An Orphan and an ID Clinic

As soccer fans, players, coaches, we ARE a community. Step up, someone needs our help.

Life as a Female Soccer Player

I ran an ID Clinic this past weekend for elite level, female high school soccer players in Toronto, Canada.

With an overflow of parents in attendance there supporting their kids and learning what they needed to do to help them succeed, there was one player, in grade 12, who was different. She was recently orphaned with her Mom’s passing.

Her Dad died when she was 1, and her mom died a few weeks ago.

Despite all of this turmoil, this player played for a good friend of mine and was one of the top players on one of the top youth teams in Canada last year as a grade 11 student. While other kids have parents doing everything for them, this kid worked many hours at a job to be able to survive financially as she was getting little help from her family, all the while being a top level soccer player…

View original post 611 more words

To my LGBTQ friends, colleagues and readers …

Thanks, Beau. In the current political climate this means a lot. As a proud lesbian, it is a scary time. My hope is there are more people like you out there and thanks again for using your voice.

Duresport.com

I’m not going to lie. I grew up with a backwards attitude. Yeah, Athens is a college town, but it’s still in Georgia. At both my rough-and-tumble public school and my vaguely Christian-ish (and generally wonderful) private school, homophobia reigned. “Gay” meant “weak.”

It took me a few years to realize that I knew gay people. Those guys we knew in Savannah who lived together with their bulldogs? Yeah. My relative who only married a woman as a business deal of sorts? Yeah.

In college, I met plenty of people who were out. And my attitude changed.

College will do that to you if you go to the right place. My perceptions on Muslims changed. I had known a couple of Jewish neighbors at home, but now I was seeing observances of all the holidays and learning much more about the religion and the culture. And I met gay people…

View original post 475 more words

Xenophobic?

I’ve been away from this blog for some time, but today I’m forced to write by my utter disgust at the way many people are characterizing Abby Wambach’s questioning of “foreign” players on the USMNT as xenophobic.

If you’re reading this you’re probably aware of her statements concerning dual national players chosen by Klinsmann to play for the USA. Up until recently most players chosen to put on the US jersey have been homegrown, meaning born and raised in the US and within the US development system. Klinsmann has chosen to go outside that system looking for players and as a result has called in many dual national players. In varying degrees these players were born/raised/played for a portion of their lives outside the United States and for other development systems.

Wambach has questioned their motivation and commitment to play for the US. If you look at this from the perspective of someone born and raised in the US, advanced through the US system, and who has worn the US jersey for almost all of her adult life, I think it’s easy to see where her questions come from. But does it qualify as xenophobic? Does Wambach have a fear of these players? I would unequivocally say no. There is absolutely no basis for her to be fearful, nor has she expressed any such fear. Does Wambach hold them in contempt? Again an unequivocal no. She may harbor dislike for Klinsmann and his coaching choices, but she has never expressed dislike for the players involved.

Xenophobia is a serous charge to throw at someone and whether you agree with her word choices in asking the question or not, simply asking someone to discuss their motivation and commitment to play for and represent the USA  does not make them xenophobic.

And today I read something that really is my main motivation to blog. As part of an article on Wambach’s supposed xenophobia it was said that while the writer had no indication that any of Wambach’s comments were racial in nature it couldn’t be dismissed that several of the players in question were of color. And of course it was all contextualized with references to the current election. To conflate Wambach’s comments about dual nationals with this election and the pure hatred that is being put forth by a candidate is irresponsible and just plain inflammatory.

You don’t have to be a fan of Wambach to see that this is just wrong.

If you have a different perspective, let me know in the comments. Respectful discussion is always welcome.

Will I Sit or Will I Stand?

I’ve given a lot of thought to this subject. In fact I’ve been thinking about it since Megan Rapinoe first took a knee during the national anthem on September 4th. And let me tell you, the intersectionality of this is almost endless.

I tried to limit it though because lets face it, I’m one person and to delve into it all would take far more time than I have before events will force me to choose.

I started by deciding if I thought the cause was worthy and that was the easy part. I think the way our country (and that includes me) treats people of color is disgraceful. It’s institutional racism on steroids in many parts of the country and ingrained in almost everyone’s everyday life. In order for the U.S. to continue to be the kind of country I want it to be, this has to be addressed and the hard conversations have to be had. It’s my experience that people don’t like the hard conversations and usually wait until they absolutely have to have them to do it. Rapinoe and Kaepernick are basically not allowing people to ignore the issue by protesting in such a public way. So I’m in as far as that goes.

