort of result, it’d be a trivial rule change to implement a mercy rule that a 10-goal advantage to one team ends the game right there. There are plenty of sports that have such rules, and if you want to avoid larger blowouts, just do that.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Vikram Bath
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      I’ve seen this in men’s and women’s volleyball, both beach and indoor. High fives at every break in the play. I’ve watched more beach volleyball, which is two-on-two, and I can understand the psychological need for steady support there. There are only two players, and they need to be perfectly in sync, and about half the time the ball hits the ground, it’s your or your partner’s fault. All you need is for one player to show frustration at his partner, and the match is doomed (maybe even your partnership is doomed).Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Pinky
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        I wouldn’t note high fives. That would seem normal. I’m talking fist pumps. Really vigorous fist pumps, often accompanied by a cry out.

        Good point about two-on-two. Though I don’t know. In another way it could be worse if you miss the ball and are on a team of 8 on the court. at least with a two-person team you both know you will have plenty of chances to screw upReport

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Vikram Bath
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      American Samoa once lost a soccer match with Australia 31-0.

      *checks to see if the historic event was posted*

      Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to George Turner
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        I don’t see the Australian team dancing around with every goal. That makes a difference.Report

        • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Pinky
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          It does! Though I also want to ask whether this was a world cup match.

          Also, it does seem different to win a game by 32 versus 13 even though they are both insurmountable leads.

          A third question I have is whether the Australian team was truly suppressing their joy of scoring to spare the feelings of the other team or if they just genuinely weren’t excited about scoring. To look at how that goalie handled some of those shots, I don’t think I’d feel like partying either. I’m not sure this is a game that needed to be played at all. In contrast, the teams the US women beat by large margins were actually pretty decent.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Vikram Bath
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      The point about condescension of a good one. In the early days of baseball you would see a big city club go play the local boys in smaller locales. Sometimes they would run up a score like 103-7. The locals took it in stride, regarding it as an educational experience and inspiration to improve. There wasn’t a concept of easing off against weak competition. I have not seen anything explicit, but I suspect it would have been regarded as an insult.Report

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