Monday, July 18, 2011

Proud to Be an American

To phrase this in the kindest way possible, the MomQueenBeen family is not particularly athletic. Oh, we enrolled the Boys in summer baseball and swim classes and basketball leagues and soccer teams (both spring and fall) and during one memorable summer we spent every single weekday evening at the baseball field, but I did my own private little happy dance when Boy#4 hit eighth grade and aged out of the teams that have to take you because you sign up, regardless of talent.

We do love sports, though, and are the most appreciative of fans. When World Cup soccer is on, we watch. (We're also grateful when games are in the Western Hemisphere because that means we don't have to set our alarms for 2 a.m. to see the games, but that's another story.)

This year's U.S. women's team has been wonderful to watch. They have the heroic goalie, and the young kids, and the old gal with the steel-plated forehead who won my heart by chatting with the google-eyed youngster who escorted her into the stadium for the final game. This team played with wonderful energy and enormous heart as well as skill.

As I watched our team play Japan yesterday afternoon, I thought of when the Boys were younger. Every once in a while a kid just can't get a break. The class election goes the wrong way, the debate partner ends up on a different squad, the piano solo gets a II rating--all of these are part of life, but a string of them is demoralizing. Eventually the bad streak always comes to an end, but meanwhile too much chin-upping is painful. I remember once telling Husband how glad I was that one of the Boys had gotten a well-deserved good grade on a project. "He needed a win," I said.

Japan has had a horrendous year, with disasters both natural and man-made. They needed a win, so I'm glad that if the U.S. was going to lose it was to this team.

But I was proud beyond words of the way we lost. Unlike their male World Cup counterparts, these final teams played cleanly and as the models of sportsmanship they should be. No sliding tackles, no feigned injuries, no shrieking at the refs. When the game was over, even though they must have been heartbroken, the American players squared their shoulders and congratulated the victors.

When our Boys left for competitions when they were little, I always said the same thing: "Play hard. Play fair. Have a good time."

That's what our American women did, and they could not have represented their nation more nobly. They absolutely are winners.

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