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My goodness, you are one accomplished athlete. If there’s one job I wouldn’t want in all of sports, it’s goalie. Y’all are courageous, almost eerily agile, and let’s just say it, a little crazy. Who in their right mind signs up for a job where soccer balls are rocketing at them? I bow to your fire.
But even given the element of rogue it takes to stand between the pipes, this little sideshow you’ve got going smack dab in the middle of the Olympics is disturbing. Dashing off Tweets ripping commentator and former United States soccer player Brandi Chastain for giving critical commentary on the current team’s defense? For doing her job? (It’s not cheerleader … just sayin’). Dissing her opinion because “the game has changed from a decade ago” when she played?
Let me tell you, Hope, if you think Brandi Chastain is so yesterday, now you’re going to deal with me. Just call me The Day Before Yesterday. Back in another life, I was a sports journalist writing about the likes of Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers. In the 90s I was watching them blaze a trail for, yes, the likes of you. Did you not catch that “Dare to Dream” documentary on HBO? It’s all spelled out right there.
The fact that the sport has reached a point where we’re even having this discussion is heartening. The ascension of women’s soccer is only going to continue to open doors for more people who can aspire to be players, coaches, referees and, of course, commentators. For Chastain to have any credibility in her position, I can guarantee she has to regularly fight any urge she has to show emotion when the U.S. team scores or stops the opposition.
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It’s kind of like watching Rebecca Lobo when she’s on the sidelines of a University of Connecticut basketball game. You know she wants the Huskies to win on some level, but her job is to get interviews with both teams, to be as objective as possible, to see the game unfolding and use her expertise to enlighten us a bit.
Do you get that?
I’m here to life coach you, so I want you to first understand all I’ve just said. One, you stand on the shoulders of those before you, including Chastain, and two, her job is to tell a mostly soccer-savvy audience what she sees. You just turned 31. Surely you get that this isn’t personal. And that there are high school players and younger who will have you to thank one day.
What they get to see when you’re not sending offensive knee-jerk Tweets (I also refer, of course, to your 2010 Twitter rampage) is a vibrant, bright, elite athlete with something valuable to say.
“Growing up, I felt insecure about my build,” you told ESPNW in The Body Issue. “I didn’t feel very feminine. But as time went on, I learned to completely embrace my body. It’s helped me attain all my dreams and goals. I didn’t have an issue posing nude, because now I see my body as empowering. In 2008, I was maybe the fittest I had ever been, and we won the gold medal. I started to see the connection between my body and my accomplishments. I couldn’t have been a great goalkeeper without power, agility and quickness.”
That’s thoughtful, Hope. Your attitude and comments about body image, they are gold to those who follow your career. I’m not trying to put the role model thing on you if you don’t want it, but your potshot at the old guard suggests to me that you’re in need of some perspective on the impact you can and do have.
No one can force a woman to accept herself for who she is. But you have to know the sooner in life women make peace with their bodies, the more emotionally and physically healthy their lives will be. Your words on this topic reverberating around some awkward teen’s mind, that would be a really good thing. Could you maybe make that your priority moving forward when you’re expressing in the public sphere?
You seem to thrive on being a walking sound bite. And OK, some of us got a good laugh out of your revelation about the rampant Olympic sex going on across the pond. Lots won’t admit it, but it was kind of refreshing in its honesty. It’s not like we thought y’all took a vow of chastity before moving into the village. I am not looking to squash your penchant for irreverence or strong opinions. (That would make me a hypocrite.)
But the rips on media and fans, Hope? Not cool. Especially when they represent the past and the future of the game you so love.
Just keep it in mind, OK?
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.