Sorry, naysayers. The U.S. women may not have conquered the 2011 FIFA Women’s Cup championship, but they still captivated us all the way to the heartbreaking end.
According to Austin Karp of the SportsBusiness Journal (via The Big Lead), the game between USA and Japan got an extremely impressive 8.6 rating Sunday. Although the mark is lower than the 13.3 that the 1999 championship game scored, that game had the advantages of being aired on ABC and being held in the United States.
What does this mean for women’s soccer? It’s difficult to say. On one hand, Americans do tend to come together surprisingly well when national pride is on the line. Regardless of personal bias, participants and what’s at stake, if it’s hyped sufficiently and red, white and blue flags are involved, you’ll usually pull a decent audience. At the same time, simply disregarding the interest in the U.S. women this year as patriotism and nothing more seems equally hasty.
There are tons of sporting events that occur throughout the calendar year that get zero buzz. Golf, hockey, bowling, strongman competitions, darts, checkers and everything in between have some sort of international tournament in which the best of the best are supposed to compete, yet the curiosity about those doesn’t even begin to compare to what happened with the women’s team over the past few weeks.
Maybe saying that women’s soccer has replaced hockey or baseball in the American “Big 4” sports group is a little (read: very) premature, but perpetuating the idea that women’s soccer isn’t in a better place today than it was six months is annoyingly stupid. The level of play was incredibly impressive -- and it found interest with men as well as women.
All sorts of Devils Advocates and folks trolling for attention will spend the near future trying to rain on the women’s soccer parade, but in the words of Jay-Z: Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.