The next thing I had to decide was if I supported their mode of protest. And I have to say that was also easy for me. Their protest is peaceful and goes to the very heart of what I think the flag represents. I was raised in the era of saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day to start school. I come from a family with a proud military tradition, my grandfather, my father, and I all served in the Army. In the Army there are strict rules as to what your behavior is supposed to be when you’re in proximity of the flag or when you hear the national anthem. But even before I enlisted I was taught that you stand and put your hand over your heart when you say the pledge or hear the anthem. So those traditions* were easy to adjust to the military requirements. And after I left service I continue to stand for the anthem. When I was younger I stood because I was told to and that’s just what you did. As I got older I made a conscious decision to stand for the anthem, to show my respect for a country I served and has served me well. The flag and the anthem represent to me all the people who have served and toiled to make America the country I choose to live in. A country that above all values its freedom and the freedom of its citizens. My grandfather went to battle to preserve those freedoms, my father did too. I served in peacetime, but was prepared to serve in whatever capacity was required. My grandfather often talked of what it was like when the embattled, persecuted and interned were given their freedom. He said it was one of the things he was most proud of. He isn’t with us any longer, but I know he would approve of someone protesting in a peaceful manner to change the lives of our citizens for the better. He always revered the flag, not as a symbol to be bowed to, but as a promise to the people of what could be. He instilled that reverence in me and if someone doesn’t feel that the flag represents them I want to know why and how I can make them feel like it does.

As a gay American I can fully appreciate when Rapinoe said –

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,”

That’s a fact and I do what I can in my life to change that, including protesting against institutions that stand in the way of all my liberties being protected.

A few thoughts I had to process:

  • What’s the difference between kids that walk players out and kneel in front of them during playing of the anthem and a player taking a knee in the sideline. If they were told to stand and one of them didn’t want to, would the outrage be the same?
  • Do these people go around at sporting events and police people who don’t stand or remove their hats or cover their heart?
  • What actual  harm is this protest doing? Are people’s feelings so fragile that they can’t tolerate someone kneeling during a song.
  • Does the freedom of expression extend to stopping someone else from expressing themselves?
  • Who gets to decide which peaceful protests are OK?
  • How many of the people who think Rapinoe and Kaepernick are disrespectful to the flag own an article of clothing made to look like it’s made from a flag? Do they know that’s against the guidelines for how a flag is to be treated?
  • Do these people think the flag represents people of color in America the same way it represents white people? Do they think it means the same thing to them?
  • Do veterans or people who have lost someone in combat think they have more right to define what the flag means?

Like I said, I put a lot of thought into this and I’ve come to a conclusion. I support kneeling during the anthem. My support extends to Rapinoe when she’s wearing the red, white & blue. I’ve come to see exercising freedom of expression in a peaceful manner as a tribute to all those who have given their lives to preserve our freedoms and all those who continue to work hard every day to keep those values alive. I also see her protest while representing the U.S.A. as the ultimate expression to the rest of the world of just how much our freedom means to us. I want people to feel uncomfortable so that they are forced to engage in hard conversations to make our country even better.

As for me, I will stand. I will stand having been influenced by the protest to start, and stop avoiding, the hard conversations.

I encourage everyone to observe the tradition however they are moved to, be it sitting, standing, or kneeling along with Rapinoe and Kaepernick. I also encourage everyone to take note of the protest’s purpose. It would be a disservice to all our fellow citizens if we only exercise outrage at the treatment of a song or a piece of fabric and not actual people who are being mistreated.

What will you do? I welcome your views when presented in a civil manner.

*Playing the anthem at sporting events was started as a fluke and caught on because the country was at war, it wasn’t even the anthem when the tradition started. And it is a tradition,  like getting a hot dog at a ball game. There is no law that the anthem has to be played, in fact a few years after the tradition was started, one baseball team stopped because people had lost interest and didn’t feel as patriotic since the country wasn’t at war any longer and only restarted because the city wanted to promote a local military tourist attraction. I find many people who get exercised by the actions of Rapinoe and Kaepernick don’t even know that.

Dele Alli, Stephanie Roche – and the fragile English male ego?

It is not enough to just document ideas, they have to be refuted like @DasGherkin’s done. What has been bred in can be bred out.

Here is blog

There was much social media glee about Dele Alli’s goal for Tottenham today.

@DasGherkin noted its similarity to another famous goal – one nominated for last year’s Puskas award.

The responses she received – mostly from English men, it has to be said – were appalling but perhaps not surprising to those steeped in the culture and history of English football.

Football in England has historically been perceived as for men. Men play it. Men watch it. The women who have played it have been written out of history (there are multiple histories of the English game with a gigantic gap during the World War One years, when women’s teams drew tens of thousands to grounds); the women who have watched it have been written…

View original post 954 more words

What’s In A Name

What IS in a name? And what’s behind it?

Her Story Sports

Cat Osterman on the mound for the USSSA Pride during the 2014 NPF season Cat Osterman on the mound for the USSSA Pride during the 2014 NPF season.

