Thursday, May 07, 2009

ESPN pays WPS some attention

I was pleased to see (well, pleased in that, I'm-not-quite-sure-how-I-feel-about-this way) that ESPN online had a column about the WPS. I have not gone back into the ESPN archives to view their previous coverage (I don't even know if there is any). But this article focused on the event of the week. It's not a convincing win, a great shootout, or an amazing goal. It's Abby Wambach's yellow-carded challenge/foul on Athletica star Daniela that resulted in torn ligaments and a broken tibia.
Should Wambach receive further disciplinary action? Most people think no; though the issue remains under review by WPS peeps.
It raises issues of whether Wambach plays "too tough." But Wambach herself was on the receiving end of a challenge that resulted in two broken bones in her leg and took her out of the last World Cup. And she gets a lot of physical play against her. Some argue she takes falls and plays up these moments of physical contact. But you cannot deny that she is a target. Following the Daniela incident Wambach was the target of at least two Athletica defenders who never received yellow cards for their overly aggressive play.
So this whole thing raises several issues: what's too tough? how much contact do we want to see or should we be seeing in soccer? are our standards gendered?
Most agree that the ref did a poor job keeping this game in check.
And I have spoken with other "big girl" athletes who are placed in a similar bind to Wambach. They become targets because of their size, and because of their size they are able to often defend themselves using greater force than was exerted on them. No one seems to be able to figure out what is fair, what is the proper use of force or truly distinguish the opinions/decisions we (the public) and officials are making based on beliefs about size, strength, power, and gender norms.

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