Why This Year Proved to be the Best for Women in Sports
Saturday, August 29, 2015
There’s American Soccer, then there’s American Men’s Soccer
Female athletes are no strangers to jokes. Hell, soccer in the U.S. is no stranger to mockery either. I could fill this page with hyperlinks solely from nightly talk show monologues about it. That doesn’t change the fact the World Cup Champs unequivocally play better soccer than the men and are way, way more entertaining to watch (let’s just say that the Pacific Northwest is light years ahead of everyone else on this given the outstanding crowds male and female soccer teams play for there). Several of the gold medalists play right in our backyards: Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe for the Seattle Reign FC and the Portland Thorns FC have Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan. Teammates like Sydney Leroux go to the press to ask why women are given less money and crappy turf fields to play on, and people pay attention. And your daughters live in a world where Abby Wambach can celebrate with a hug and kiss from her wife. And Carli Lloyd is now a household name because her hybrid Odell/David Beckham moves. Though I still adore Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain, the women I got to look up to, everyone still remembers the sports bra of all things.
The athletic prowess this woman possesses is extraterrestrial. Williams is 33, and since she turned pro just two days shy of her 14th birthday, that means she’s about to celebrate 20 years in the big leagues. Ranking in July 2002: No. 1. Ranking today: No. 1. Poised to top Steffi Graf as the GOAT in women’s tennis (and arguably the entire sport), Serena’s presence dictated a higher standard of play for all other tennis pros. She’s a wonderful example of how you don’t have to fit the hetero-normative standard for beauty in this country to be a marketable athlete (which has impacted features in ‘The Body Issue’ and changed modeling for the better), despite taking heat from internet trolls. Instead, she teaches girls to be fearless in their endeavors and let the negativity roll off their shoulders. Plus, JK Rowling has her back. Does anybody really talk about Anna Kournikova anymore? Just saying.
Women in the NFL
Jen Welter became the first known female coach in the NFL this summer. Granted it’s an internship-style position and probably not as important as Becky Hammon’s role with the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, but football is the meatiest of meathead sports. Unlike basketball, girls don’t often grow up throwing around the pigskin (what, were we supposed to have aspirations of joining the Lingerie Football League? No thanks). And you know who Welter was photographed with not that long ago? Sarah Thomas, the first female NFL referee. It’s true people; it only took until 2015 to realize that women have eyes and can see things happen too! In all seriousness, they’ve cracked the glass ceiling and that young women and girls can at least entertain the idea of pursuing such a career makes the athletic world a better place.
I can understand why parents might not really want their daughters watching UFC fights, but they certainly can’t deny her wit, tact, class and advocacy even if it comes from a gal who makes a living knocking other ladies’ lights out. I grew up during the ‘heroin chic’ phenomenon, which proved to be devastating to the self-esteem of young women and adolescents everywhere. Ronda makes strength, muscle and health cool. She may not know it, but merely existing may help save girls everywhere from the “sweat til’ you’re a stick’ exercise culture that’s hopefully waned. She is also the most important public figure to stand up and call out Floyd Mayweather for his misogynistic and abusive behavior rather than passively accepting it as so many have done with shoulder shrugs.
There’s still progress to be made; there’s always progress to be made. But how exciting it must be to be a girl growing up with so much female positivity, on the right side of history. Let’s hope the momentum propels these future athletes into a world of equal pay (or at the very least, some real grass on their fields).
Related Slideshow: 20 Things To Watch For In Sports This Fall
Here are GoLocalPDX's 20 things to watch for in sports this Fall.
How will the Ducks fair without Mariota?
The Ducks have been extremely fortunate to have had one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football leading their offense over the past few seasons. But with him now in the NFL there will undoubtedly be an adjustment period. Can the Ducks overcome losing the reigning Heisman trophy winner? Only time will tell.
Will the Beavers finally be able to step out of the Ducks’ shadow?
Over the past few seasons the Beavers have been commonly referred to as the Oregon Ducks’ “little brother.” It’s been close to 8 years since the Beavers last defeated Oregon in the Civil War, and it’s been even longer since they’ve had the type of success the Ducks have recently experienced. Although this year’s Civil War will be played in Eugene there’s still a chance that they could pull off an upset over the Ducks.
Will the Ducks’ receiving core live up to expectations?
This year’s receiving core is deep, fast and tall. There’s no doubt that the Duck’s receivers could give almost any team’s secondary headaches if they can put it all together on the field. If Devon Allen and Bralon Addison come back healthy, and Darren Carrington decides to stop smoking marijuana before big games, the sky’s the limit for the Ducks’ offense.
Who will take more snaps between Jeff Lockie and Vernon Adams?
One of Oregon’s most prized offseason acquisitions is Vernon Adams Jr. Although he hasn’t been around the team as much as Jeff Lockie has it’s still possible that he wins the starting quarterback position. Both quarterbacks have pros and cons when it comes to starting. The only difference is that Oregon’s coaching staff knows what Lockie’s pros and cons are while they have almost no idea what Adams’ are. We’ll have to trust Mark Helfrich when it comes to who starts on September 5th.
Photo via Vernon Adams Facebook page (image cropped)
Who will take the scoring load with Joseph Young now in the NBA?
Joseph Young was an offensive force last season for the Ducks’ basketball team. He not only led the team in scoring, he also won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award. He had a tendency to come up with big plays just when his team needed them the most. With him now in the NBA the team desperately needs someone to step up and take over where Young left off.