With the announcement of two new women’s franchises in this, it may seem a little cantankerous to find fault in the name of one of the new teams.  Critics may even say that type of thinking is missing the broader picture. Well, those people are wrong, at least in part.

It’s true, 2015 has been the year of women’s sports. (Hell yeah!) Between the U.S. Women’s National Team winning the World Cup and in the process much deserved recognition, Serena Williams’ awe-inspiring, albeit failed, attempt at a Grand Slam, and other well-publicized moments, there’s been a lot of reasons for women’s sports advocates to be optimistic about this year.

Just because the needle is moving in the right direction that doesn’t mean that fans should unequivocally accept the decisions made by women’s sports teams, leagues, organizations…

View original post 1,024 more words

Expansion 2016…

With the recently announced press release that the NWSL waiver process has been pushed back, it would seem that an expansion to Orlando is about a 99% certainty. I hold back the one percent since they didn’t include Orlando in the waiver process, but I think it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

I think the league is missing a great opportunity, and one they may not get again soon. The opportunity I speak of is a time to breathe, learn from the first three years and their first expansion, and have a clear plan for what the next 3 years will look like.

The league did some things well during the first three years, but there is much room for improvement, and expansion so soon leaves them no real time to do that. Expansion right now is not a necessity. If Orlando is keen to get in, they will still be keen in a year. There is no other pro league to become a part of, no other place for them to join.

Expansion in 2016 will just be another year of instability for players who already are leaving the league because they cannot continue to pull up stakes every year and move to a new team on the same meager salary. Why put the very commodity that the league absolutely needs to survive under that pressure again? And probably again in 2017?

It will also be a year interrupted by another big international tournament, the Olympics. Scheduling of 20 games was hard enough with a break for the World Cup in 2015, why add a team and make it more so? Expansion is likely for 2017 even if Orlando does come in in 2016, why not wait until 2017 when  better planning and a non-World Cup/Olympics schedule will be easier to manage?

Many arguments for expansion are based on being able to get a better TV deal with 10 teams, a balanced schedule and more MLS ownership. I really don’t buy that. If the survival of the league for 2016 is based on a TV deal, the league is in more dire straits than the most pessimistic of fans could imagine. And I just don’t get the feeling that’s the case. A good TV deal would be great, but one team added to the league isn’t going to be the tipping point.

The league needs to fix the things that didn’t work in 2015. Simple things like more team merchandise being available, for all teams. Match day experiences that cater to kids AND adults, less bouncy house and more adult beverages. More complex things like better venues, consistent streams across the league and communication with fans that really is more transparent. How about a year to work on getting some meaningful league sponsorships? Even NWSL can’t live on Nike alone. Maybe more important than any of these things is a raised salary cap that allows the lowest tier of players to make a living wage for the length of their contract. A single expansion team only means jobs for 20 more players, over half who will not make a living wage. If waiting a year can increase that to 60 players making a living wage, why not wait?

And at some point the league season will have to be longer, with an additional year to allow players and teams a chance to figure out how it will work in relation to player contracts, salaries and the need for a job outside soccer to survive for most players, maybe a mass exodus won’t occur when that happens. An additional year would also allow US Soccer to decide how they are going to treat the NT player pool, either by expanding to allow more players to be allocated or a lump sum payment to the league. These are things that should not be worked out on the fly. They affect players directly and should be settled. Many have called for a player’s union to be established and I have said it’s too soon, but if the league has no regard for how their expansion affects players, I would have to side with the players and say sooner is better.

A year without expansion would allow all these things to be worked on without the added pressure of a big change in player personnel, scheduling and having to do it on the fly. Imagine bringing in 3 teams in 2017 with a plan and a standard set they would have to meet in all the things that need improvement. Not only would the new teams have to be up to standard, the existing teams would have another year to meet it or be gone, or sanctioned. Don’t have a field devoid of 15 other sports markings? Work it out with your current venue or move to a new one..you’ve got a year to figure it out or you’re out/sanctioned. Can’t serve adult beverages? Work it out with your venue or move to a new one..you’ve got a year to figure it out or you’re out/sanctioned. Don’t have a reliable HD stream (since that is NWSL standard)? Work it out..you’ve got a year to figure it out or you’re out/sanctioned. The answer to all these things has nothing to do with expansion, but everything to do with being able to devote your existing resources to fixing them.

I know this is all just so much spitting into the wind on my part, but I haven’t really seen anyone WoSo related address this. Expansion is not bad, it’s just not always the answer to what’s wrong. I would love to see someone in the WoSo realm play devil’s advocate to the pro-expansion love-fest going on. It’s easy to ask for the league to fix things, it seems a little harder for people to give them a space to do it. Maybe the league has this all figured out..and maybe I will win the lottery, but both are pretty far-fetched.

If any WoSo journo out there has taken on the no expansion side. I’d be all eyes on a link in the comments.