3 Reasons Why Everybody Should Be Watching the Women’s World Cup Right Now
Watching the games is fun and relaxing, and the US Women’s Team needs your attention in their fight for pay equality.
This is an important time to be paying attention to women’s soccer, even if you think you don’t like soccer. Here are 3 reasons why you should be watching right now:
1. They are exciting and fun to watch
I did not grow up in a sporting family: there were never any sports games on the TV or radio in our home growing up, and I did not play sports with any enthusiasm as a youth. But as a college student studying in Europe and later as a volunteer in Guatemala, I was bitten by the international soccer bug — as a spectator.
Whether it was in brassy, roaring pubs in Dublin with crowds spilling into the streets, or huddled around small living room TVs under tin roofs in rural Central America, there was the same love for the same game. In both places, “the beautiful game” was an appreciative audience sharing something global, a sport that is beloved around the entire world, a welcoming community to join.
To this day, my favorite place to watch the games is still in a dedicated soccer pub, surrounded by eager and enthusiastic fans wearing their country’s colors, enjoying the thrill of the entire bar screaming together after that one longingly awaited goal happens.
It is that longing wait that I believe was my first insight into meditation, which is both oddly frustrating and calming, learned from watching soccer games.
2. It’s actually kind of meditative
Unlike most televised sports games in the US, soccer games allow for two full periods of 45 minutes of consecutive play, uninterrupted by commercials. There are usually only brief stops for fouls, penalties, and injuries, and the clock keeps running.
While you watch these games, you can’t be anywhere but in the present. If you take your eyes away from the screen for even a minute to check your phone, you could miss a game-changing play or a particularly gorgeous turn of foot.
And unlike a game like basketball where the scores change fast and furiously, you could find yourself glued to the screen for 90 minutes with not a single goal on either side, and the game can end in a draw with no winner.
Much like meditation, there is a patient steadfastness to watching these games, which might never result in the culmination of satisfaction. Sometimes there are no neat endings. It’s one of those rare occasions in today’s world when we can achieve undivided concentration, and when the game is over, my brain feels a little better for having watched it.
3. It supports a good cause
The excitement and meditative quality can be found in all soccer games, but the best games are found in women’s soccer. These women play for the absolute love of their sport — we can be certain about that because they’re not getting paid the big bucks for it like the men are. Their clear passion for the sport makes the games more enjoyable to watch: I find on the field there seems to be better sportsmanship among the women, fewer fake injuries and less egregious foul play. They are also fit and healthy, graceful and ferocious, talented and beautiful: a pure joy to watch in action.
This year in particular, the FIFA Women’s World Cup — which is ongoing right now — is more exciting than ever to watch here in the US. We can add the fervor of home team pride to the mix: the US Women’s team is outstanding.
They have won 3 out of 9 World Cup championships. They are highly favored to win this year’s. In their first game, they took 13 goals: more than all the goals the Men’s Team took in all World Cup games since 2006 combined. The US Women’s Team are the defending Women’s World Cup champions; the US Men’s Team did not even qualify for the next World Cup, so the United States will be missing in action from the next tournament.
And that is exactly why the US Women’s Team needs our support — and right now. Because for all their successes, the women are paid 38 cents on the dollar that the men get paid. And they’re tired of it. The team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, who is currently arguing that the women are paid differently for different work. The women’s team plays more games, scores more goals, earns more wins, and generates more revenue, but according to the federation they should be paid less for it. And it’s not just pay — the federation allocates them less comfortable travel arrangements, and even a smaller food stipend. It’s nonsensical.
Our attention now could support their lawsuit, by proving their point with a successful season: that they are being paid less for better work. A successful lawsuit will support not only aspiring young female soccer players, but all women in their fights for equal pay, as a clear-cut case study.
So watch their games. Know their names. Follow the players on social media. Check out their merch. Improve their stats. Each goal they take, each minute we watch, each jersey we buy, strengthens their case, and all of our cases as women against wage discrimination.
And that’s why you’re going to see me in a crowded soccer pub on Friday, watching the US Women’s Team with joy as they play against France, the host country. I’ll be cheering on Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, and all our stars on the field.
It’s going to be a great game, fun and relaxing. Who’s going to watch it with me?