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Who can forget the goal heard around the world that introduced us to the most famous sports bra ever? Brandi Chastain became an instant celebrity and so did her bra when she ripped off her jersey in dramatic fashion after clinching the World cup title in 1999. Chastain’s stripping goal act did not only win the United States the World Cup, but she brought attention to Women’s sports; an improbable task. 40 million Americans tuned in to watch Chastain and the US girls step into world soccer immortality that day; more viewers than the NBA finals. That was twelve years and three world cups ago. Today, the United States is the world’s number one team and has a good shot at winning this year’s World Cup; who knew?
The sixth ever, Women’s World Cup kicked off last week in Germany on June 26th. An astronomical 18 million viewers in Germany tuned in to watch their beloved German women take on Canada in the Cups opening game. With all the success in host country Germany; maybe there would be improved interest in the United States right? Wrong. The US viewership of the opening game came in at just under one million viewers; pathetic. Women’s soccer has been unable to catch the eyes of American viewers since 1999. Clearly, we need more sports bra cameos.
Where is the allure of the Women’s World Cup? Where’s the American pride? It doesn’t make sense that that 15th and average at best, men’s squad receives nationwide support. Yet, the US women, the world’s number one team, are treated as if they’re irrelevant. Something’s not right here.
Maybe it’s the slower speed of play from the Men’s game. Or maybe it’s the myth that women soccer players are less aggressive and intense. Either way, the last two World Cups (2003 and 2007) have been rating nightmares causing ESPN to swallow some pride. In search of a change (miracle), ESPN hired popular former US stars, Brandi Chastain, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brianna Scurry to commentate the cup. Every cup game will be aired on ESPN and broadcasted live on ESPN3.com. 2011 is supposed to be the year US women’s soccer relives its glory days of 1999; we’ll see about that.
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