World is missing Womenís World Cup fever
by Chris Jaster
As I look back on the happenings in the world of sports for the past two weeks, I canít help but notice that there is a feeling that is missing. Thereís excitement for the National Football League, thereís excitement for the playoff race in the Canadian Football League and the playoffs in Major League Baseball, but something is still absent. This feeling should not be located just in Canada and the United States, but it should be felt all around the world.
The feeling that is missing is World Cup fever. Sure, Korea and Japan hosted the World Cup last year and Brazil won, but the fever that people had to support their menís team is not the same for the womenís teams as they compete in the fourth Womenís World Cup, which is presently being played in the United States.
Having watched the Canadian team struggle through the first round of the competition, I couldnít help but notice how empty the stands were, the lack of noise in the stadium, and how it appeared that nobody cared about the competition. I thought that maybe itís just the view of the Americans, but I watched the news and they had nothing on the event.
Looking back just one year ago, news stories were written about the fans. People crowded into town squares to watch their country fight for World Cup glory. Riots broke out. People filled the streets of Toronto cheering for one country or another. This year, there is none of that.
Canada has never supported the sport of soccer very well. The menís team is currently ranked 79th in the world and does not have a permanent head coach. The only Canadian menís team to qualify for a World Cup was the 1986 team. This meant that those soccer fans that are across this nation of ours are cheering for other nations since they want to support a winner. Now, we have a team that is talented in the womenís side and it seems that nobody cares.
The women upset the fourth-ranked Chinese in the quarter-finals and lost to the fifth-ranked Swedes in the semi-finals, quite the accomplishment for a team ranked 12th in the world and considering that the Canadians are playing with a makeshift back line.
Despite the incredible play of our ladies, there is very little mention of the team among Canadians. People did not run out into the streets to party and celebrate a victory over the heavily favoured Chinese. The Chinese did not stand in shock or riot from being upset after suffering the loss. Things got out of control in Russia last year because the fans loved their team so much, but nothing comparable has happened this year.
Perhaps there isnít as much support because the United States is hosting the event for the second consecutive time, as China lost the games from the SARS scare earlier this summer.
Although this may be a minor factor, I believe the main reason is that womenís sports are not nearly as popular as menís sports. Part of this is because it is difficult to compare the two sports, but people would rather support a menís team than a womenís regardless of the sport.
Canada has an incredible womenís soccer team who are fighting for the bronze medal in the Womenís World Cup, and nobody seems to care. Nobody cares that this team has Canadaís first ever win at any World Cup, that this is the first Canadian team to advance out of the first round at any World Cup and that this team is battling the United States for a medal.
People need to recognize the talent this country has and support it. If we donít support our womenís soccer team, then we will never see incredible talent like 16-year old Kara Lang, 19-year old sensation Christine Sinclair, and many members of the U-19 silver medalist Canadian team that will play for the senior side in the future want to play for Canada.
With the menís soccer program struggling, we need to go out and support our womenís soccer team. They are our best chance at a World Cup right now. Letís show these girls our support by catching a feverĖWorld Cup fever, and party as the women fight for the bronze against the United States on Saturday.