Will Russell Wilson and the Seahawks agree to a new contract before the start of the regular season?
One of the Seahawks’ biggest question marks is whether or not they will be able to agree on a new contract with Russell Wilson. Wilson has led the team to 2 Super Bowl appearances and apparently wants to be one of the highest paid players in the NFL. The only issue is that the Seahawks don’t want to fork up that kind of cash. If this remains unsettled heading into the regular season it could provide plenty of distractions for the team.
Can the Seahawks move past their Super Bowl blunder?
Obviously the Seahawks’ last play of the Super Bowl didn’t turn out the way that they would’ve liked. The bigger issue is the fact that losing a game of that magnitude can have lingering affects on a team. Will the Seahawks let that loss affect them this season, or will they use it as motivation moving forward?
How will Jimmy Graham fit in with the Seahawks’ offense?
One of the Seahawks’ biggest offseason acquisitions was Jimmy Graham. Seattle brought in the former Saint to help Russell Wilson and the rest of the receiving corps this upcoming season. It’s no secret that the receiving core was one of the team’s weaknesses last year, so hopefully the addition of Graham will help the team make it back to the Super Bowl.
Photo via Jimmy Graham Twitter page (image cropped)
Will Marshawn Lynch begin slowing down?
Running backs have a tendency to break down rather quickly in the NFL. It’s rare that you see a running back continuing to be effective well into their 30’s. With Lynch recently signing a new contract Seattle must believe that he can be effective for the next 2-3 years. By the time his contract expires he will be 32.
Will Damian Lillard be able to lead a young Blazer team?
This was one of the most stressful off-seasons that the Blazers have endured in quite some time. After not knowing LaMarcus Aldridge’s intentions for the past few years he finally made the decision to leave Portland and join the Spurs in San Antonio. With Aldridge officially gone it’s now up to Damian Lillard to lead this young team.
Who will Damian Lillard’s sidekick be?
With Damian Lillard being the lone starter who has seen playoff action he will desperately need someone else to step up. Will it be C.J. McCollum? Meyers Leonard? Or maybe one of the newcomers? If this team wants to experience any type of success this season they need a sidekick for Lillard.
Will the Blazers be able to move past LaMarcus Aldridge?
Whenever a team loses one of the best players in all the NBA there’s no doubt that there’s going to be an adjustment period. Instead of the off having the offense flow through LaMarcus Aldridge it will now run through Damian Lillard. This won’t only be an adjustment that the players will have to grow accustomed to, but also the coaching staff.
Can Meyers Leonard and C.J. McCollum continue improving?
If there’s one bright spot for the Blazers’ last postseason it’s that Meyers Leonard and C.J. McCollum showed drastic improvements. Leonard was an efficient 3-point shooter who could draw defenses out on him, while McCollum showed the ability to score the ball at will. Hopefully these 2 guys can continue improving this upcoming season.
Will Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath be able to lead the Thorns to the playoffs?
Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath are coming off of a World Cup victory. After going head-to-head with some of the best teams in the world there’s no question that Morgan and Heath have learned some invaluable lessons that they can share with the rest of the Thorns. It’s fairly uncommon for any club team to have 2 athletes who started on a World Cup team. Hopefully they can use that to their advantage as Portland continues with their season.
Can the Timbers fix their scoring woes?
After starting off the season in a rather sluggish manner the Timbers went on one of the longest winning streaks in franchise history. They currently stand as one of the best teams in the Western Conference even though they’ve had issues when it comes to scoring. If the Timbers have any hopes of advancing into the postseason they need to figure out how to score the ball more frequently.
Will Joseph Young be able to contribute to the Pacers this season?
Joseph Young has the potential to be one of the most successful Ducks in the NBA. He experienced plenty of success in college that made him the 43rd overall selection by the Indiana Pacers during this year’s NBA Draft. The first obstacle that Young must overcome is simply making the roster. Young had an outstanding Summer League that helped increase his chances of playing for Indiana during the 2015-2016 season.
Photo via Joseph Young Twitter page (image cropped)
Will Gary Payton II follow in his father’s footsteps?
It’s almost a guarantee that Gary Payton II has his eyes on the NBA. After all, how could you not when your father was one of the most iconic players to have played for the Seattle Supersonics? If he truly wants to make his dream a reality he has to prove to NBA teams that he has what it takes.
Photo via Gary Payton Twitter page (image cropped)
Will Royce Freeman emerge as a Heisman candidate?
The University of Oregon has been blessed with numerous football players that have turned out to be Heisman candidates. Dennis Dixon, LaMichael James and Marcus Mariota have all been nominated for college football’s most prestigious award. There have already been some rumblings that Royce Freeman could be the next Duck to be up for the Heisman. He had a breakout season as a true freshman. If he continues to dominate there’s no doubt the sky’s the limit for the true sophomore.
Can Marcus Mariota lead the Titans franchise?
Marcus Mariota is one of the most successful quarterbacks to have come through the University of Oregon. With him now in the NFL many are curious as to whether or not he can come in and contribute right away. The Tennessee Titans are in need of a franchise player, and Mariota could very well be that guy. We wont know for sure until this upcoming season.
Will Chip Kelly’s offseason moves pay off?
Chip Kelly made a plethora of off-season moves that have many analysts scratching their heads. He traded away one of the most effective running backs in the NFL as well as his starting quarterback. What he got in return were two players who are both coming off of ACL injuries. If Kelly has a plan it better work out soon otherwise he could quickly find himself unemployed.
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