I remember Brandi Chastain ripping off her shirt. So do you. So does everybody. That powerslide was more than just iconic. It was a still image of what it feels like to win.
That moment made me want to do crunches. It made me want to take PKs. It made me love winning even more than I already did. It made me so happy that I was an athlete, where people love you for being something better than pretty.
In winning that World Cup, the ’99ers set the pace, but it hasn’t changed.
The USWNT expects to win every time they step on the pitch. Can you imagine the audacity?
Meanwhile, the competition and parity in women’s soccer keeps getting better, but more often than not, the USWNT still finds a way to separate themselves from the rest of the world. It’s a hunger. They’re bloodthirsty.
This particular team, for example, decided that even in a year where they’d be defending their World Cup title, they’d file a gender discrimination suit against their employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, in pursuit of equal pay and conditions. You could argue that they should have focused on winning the World Cup, and that next year would have been a better time to take up this fight, but let’s be real. There’s never a convenient time to fight for yourself. But you have to do it anyway.
And it wasn’t just the outspoken captains like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan who have already earned their stars and stripes; all 23 players on the roster joined the lawsuit. Because fighting is the culture of this team. It’s not that they don’t give a fuck. It’s that they give all their fucks all the time.
It’s not that I’m a front-runner; I just love seeing people shine when the pressure’s on. I love seeing these women perform at the highest level—winning every game, setting records along the way—especially when they’re being trolled and belittled and disrespected in the media, in their paychecks, and by idiots who live on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The USWNT is filled with characters I want to write stories about. A crop of unapologetic tomboys who don’t try to conceal their personalities, sexualities, or confidence. They play hard. They celebrate however they want to celebrate.
And will all the puritanical dullards please stop telling women how to celebrate tastefully. Because, you know what? Tasteful doesn’t wear four fucking stars on its jersey.