In a Crowded Montana Bar Watching Women’s Soccer

I watched the USA versus Germany Women’s World Cup game from a crowded bar in Montana. 

That’s right: Crowded. Suck it, president of FIFA Soccer Sepp Blatter who had this to say about how to create more viewers for women’s soccer: “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so…” Oh, isn’t he so nice for trying to sexualize women in athletics? Anyway, the bar was so crowded, I was more than happy to sit in a chair I had dragged from outside, since there were no other seats left, and watch the game on the projector screen from there. And so commenced one of the best soccer games, male or female, I have ever seen.

After team USA’s first drill of a shot on Germany’s goal, both teams turned it up a notch, despite Germany being exhausted from their overtime game from the weekend before. The game sped up faster and faster, as female and male fans in the bar cheered and shouted with the occasional uproar at a referee call. Everyone’s eyes were stuck to the screen.

Both teams have some of the biggest players in the world cup, so there was no shortage of aggressive plays in the game. In one instance, two opposing players launched into the air to capture a header, but in classic soccer style, ended up smashing their heads into each other. The German player’s head opened into a gushing wound while USA’s Morgan Brian lay in a concussed heap. I’ve never seen someone so pale in my life. Yet both players were sent running back onto the field, one with a bandage over her head. Team USA’s Kelley O’Hara’s final goal, which she volleyed out of the air and into the back of the net after a dramatic team-charge, was some of the best sports watching in men’s or women’s soccer.

Not once did I hear condescending remarks from the men or women in the crowded bar watching the game. I shouldn’t be so amazed by the lack of condescension, but as we are all too aware, patronizing remarks about female athletes are still all too common. But what a beautiful bubble that bar was yesterday, a bubble I see expanding into greater society more and more everyday. One of the women who wore a red, white and blue bandana over her head watching the game in the front row was as outraged as I was at the sexualizing slow motion shot of the USA goalie drinking water and pouring it over her head. The woman made her opinion known to the agreement of everyone around.

Here’s why all of this is so awesome. Soccer is badass and finally women are getting some credit they deserve for being amazing athletes. Although networks are still being chumps about not broadcasting women’s soccer on prominent channels, I can feel the momentum building. As Amy Poehler pointed out, referencing a previous World Cup game: “Come on, networks! You’ll play six hours of pre-Kentucky Derby footage but you can’t broadcast women’s soccer? You think people would rather watch someone talk about hats than watch some badass American bitches take down Colombia?”

Athletics offers unique opportunities like confidence, team building, body-strengthening and an enjoyable freakin’ time for players and viewers: Something women around the world don’t usually get the freedom to enjoy. Women’s sports at the level of the World Cup gives girls something to aim for besides the option that media shoves down their throats, like hobbies revolving around how best to modify their bodies to the appeal of others. Soccer at such a high level gives women something to cheer for and an opportunity for equality and camaraderie. Soccer offers a perfect way for sisters to band together and for everyone to get excited about female athletics.

I love playing soccer. I have since I played midfield and defense in high school. And I continue to love it today while I play for a women’s city-league, where I am one of the youngest at 26 with my over-40’s teammates who rock the field and the bar afterward. But in the past I’d never been very into watching sports. While watching the epic game yesterday, it dawned on me why. I’m so used to being unable to relate with the people playing, because usually it’s just a bunch of dudes running around and I think: “Meh.” But seeing O’Hara, Popp, Sasic and Rapinoe all tare it up and overcome the horrendous turf field they were forced to play on (something FIFA would never make the men play on) was invigorating. They were fucking champions. All of them were, and I can’t wait to see who wins on Sunday.

The time for women athletes is now, and it’s going to keep getting better and better. Just like any team sport, you’ve got to build up momentum and that is just what women’s soccer is doing.

To see what I mean, check out these highlights:

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Julia is traveler and a truth seeker. She is an avid writer and researcher, works for the university where she also studies, and has spent years examining society. She is pursuing a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a Women's and Gender Studies certificate, and immensely enjoys being outdoors, hiking, playing soccer, blogging and playing music with her rad girl-band.

Julia is an avid writer and researcher, works for the university where she also studies, and is a musician for a rad girl-band.

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