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LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN America, we cried in our alphabet (s-o-c-c-e-r) soup when the U.S. women's soccer team won its second World Cup last summer.

It was a marvelous happening) but let's face it: It wasn't exactly an upset and it didn't change the world--as claimed in the recently published book, The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How It Changed the World.

The book sets Out to prove that our golden girls did more for civilization than Madame Curie, Cinderella, and Sonja Henie and that they were a topic of conversation all over the world.

Maybe the victory was discussed by millions, but we doubt whether "It changed the way we view female athletes and, by extension, all women."

That's hyperbole. The world doesn't change that easy and never because of a victory in a sport.

Another thing that the American victory never did was change the players' "conflicting emotions and behavior regarding the double standard in sports that men need only be athletic, women must be athletic and beautiful."

Good lord! We had thought that such stupefying nonsense had gone down with the Lusitania. Who says that our women athletes have to be beautiful? Name one sport (other than go-go dancing) that demands beauty of its participants? Basketball? Never. Softball? Never. Lacrosse? Never. Tennis? Never. Golf? Never.

Sure, the press likes to make a fuss over a pretty face, but beauty has never been a prerequisite for making a team. And we have never heard a female athlete complain that she failed to make the team because the coach didn't think she was beautiful enough.

To a coach--male or female--there is only one rigid criterion for an athlete: Can you play?

There has never been a coach in history who would have looked at Babe Didriksen and said: "Sorry, kid, you're not good-lookin' enough to make the team." They'd all think she was beautiful.

One of the truly great things about the word "athlete" is that it has no gender.
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Title Annotation:U.S. women's soccer team and women athletes
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
Words:333
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