Thoughts on the Women’s World Cup - Shades of Brandi Chastain

Tobin Heath celebrates her second half goal in the U.S.A's World Cup Final victory. (photo by Kevin C. Cox)

By Kate McGuire

Back in 1999, not many American viewers were watching the Women’s World Cup. Sure, everyone claims to have seen the infamous penalty kick by Brandi Chastain (and her subsequent shirtless celebration), but how many people watched the semifinal match in ’99? Not many.

I remember I had to invite a guy friend, who liked sports but not particularly soccer, over to my house to watch it with me. And just the fact that Mia Hamm was playing wasn’t enough. I had to add in the incentive of food and drink to actually get him over.

Flash-forward to 2015 and the huge crowds ESPN was showing in Chicago and Kansas City and countless other soccer crazed cities across America. Apparently more than 26 million watched over the course of the tournament. With every win along the way leading to Sunday’s exciting 5-2 U.S. win over Japan, I kept reminding my friends: don’t forget to watch Women’s World Cup!

Just weeks before, my little group of “sportees” had zeroed in on the Golden State Warriors games that kept us all on the edges of our seats. After that experience, I kept trying to pump them up for the World Cup and by the end of the game yesterday, those that had never watched women’s soccer before were glued to the game.

The last time the U.S. women won the World Cup, a joyous Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey—to the shock (gasp) of viewers—to celebrate in her black sports bra! There she was, kneeling and then parading her bare, sweat-soaked midriff around the field! Oh, the horror! It was talked about in the media for weeks, can you imagine?

This time, at the end of the game, everyone kept their shirts on, but there was still some notable PDA for soccer fans to appreciate. Abby Wambach, the teams veteran star, celebrated her long awaited victory by kissing her wife on live TV. Wambach married her partner in Hawaii in 2013, but of course, now women like her can tie the knot in any state they please. The USA wins, love wins, soccer wins. See you in France in 2019...

Abby Wambach kisses her wife following the the World Cup Final vs. Japan (photo by Kevin C. Cox)