Blow It Like Beckham

Being a huge fan of the whole equal opportunity for all thing, I am always gratified when, for example, some steel mill or plumbers' union or golf club or whatever is forced to open the doors to qualified women. Fair is fair, says I, and if you can carry the freight then may God bless.

The only thing that makes me crazy is when said distaff persons finally get into the previously all-male locker room and are shocked to find out that the boys post pictures of naked women on the walls and use incredibly crude language and make derogatory remarks about each others' sexual equipment.

They complain bitterly and demand that this stuff change at once, because their tender little selves are just too fragile to cope with it. At which point I cry foul: you wanted in, honey, and you got in. If you want equal treatment, then you can't bitch when that's exactly what you get.

And the same has to go for soccer. Maybe especially for soccer.

You want the same attention, the same treatment, the same pay and the same respect that the men's team gets? Your foresisters went so far as to threaten to strike if you didn't get the same kind of money they get?

OK fine, then here it is:

That was really, really shitty.

Embarrassing. Sad. Revolting. Disgraceful.

Don't give me the "plucky little ladies" jazz, the stuff that you always find so condescending and patrimonial and a vestige of whatever-the-hell they teach you about in Womyns' Studies courses.

If that display of incompetence had been presented yesterday by, say, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya and Juan Agudelo, BigSoccer would be on the verge of implosion even as we speak, the servers glowing red hot and on the verge of bursting into flames with post after post and thread after thread full of invectives aimed at everyone from Sunil Gulati down to and including the guy who mops up the shower room.

Now of course that's not going to happen. Most people in these here parts are male and we're conditioned from birth to be nice to ladies, be they mothers, wives, daughters or a greasy skank you fell over in the bus station mens' room.

Just remember that the next time you want to sniff to some sympathetic reporter about how you don't get treated the same as the guys.

Sometimes, that's a really good thing.

The next time I have to hear about how the bright side is that winning the WWC is a wonderful thing for the poor, long-suffering people of Japan, devastated by a natural disaster, I'm going to lose it.

I mean, is that the deal now? That choking on a World Cup is somehow not so bad because it gives "hope" to one or another group of victims someplace?

By that Karmic logic, Haiti is apparently long overdue for some serious trophies, we ought to tank a few Olympic events for Bangladeshi athletes and let's all cheer for the Sundanese the next time they play - well, whatever it is they do well. Shooting Animists isn't yet a medal sport as far as I know.

Nobody is more appreciative of ESPNs' (self) interest in soccer than I. If it wasn't for them and the deal that John Skipper and Chuck Blazer pounded out a few years back MLS, for example, might not even exist any more.

So if they feel they have to inflict Ian Darke and Julie Foudy on us as payment for their largesse, fine. I can cope.

And I recognize that they feel they have to have one of their "anchor" people presiding over the coverage. I do.

But for the love of all that's holy, why does it have to be the imbecilic Bob Ley?

I stopped keeping track of his inanities early on, as I just didn't have the strength, but even without it, the clear # 1 was when, after Pia Sundhage remarked that her team showed a special kind of American spirit, Ley commented that it seemed like a kind of "jingoistic" thing to say.

Leaving aside the fact that the Swedish Sundhage isn't exactly a member of the DAR, and ignoring the obvious point that Ley clearly doesn't know what "jingoistic" means, does this kind of thing enhance the viewers' understanding of the event in any meaningful way or is he just trying to show off?

Then again, it could be worse: they could bring in Rachel Nichols.

And what World Cup would be complete without a very peculiar story involving the North Koreans?

This time around, it seems that FIFA got back positive doping tests from two NorKo women, elected to then test the entire team - I understand that's never been done before - and three more players set the Dope-O-Meter bells madly ringing.

But of course, there's a logical explanation:

It seems that a while back the team was struck by lightning so as a treament or a palliative or something they were all given doses of dried, ground up musk deer glands.

FIFA called in the World Anti-Doping Agency, who were as perplexed as everyone else. Clenbuterol in your Big Mac, sure, but musk deer glands in your kimchi was a little farther than they were able to go.

They finally issued a statement saying that they "had never encountered this paticular substance" before and really didn't know what the hell to do about it.

Nobody seemed anxious to inquire how it was, exactly, that a large number of players were hit by lightning and what exactly musk deer gland does to fix the problem, whatever it was.


Like a couple of kids with a new toy, Darke and Foudy couldn't seem to stop babbling yesterday about how the Japanese women were known as the "Nadeshiko", which is, they assured us "a lovely pink flower".

Well yes, it is, although it's only a variety of carnation and not some exotic Japanese form of Edelweis which grows only on the highest peaks of Mount Fuji as they seemed to want to imagine.

Furthermore, I'm reliably informed that the term is used sort of apologetically; it connotes traditional, submissive, obedient Japanese womanhood. The term was used extensively in government propaganda during the war, the point being to get them to shut up and do as they were told.

They use the name so that everyone knows that while they may be athletes, deep down they're still just a bunch of rice-frying, kimono-mending, tea-ceremony hostessing homebodies. In other words, non-threatening to the masculine Japanese cultural norms.

I'm not sure that if it was explained that way to Ms. Foudy she would have been quite so eager to toss it around.

Anyway, as you can tell I'm in a pretty foul mood today. All last week we had to listen to people saying that the US had won but had not played as well as their opponents. Yesterday I thought they played better than their opponents and they lost.

Maybe the secret is to not play so well. I don't really know.

The real question though is this:

Did losing make that much difference in terms of womens' soccer in the US?

I'm not referring to the mentally deranged babbling of Foxsports' Billy Witz, which dwreck discusses below. Drive-by soccer articles written by jock-sniffing generic sportswriters are of no interest to anyone, particularly when they take on something as complex as national style.

He knows nothing and is an imbecile and you can tell him I said so.

Rather, I'm thinking of the impact on WPS, a league which could use a shot of good will, interest, excitement, attention, ticket sales, etc.

And my hunch is that while losing the final will cost some coverage from the now-you-see-them, now-you-don't crowd - say goodbye to PTI and Around the Horn, ladies - the ponytail crowd won't be deterred one bit.

As you know this corner has never been much on the whole "we should support womens' soccer so that little girls have heroes" argument; that casts the whole enterprise as a civic duty rather than a sport that can stand on it's own as both activity and entertainment.

At the same time, the legions of young women who spend their weekends playing at soccer tournaments will stand a little taller this summer. The boys can have Landon and Clint and Timmy; the girls just spent the last two weeks watching Abby and Hope and Meghan and they fell in love.

And that's a very good thing.

We thought 1999 was the beginning, but maybe, in reality, it was just prologue. We were light years ahead of everyone else, which may be fun sometimes but isn't really good for the game.

This may actually turn out better. Check back with me in twelve years.