The sports world was captivated almost exactly a year ago when the U.S. women’s soccer made an amazing run to the 2011 Women’s World Cup final. While they lost in the championship game, the whole country stood behind a team in which they could be proud. In 2012, that same team returns for the London Olympics and is poised to recreate some of the same magic. On Tuesday, I was able to witness some of this magic first hand.
In a game against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), I could feel and see what captivated soccer fans across the world. From the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner to the entire team holding hands and bowing as the game ended, there was something about this U.S. team that transcended the game itself.
Watching the women walk off the field, congratulating each other, I am genuinely proud to call these 18 women representatives of my nation. In an era of sports where egos and contracts are at such a massive level, this U.S. women’s team is above all of that. They aren’t playing for money; they aren’t playing for individual accolades. They want to win for each other, for us, and for everyone they represent.
I’m not overly patriotic. I sing my country’s national anthem with pride at ball games and wave a flag for the Fourth, but watching these girls play made me truly say I am proud to be an American.
Watching the action between the U.S. and North Korean women’s soccer teams led many fans to contemplate the effects of the Olympics on global affairs.
The match on Tuesday night at Old Trafford in Manchester ended with the U.S. women emerging victorious in the 1-0 game, Abby Wambach’s 25th minute goal being the deciding point, but fans in the stands, such as Jennifer McPartlin, had other questions than the final score.
McPartlin and her boyfriend, who traveled from New Jersey to watch the games, had a political debate prior to the match. Knowing the histories of the other competing countries is important for spectators, she said.
“I just think you need to know the back story of North Korea and if you don’t know it, then you’re an idiot,” McPartlin said. “We came in here and he had a lot of questions, like is it a dictator(ship), but they call it a republic.”
Other fans saw the game as an opportunity to put aside whatever diplomatic tensions exist between the two nations outside of the Olympics and focus on the match.
“I think it’s a great game (because) it brings countries together and we can just enjoy being together as a world and put all the political things aside,” said Krista Coupe of Colorado.
Sneha Reddy from Connecticut, who watched the match with her two children, enjoyed the presence of the Olympic spirit. She said she thought the Olympics transcend global conflict.
“I think it’s bringing people together,” Reddy said. “I think it’s important. Games like this is one of the few ways we can bring people together. It’s definitely sending the whole world a message.”
From California to Connecticut fans braved the rain to travel to Manchester and support the USA women’s soccer team in their matchup against North Korea on Wednesday. Despite the weather the team defeated North Korea in a 1-0 victory. Fans dressed in red, white and blue rushed to celebrate the victory with the team following the game. The team advanced to take on New Zealand in the quarter finals on Friday.