A few days ago, the 2011 Women's World Cup came to a stunning and exhilarating conclusion. The U.S. Women's team lost a heartbreaking thriller on penalty kicks to the underdog Japanese.
While not garnering as much attention as the Men's World Cup last summer, many sports fans in America followed the women's team closely, and were rewarded with great success from the squad. The team played with passion and great effort as it fought to a victory over world power Brazil and also overcame France. In these regards, the women's team reminds me of their male counterparts, who lost in a similarly emotional way in last summer's tournament, yet displayed grit and toughness.
After the successes and failures of the United States' soccer squads in World Cups, the future of American soccer must be analyzed. One controversial question must be asked in this discussion.
Does America deserve to be World Cup Champions?
In countries such as Brazil, France, Spain, and Ghana, futbol is king. The sport dominates the athletic landscape on a level that Americans find difficult to grasp. The dedication and passion that fans in these countries have for their futbol teams is unparalleled. Nearly the entire world outside of America worships the sport.
The fact that Americans call the sport "soccer" further demonstrates the mentality that Americans have concerning the sport. Unless there is a World Cup under way, most Americans simply ignore soccer, choosing to follow baseball, football and basketball instead. Behind hockey, this puts soccer fifth on the totem pole of importance. Ask the average American to name more than two players from the U.S. National Team and he or she would likely be dumbfounded.
Many argue that the rise of the MLS demonstrates the growth of the sport in the U.S. However, MLS's growth is slow and is concentrated in a few areas of the country.
To be clear, the players of the U.S. squads certainly deserve to win. They put in the work and have a passion for the sport like any other player in the world. It is the fans that do not deserve it.
Ultimately, this discussion boils down to one thought: A country and its fans do not deserve to be the best in a sport that most care so little about. It may not be the patriotic thing to say, but Americans do not deserve a World Cup championship. Hopefully, some day we will.