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The '99 women's World Cup team: Why the appeal?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I remember being on the desk during that summer, and getting more and more and more pressure as the summer went on to play it up. I remember the team being compared to the 1980 Olympic hockey "Miracle on Ice" team. I remember people saying they will remember where they were when the United States scored the winning goal.

    I guess I get the perfect storm aspect of it. It was in the United States. It was seen as the result of Title IX. It was probably the most televised soccer event in U.S. history, just because cable had really come of age at that point, and especially live sports on cable. It felt manufactured at the time to me. People cared, and they probably couldn't figure out why they cared. They just knew this was a Big Deal. Is it that nothing draws a crowd like a crowd?

    Are those the reasons why people, to this day, talk wistfully about the '99 women's World Cup team the way they do about the '27 Yankees, the '92 Dream Team, and the '70s Steelers? Or am I missing something?
  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    They were hot and hetero.
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    The sport on the big-time international level was still fairly new (Women's WC was only eight years old) and winning it on the home soil, in the Rose Bowl, was pretty much as good as it gets. As the years go past and this turns into just another Big Thing We're Supposed To Win, it's far less interesting and, by extension, the '99 team becomes bigger. Their story never changes.

    And oh yeah, some gal ripped her shirt off when scoring the winner.
  4. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    It was the moment soccer arrived in this country and took its place in the sports pantheon.
    What's that? Twelve years later and still no one gives a rat's ass about soccer?
    Well, then clearly it was the moment women's sports gained equality with men's ... what? Women's soccer teams are barely above club level and the WNBA is one giant tax write off?
    Ummm... Well, there was this:


    Thus proving that if even moderately attractive women take their clothes off in public, people will notice.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Thing is, it was huge well before Foudy took her shirt off.

    Again, it felt so forced at the time. All summer long. Like I was being shamed into pretending this was a Big Deal. Then again, the stadiums were packed.
  6. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    You didn't have to pretend it was a big deal. It really was. The ratings were well into the teens -- similar to the NBA finals or the World Series -- and the stadiums were packed with 80-100K people.

    Also: I am not sure if you are doing your Scottie Pippen/Arkansas thing again, but ... Chastain, not Foudy.
  7. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    I agree with the reasons posted, and I also think those gals were just better.

    After watching yesterday's final, I ended up Googling Kristine Lilly. I couldn't believe what I was reading. She's an amazing athlete, and I hate soccer. I get the feeling you just can't replace someone like Kristine Lilly.

    Side rant that's going to sound horribly un-PC and jingoistic: Can't we get an AMERICAN to coach the U.S. National Team? Would that be possible?
  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    No, I actually botched this name. I think I saw Foudy quoted this week, so that's the person I think of.

    You're right: It was a big deal. It just perplexes me. It seemed to be missing so much of the context that typically presages something like that. No underdog status. No build-up beforehand, at least not mainstream. Nothing. Then, just like that, everyone was going nuts over this team. Remember, we won it in '91, too. No one blinked.

    I mean, to this day, I see lists of most beloved teams of all time in sports and so forth, or greatest moments, and this team makes the list. I think they were SI's Sportsman of the Year. It created - and still creates - a lot of cognitive dissonance for me.
  9. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    It was big for all of the "sociology of sport" reasons that Dick Whitman touched on. There's no way to overstate that. But to me it was big for another reason. I say this not as a journalist seeking to document the world around me, but as someone who has played, coached and refereed soccer: They were legitimately excellent.

    They were dominant, not just because they were faster, stronger and more skilled than anyone else in the world, but because they played with such remarkable cohesion. It's been a long time and it's hard to remember specific plays or examples, but what I do recall was being struck by how well they played together. At times in yesterday's game, it looked like kickball. Even when the U.S. was completely in control and stringing together passes they didn't look like one unit, the way the 1999 team did.

    As a soccer person, that was something that bothered me about the coverage in 1999 ... everyone was so caught up in the sociology-of-sport storyline, and few took the time to appreciate how good that team was at playing soccer. And yes, I know that's because it's women's sports and soccer isn't one of the Big Four. It's not something anyone follows, so that treatment was to be expected. We've all covered stuff we're not familiar with, and in those situations we do our best to find the human interest angle. But my takeaway from 1999 was this: Yes, they were representative of something that transcended sports, but they also kicked ass on the field.
  10. CarltonBanks

    CarltonBanks New Member

    It was all agenda-driven. It was like the whole WNBA marketing drive, where we are supposed to take the league seriously. It is not going to happen, and the 1999 women's World Cup team is never going to be seriously considered as one of the best team in this nation's history, regardless of how often or agressively it is sold.

    Let me make a comparison. There is a drag racing sanctioning body called the ADRL. They made a big splash in the racing world a few years ago because they were packing the stands at every race track they put on an event. It was soon discovered that Kenny Nowling, the ADRL owner, was giving away 100,000 free tickets for every event (the facilities held, maybe, 15,000-25,000). He assumed giving away that many tickets would pretty much guarantee a full house and he would make up revenue on concessions, parking, t-shirts, etc. Great marketing, but in the end the ADRL was not nearly as popular as people initially thought.
    Well, I was told the organizers gave away a ton of tickets for the Women's World Cup in 1999. If you lived anywhere near where a game was played you probably noticed every radio station giving away tickets to the game just about every hour, on the hour. They wanted to make sure there were big crowds, and they accomplished their goal. If everyone would have had to pay for their duckets I doubt the stadiums would have been full.
  11. Deeper_Background

    Deeper_Background Active Member

    It was the cool arm patch. [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    This, and they were as friendly and nice as can be. I covered the early rounds and they were so nice, accessible and easy to deal with that it was almost scary.
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