In today's Last Call, I'd like to shine some light on the world's game and it's newest world champion, the United States women's national soccer team.
The US won it's third world cup (a new world record) two weeks ago while putting a beat down on Japan, 5-2.
The victory was impressive, yet somewhat surprising to me. Four years ago, this Japan team took the US to penalty kicks and beat the Americans. This time around, the game was over within the first 15 minutes, thanks to the heroics of Carli Lloyd.
Don't get me wrong, I am just as excited about the win as anyone else. To me, this helps symbolize that America is catching up to the rest of the world in terms of celebrating the world's game.
However, as an avid soccer fan, I still just feel this negative stigma amongst many sports fans that soccer isn't really the US's game.
Perhaps its because most of my friends celebrate the colossal giant that the NFL has become before anything, but to me, the biggest problem is how the men's team isn't as competitive as the women's squad.
US women's soccer is quickly becoming the nation's favorite women's sport. But at what cost is this coming at?
In a recent article from ESPN Five ThirtEight's Benjamin Morris, "Why Is The U.S. So Good At Women's Soccer?" Morris talks about how the U.S. has climbed the world ranks in women's soccer at an astronomical rate.
I love reading these types articles, but this one struck me wrong.
Two things that I felt were poorly portrayed in this article were it's two graphs that show the percentage of high school female athletes playing each sport and the numbers of high school female athletes playing each sport.
The first thing that stood out to me, was the percentage of each high school athlete playing each sport.
In the 80s, basketball dominated the high school scene. For the most part, each sport has slightly increased and decreased without too much shocking drop/accension since then.
Basketball isn't as popular anymore (according to the graph), but each sport has relatively evened out.
Soccer has easily sky-rocketed the most. From zero percent to just under twenty percent of female athletes playing soccer. Each major sport (soccer, baseball/softball, volleyball and basketball) hovers around eighteen to twenty two percent. Basketball being the highest, and field hockey being the smallest at four percent.
To me, the issue I am seeing, is that I feel like this graph lacks the mention of women playing multiple sports. What concerns me, is the lack of diversity and the drop-off of multiple sport athletes.
Ultimately, this issue is something I'd rather address at a later time. There's just too much that I could talk about with the lack of diversity amongst high school athletes any more.
The second issue in this article, is something that is increasingly becoming a problem for college universities.
In the article, Morris states "In the NCAA, 53 percent of soccer players are female, including 61 percent of those in Division I."
I'm sorry, but isn't the purpose of Title IX to even the playing field for college athletes?
At all three of the Iowa state universities, not one athletics department has a men's soccer program. Only Iowa has a baseball program, but all three of these schools have softball and women's soccer. See what I'm getting at?
In Morris' article, it talks about how through Title IX the U.S. has become a monster in women's sports, specifically soccer, because of the equal rights we've given women collegiate athletes.
Don't interpret this blog as anything saying that I want to cut back on the even playing field for women's athletics. That is the LAST thing I am saying.
I'm am just pointing out that Title IX isn't helping the men's athletics become more diverse and competitive on the national level.
Which all comes back to the idea that athletes aren't being as well-rounded in high school, because the only sports that they can get scholarships for, are football and basketball.
I LOVE that that the U.S. is so dominate in women's soccer. I LOVE the patriotism that is being shown across the nation because of it.
I am not a fan of how our men's team cannot be a part of this success, because men's soccer isn't being given the equal opportunity as the women's.
Through Title IX, it is preventing schools from being able to fund more diverse athletic departments because too much money is being given to football and basketball programs.
My suggestion is this: why not even the playing field by saying that for every softball scholarship, there must be an equal baseball one?
At this point you are probably going to say that football and volleyball cannot be possibly be given equal money.
My counter argument: why not make the football program take each extra scholarship dollar that it is given, and force them to fund the other departments with better facilities and other expenses?
Football teams already bring in so much money from TV contracts and ticket sales, that this isn't going to be a problem.
I understand that a lot of what pays employees and other funds do already come from the bigger programs such as football and baketball, but these are growing businesses that people are going to continue to see.
I'm also aware of the fact that not every athletic department can afford to have an equal amount of sports for every man and woman, but I still seem to think that it is unfair to have universities with eight women's programs compared to four men's.
At the time that Title IX was enacted, it needed to be done. The ruling was an important stride in seeing that women's sports were created and funded but it has reached the point of hurting other opportunities.
Like I have said, I am thrilled to see the women's national team win the world cup. It is the only sport that truly has a world championship that everyone has a shot at.
It is amazing to think that the U.S. women's team has won more than any other country in the world, but the idea that this has been created through equal opportunities is false.
Again, I'd like to see your comments and if you have any questions please feel free to ask!
As always, please send in any suggestions that you would like to see! With summer sports coming to an end, we're going to need some material to cover going into fall. Let us know!
p.s. Here is a link to the story in which I am referring to: http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/why-is-the-u-s-so-good-at-womens-soccer/