From the Confederacy to Jim Kelly’s Buffalo Bills teams in the early ’90s, and even the consistent coverage of Donald Trump and his supporters, throughout history, America has proven that it’s fascinated with losers… who are white.
And while the U.S. National Women’s National Soccer Team is the furthest thing from ever being considered losers, the predominantly white squad is, in fact, losing. Their semifinal loss to Canada was their second of the tournament (Sweden). A gold medal is now out of the picture, as a bronze medal is the only thing they can win, but even that isn’t a guarantee.
“If I could just say something, I just think the players have a lot to look at ourselves about,” said Megan Rapinoe after her team’s loss to Canada. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, we didn’t play better,’ and getting on each other, but we need to perform better, period. We don’t have juice because the ball’s banging off our shins and we’re not finding open passes and doing the simple things.”
But do you know who is winning in the Olympics, as usual?
The predominantly Black U.S. National Women’s Basketball Team, which is going for its seventh consecutive gold medal. To date, the team has only lost four games in the Olympics since 1976, and they’ve been undefeated in Olympic play since the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. During that time, we’ve seen the men’s team stumble to a bronze, rebuild itself into a global power, and stumble again under coach Gregg Popovich. The women’s soccer team only has four gold medals since 1996, while the women’s basketball team is primed to win their seventh.
“It’s encouraging to continue to win, knowing what we’re faced against,” said head coach Dawn Staley about her team’s 93-82 comeback victory over France on Monday. “We are a lot different than we’ve been in the Olympic Games leading up to this one, in that we’ve just had half of the team that’s been around, and then the other half really hasn’t. And when your makeup is such, you have a tendency to lean heavily on the people that have done it a whole lot.”
So far, the women’s basketball team has won their games by margins of 9, 17, and 11 points. The world is catching up with the United States in sports that we’ve historically dominated, however, the women’s basketball team has been able to hold off its opponents longer than our men’s team.
And let me be clear, I am in no way trying to pit two great women’s national teams against each other. But I am highlighting how the one with a lesser resume always gets more attention than the team that’s more qualified for our fanfare.
“When the U.S. women’s national team finally begins its Olympic campaign in Japan, it will be the massive favorite. There are some good reasons for that, including its No. 1-world ranking and its title as the reigning World Cup champion,” wrote Caitlin Murray on July 16, 2021, in a story for ESPN, headlined “Are Olympics too easy and too small for women’s soccer?”
“But there’s an even better reason: there’s just not a ton of competition,” the story read. “With only 12 teams in the entire tournament, many of the best teams in the world won’t even be there.”
Translation: Everybody thought the predominantly white women’s team was going to breeze its way to a gold medal, and now a bronze is its only hope, while the decades-long dominance of the predominantly Black women’s team is still being ignored.
This is America 101. Because in this country, if women are going to be uplifted, it’s always going to be the ones with blonde hair and blue eyes who get first dibs, even when they don’t deserve it.
“With the light that I have now as a white woman who leads a Black-led sport and celebrated here, I want to shed a light on Black women,” said Paige Bueckers at last month’s ESPY Awards. “They don’t get the media coverage that they deserve. They’ve given so much to the sport, the community and society as a whole and their value is undeniable.”
In a Summer Games that’s been ravished by COVID-19 for two years, the spotlight from the Olympics has been cast on a revolving door of athletes. Before the games even started Sha’Carri Richardson was the talk of the town. And since then, the focus has been on Simone Biles’ mental health, Novak Djokovic’s temper tantrums, the men’s basketball team’s losses, and now the crushed gold medal dreams of the women’s national soccer team.
For a country that loves to boast and brag about how great we are, it’s usually due to the services of Black women. From Stacey Abrams saving our democracy last November to the U.S. women’s national basketball team, Black women are once again “making America great.”
Because if you didn’t know, it is absolutely possible to cheer for two women’s teams at the same time. But, just make sure you’re cheering louder for the squad that always lives up to a “gold standard.”