That Age Old Argument

 

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”

- Satchel Paige

Too old, washed up, over the hill, not needed, redundant, put out to pasture, past their prime.. all terms used at one time or another to describe people thought not able to do the job anymore, simply because of a number.

Hi, My name is Diane, I’m 58. That is my chronological age, the number of years I have been on this earth. I am also 48, my biological age, the physical condition of my body. I’m also 69, my psychological age, measuring experience, logic, and emotions. Put them all together and you get my functional age, the actual me that moves through space and time in the world. Too often people just look at someones chronological age and stop there. It’s understandable, industrial societies measure productivity in terms of time – the amount a worker can produce over a given amount of chronological time.

In sports it’s a little different. What is produced by an athlete (worker) is not as easily measured like widget output from a factory. Sure there are stats, but stats only tell one part of the story, as fans everywhere will argue. When considering athletes’ productivity, especially in team sports, you also have to take into account functional age. The entire package. The combination of the chronological, biological, and psychological age. An athlete may well be considered old in relation to the chronological age of their teammates, but athletes by virtue of the excellent care they take of their bodies are younger biologically than chronological age would suggest. Many athletes have been known to play at a high level when their chronological age was past what most would consider too old.

Which brings me to psychological age. An athlete of sufficient psychological age will bring to bear all the experience gained, logic learned, and emotions lived over their chronological years of playing to get the most out of the biological body they possess. This would mean that their physical preparation might look different from other teammates, but it also might mean that their psychological age contributes to the productivity of the team in other ways not as easily measured. They’ve most likely “been there, done that” in every way from struggling to make the team to suffering and coming back from injury to playing on the biggest stage to almost – but not quite –  grabbing the brass ring. Having a teammate that can share those experiences and what worked, or didn’t, and how they handled it is immeasurable, especially to less experienced teammates.

And that is why I have such a problem with people who discount an athlete simply because their chronological age is past what is considered the norm to compete at a certain level in sport. A huge disservice is done to those athletes who are able to manage all the variables and still produce at the highest level of a sport. It’s not all that long ago that it was thought impossible for a woman to return to a sport at the highest level after childbirth, athletes in many sports are proving that’s not the case. Dismissing an athlete simply based on a number is just as foolish.

I’m not saying that at some point an athlete might not lose the physical capability to compete at a certain level, but that capability should not be measured simply by chronological age. More and more frequently players in their mid-teens are being lauded for their accomplishments, is it because they have accomplished something or simply because they are of a certain chronological age?

Some days my 58 year old self wants to tell my 48 year old self to kick the asses of these ageists, but my 69 year old self prevails and I simply write a blog instead.

P.S. Yes, this blog is about Abby Wambach (to a lesser degree Christie Rampone/Shannon Boxx/fill in your least favorite player over 30) and her detractors that think it’s time for her to hang up her boots and cite her chronological age, ad nauseam. On a larger scale it’s about people that don’t consider all the variables when writing a human being off, whether in sport, at work, or life in general. Everyone has value and brings different things to the table. Some tangible, some not, but valuable just the same.


One man’s perspective on Hope Solo

Diane:

Not your typical male perspective.

Originally posted on ALDENTHREE:

“They’re all lesbians.”

“She’s smoking hot.”

“The quality is terrible.”

“She looks like a man.”

There’s your stereotypical male perspective of female athletes.  The majority of my interactions with other men about women’s sports have revolved around some variation of those four quotes above. Most of my interactions with other men about men’s sports are analyzing the actual game.  Our society does not show enough respect for female athletes. Here lies the foundation of my frustrations in the most recent Hope Solo incident.

These perspectives are incredibly damaging to the psyche of female athletes.  If you’re a man and this is the commentary you have to offer the women’s game, please stop. No, seriously.  Enough. But let me get to the topic at hand… Hope Solo.

U.S. Soccer has suspended Solo for 30 days. It has been reported Solo’s husband was arrested for driving while intoxicated and Solo was a passenger in the vehicle. Solo’s husband…

View original 542 more words

An Open Letter to New NWSL Executive Director Jeff Plush

Dear Mr. Plush,

Welcome aboard.

I’ll be the first to admit I am wary of your selection. Probably a wariness borne of failed leagues and less than transparent processes, but wary none the less. It certainly doesn’t help that we (fans) found out you were even necessary by way of an errant job posting by the NCAA. See? Wary. There are many other instances over the first two years of the league and this is but one example of the lack of transparency we are tiring of quickly.

I would like to be less wary, and I would like you to have a big part in that. Your business credentials are more than up to snuff for the position of league commissioner, my concern lies in your lack of involvement up to this point with women’s soccer specifically.  I live in Colorado and therefore am familiar with your time at the Colorado Rapids organization. I am also not aware of any dealings you have had in connection with the women’s USL W-League team that held the Rapid’s name during that time. If there was any, I ( and many others) would like to know what that might have been. It seems an opportunity was there for you to be involved and yet, you weren’t. And now you want to run our league. See? Still wary.

I appreciate the fact that you were integral in growing MLS, but the women’s league is not MLS or MLS-lite and is in fact different in many ways. The women’s game hasn’t yet been tainted by big money and all the baggage that brings. That’s not to say that someday we wouldn’t like to see players earn a living wage and view playing professional soccer as a viable occupation. We’d like to have games televised as often as possible and sell out venues and have merchandise readily available. We’d like to have budgets and rosters that allow for the best in the women’s game to play here and thrive. We’d like all of that and more, but none of that is worth anything if we sacrifice our integrity or the things that make the women’s game special.

