By DR. KAREN LATIMER
I grew up in Queens, New York in the 70s and 80s. In my neighborhood, no one played soccer, and the options for girls to play anything else was limited. I played softball for three years on concrete schoolyards. It wasn't until I pointed out my home "field" to my college boyfriend from the suburbs, and he asked if there used to be a field there, did I understand girls play softball on grass. I thought the difference was not only the size of the ball, but that baseball was played on grass and softball was played on concrete.
With three daughters who play, and play hard, I am so proud of how far women's sports have come, and nothing represents this progress as well as the Women's National Soccer Team. I went to a friendly against South Korea a couple of weeks ago, and there was not an empty seat in the arena. Men and boys, as well as the girls, were wearing jerseys bearing the names of the players. How far we've come!
Here are 10 reasons to jump on board:
1. In too many parts of the world, women do not have the most basic of human rights. Rape, persecution and slavery are acceptable, burkas are mandatory and education is a fantasy. On this world stage, you will see women freely baring their arms and legs, exhibiting their strength and smarts, and barreling through female stereotypes.
2. Look at the polls. As a nation, we are down on our country. We are not unified, we are not satisfied with our government and we are not secure in our future. Cheering for the U.S.A. will give you a much needed boost of patriotism and pride.
3. Red, White and Blue looks good on everyone.
4. Nothing brings people closer than a common rooting interest, and if your spring was anything like mine, you can use some quality family time.
5. "Run like a girl" used to be an insult, implying flailing arms and awkward steps. Not anymore. Women's sports have historically meant empty stands and slow play. Not in these games. Watch and you will witness first hand one of the best symbols of just how far women have come.
6. Your children live in a society where they are bombarded by unhealthy, unrealistic images of the ideal woman. The athletes your kids will watch will not be photo-shopped, they will not be posed, they will not be phony ... and they will be beautiful.
7. With so few family choices on TV, this is something you can all watch together without having to cover the eyes of your younger children.
8. There is a very good chance U.S.A. will win and while everyone loves an underdog, sometimes it is just more fun to be rooting for a winner.
9. You can make a great pre-game playlist, which can double as your Fourth of July Soundtrack.
– "American Girl" – Tom Petty
– "American Woman" – Lenny Kravitz
– "Born in the U.S.A." – Bruce Springsteen
– "God Bless the U.S.A." – Lee Greenwood
– "Party in the U.S.A." — Miley Cyrus
– "Only in America" – Brooks and Dunn
– "Coming to America" – Neil Diamond
– "Firework"— Katy Perry
– "This is My Fight Song"
10. Think soccer is boring? Think again. Check out the schedule and mark your calendars. You will be drawn in by the skill, the mental and physical toughness and the global competition. Get to know the players. You will be impressed by their strength of character, the level of commitment, and the challenges they have overcome.
On top of all that, it is fun to make some noise chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A !