160 not out

When Abby Wambach went out of her way to thank Dan Borislow for flying her family all the way from Rochester to Harrison to see her beat the living hell out of the all-time international goal-scoring record, my first thought was “Boy, I’m sure glad Borislow refuted all those terrible things they said about him when he ran his WPS franchise. Like how he made grown adults and athletes call him daddy, how he bullied his underlings and pampered stars, and whose refusal to run the team as anything resembling a professional franchise set the sport back years. Sure glad all that turned out to be untrue.” Links here:  

Huh. That’s weird. Google, Bing, and Yahoo have all scrubbed any reference to those charges against Borislow being untrue in any detail whatsover. Maybe Edward Snowden has them on his thumb drive.

I know that family is important. The people you live with and love are the center of your heart, and you want to show that you appreciate and care about them. Letting your family know you love them, and that you’re proud of them, and that you would never let them down or disown them or act like you’re ashamed of them – these are all crucial things.

And if Borislow spared Abby’s family the agony of the Throg’s Neck Bridge – well, what better time to say so than when you’ve broken one of the biggest records in the sport.

Well, I for one will respect Abby Wambach’s wishes. When I think of Abby Wambach, the first name I will immediately think of is Dan Borislow. Coaches, teammates and family come and go, but guys who buy you plane rides are forever. And I hope when Abby is voted into the Hall of Fame, Borislow is right there, front and center, letting everyone know what he meant to Wambach and what their priorities are.

Her accomplishments as a player can never be matched by anyone, except maybe for the several dozen that have actually won a World Cup.

What burnt-out cinder of fairness remains to me demands that I point out that among the many, many people overjoyed and congratulatory towards Wambach and her achievement was Mia Hamm. There’s also nothing to suggest that if and when Wambach’s record is broken, she won’t be similarly gracious.

However, just because Mia Hamm seems to have no problem with Wambach’s friendship with Dan Borislow doesn’t necessarily invalidate my opinion. I have the same answer I’ve had for a lot of what I consider to be various USWNT transgressions of classiness over the past few years. Perhaps someday there will be a women’s soccer player who quotes Charles Barkley and denies being a role model, but that day is certainly not this, and Wambach is not Barkley:

I think it’s a responsibility and an honor to be a role model for anybody, and I think it’s even a bigger honor to be a role model for younger childre, because, you know, “Children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”

Even if she didn’t want to be a role model, she chose a career where young girls by the millions would look up to her. And her on-field accomplishments deserve all the praise possible – unless, again, you think of the World Cup as some sort of tournament to prove what the best team in the world is, or something crazy like that.  But she is a role model, and the people she's putting front and center in her life carry weight.  What she says and doesn't say, who she supports and doesn't support, may not mean a lot if all you're doing is studying how she played the game.  But role model means a lot more.

The sad truth, apparently, is that we still aren’t at a point in society where female athletes can be judged simply on their accomplishments.  The New York Times made a huge mistake earlier this month:

An article in some editions on May 26 about the Los Angeles Galaxy’s acquisition of Robbie Rogers, an openly gay soccer player, erroneously included one soccer player among prominent women who came out publicly during their athletic careers. Abby Wambach is not among them.

It’s very, very disappointing having to read that. It is nobody’s place to make assumptions on someone’s orientation, and if the Times simply saw a strong female athlete and bought into stereotypes, then that is despicable and scandalous.

And I’m sorry to say that the Times isn’t the only culprit here. Abby Wambach’s private life is her private life. So whoever is responsible for this and this should be deeply ashamed of themselves, and should take it down immediately.