And now I guess that’s your job, you and the owners. Grow our game and our league into a viable, sustainable, entertaining, product that attracts kids and adults in equal measure, a league that values its integrity in all dealings, a league that is transparent and accessible, to fans and media and business.

Personally, I challenge you to make me (and those like me) less wary. I challenge you to make the changes and goings on more transparent, much more transparent. I challenge you to be first to make the announcement when a rule changes or a determination has been made. I challenge you to not make the league MLS-lite. I challenge you to keep those things that are so enjoyable about the women’s game enjoyable. Access to players is one of the special parts of the league and I’m sure it doesn’t have to be sacrificed as the league attendance grows. I challenge you to do all of this and more because that’s what the game deserves. I challenge you to make me your fan..which might be your biggest challenge of all.

As Red Green is fond of saying,

 “Remember, I’m pulling for ya, we’re all in this together”

Thanks for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

Always a fan,

Diane.

4 Reasons Why The Gap Is Narrowing (Between North America and the Rest of the World) in Women’s Soccer

Diane:

Some insight from someone who knows because she lives it.

Originally posted on Life as a Female Soccer Player:

So it’s been a long time since I’ve written.

It coincided with my foot in a cast, and I’m hoping this blog isn’t going to look like me trying to do my first workout after getting my leg back out of the cast (yes, I had to cut out after 4 air squats).

But just like I threw myself back into physical activity by just starting to move, here I am back on the blog scene just going to ramble some thoughts that have been kicking around tonight.

I just saw that the US tied Brazil in the lead up to the World Cup today. And with the result, my twitter feed blew up lamenting the direction of youth soccer and development in the US and how the immense numbers and resources that the US has in women’s soccer, as compared to the rest of the world, isn’t being utilized.

View original 1,320 more words

We’re Number 2! We’re Number 2!

Back in the day (like 1962 back in the day), before most of you were born, there was a company named Avis, that rented cars. Now in most areas of business there are competitors, meaning there is always a company ranked number one and a company ranked number 2 and Avis was ranked number 2. They were ranked number 2 for so long they adapted this their advertising slogan:

When you’re only No. 2, you try harder, or else.

 

How fitting is that for the current U.S. Women’s National Team? After all, they have the perfect poster child, no one works harder than Carli Lloyd! Her current form certainly bears that out.

As a motivating philosophy, you have to admit it’s got a lot going for it. Who doesn’t want to be seen as the underdog, fighting to gain the top spot? It accomplishes two things; first it motivates the players & coaches to actually, you know, try harder. That could mean train harder, study more, explore new formations/tactics/lineups, take chances. Second it gives a cushion for expectations from fans and pundits should all of this trying harder not produce immediate results.

I won’t say the USWNT is stagnant, but the growth everyone was told to expect has been slow in coming. Maybe this being number 2 thing will speed up the process, both by players and coaches.

Hey, even if it doesn’t I’m sure we’ll get lots of shitty jokes out of it.

 

So Much #WoSo

Yikes, when it rains it pours!

Lots of WoSo thoughts, so I’ll just put them out here randomly, you can decide their importance

  • Lori Chalupny back in the USWNT mix!! Can’t say how overdue or how excited I am to see if she’s still got it at NT level (my opinion is YES she does!)
  • NCAA semi’s!! Good as it get in US soccer this time of year. 4 teams, all worthy. Can’t wait to see who comes out the winner. My choice, UCLA,  has been eliminated, so I’ll just be happy for whoever wins.
  • FIFA’s Vackle is an ass. He is clueless when it comes to talking to/about women and has no understanding of the reason for the turf v grass debate.
  • No matter who makes the USWNT roster there will always be someone who wants to pick at it. Can’t we just take a day to celebrate those players who have made it before the conversation deteriorates into who should have made it and who is unworthy? Please?
  • Brazil is a seeded team for WWC 2015? Seriously? Ease of draw shouldn’t be a consideration.
  • Jill Ellis has far more of a clue than most anyone wants to give her credit for. Just because everyone’s favorite players aren’t in the mix doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a vision for the team. Might not agree with yours, but then whose would?
  • Student-athletes who garner academic honors are rock stars! They must be the masters of time-management.
  • It’s 2014, when are men in power going to understand that it does nothing to serve you to be condescending to women. Nothing. Yes, I’m still talking about Vackle.
  • WoSo gives me life.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to contribute in the comments.

 

 

Cheer the **** Up WoSo

Negative stuff yanks my chain and when it’s primarily about WoSo and all its woes it yanks harder.

Are thinks wrong with WoSo worldwide? You betcha!
Is whining about it going to change anything? Not on your life!

I ask fans/pundits to take a step back and consider that even articles written that don’t go into hard-hitting facts about the game also have some benefit. The adage goes something like “any publicity is good publicity”. I’d love to see more articles that delve into the inner workings of teams and tactics and coaching decisions, and that’s improving, but we’re still going to see our share of the fluff stuff. Players in scanty clothes (or none at all), articles about “Soccer Moms”, and all the other things they never write about the men will still be published ad nauseum. It may not shed the best light on the sport we all love, but it gets and keeps eyes on the sport.

If you don’t like all the “fluff” then I suggest you seek out the hard stuff and promote that, promote it so much that it starts to drown out the fluff. It’s a fine line we all walk trying to promote a sport we want to see succeed and supporting sites we want to see fulfill their potential while filtering out the stuff we cringe at, but it’s a path we must walk if we want to see the good stuff flourish.

So as you stroll down that bumpy path, I ask that you keep a smile on your face and good intentions in your heart, because if I see one more whiny post about how crappy things are I might just hurt a kitten!