I was there: Gold Cup Final

My apologies for taking two plus weeks to get around to posting these pictures – it wouldn’t be too much hyperbole to tell you that it took me that long to recover!

Let’s preface all of this by saying that if you are at all a fan of US Soccer, you should be a member of your local American Outlaws chapter. The Outlaws are a supporters group with chapters in more than 90 cities around the country.

We’re members of the AO group here in Milwaukee and mostly that means we hang out at a local soccer bar together watching games and talking US Soccer. But occasionally it means we get on a bus together and head to Chicago for things like the Gold Cup Final.
Membership is a paltry $20 a year. You get discounts for some soccer websites and travel sites as well as opportunities for advanced purchase of tickets to pretty much all USMNT and USWNT games. We’re so glad to have joined. Our local group has FB and Twitter pages and we love joining the discussion and meeting fellow soccer fans. It’s a great group and I’d advocate everyone joins.

So we bought our Gold Cup Final tickets the day they went on sale. We hedged our bets on the USMNT being there. We know that big international games only come near us (usually Chicago) every could of years. We decided that even if the USMNT didn’t make it, it would be a good time, so we were in no matter what. Using the AO advanced sale, we got our tickets first thing and had 10th row. We were stoked and then just had to sit back and enjoy the ride of the US through the qualifying stages.

We also knew this would be an easy trip for us – we wanted to get WCQ tickets in Columbus or Kansas City, but we also want to go to Europe next year, so we sort of settled on this Gold Cup final instead. In the end, I don’t feel like I settled, though. I’m sure US/Mexico will be bonkers, but I’m glad we did this. It was a good intro into the world of AO and supporters section mania.

So the morning of the game we gathered with other local AO members at our soccer bar and boarded a bus. The price of bus admission included beer, drinks and snacks. Someone did the math – there were 9.5 beers on board for each person. (Let me just say that as much as I love AO, I would have loved AO so much more when I was about 10 years younger!)

The bus trip alone was an experience. The “America playlist” was as varied as you’d imagine and somehow the song that had the most crowd participation was Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” – there’s nothing like grown men shushing each other in anticipation of “the breakdown” and then playing the drums on the roof of the bus. It was a moment.

Chicago traffic was true to form, despite it being Sunday morning/early afternoon. The Chicago AO chapter as well as any others in town had met at a bar. The plan was to march to Soldier Field past the US Soccer Federation House, where President Sunil Gulati would address us. Thanks to traffic, we missed the bar part and had our bus driver take us straight to the Soccer House. We stood there and listened to the rest of the group march to us, which was awesome. Having got there first means that the Milwaukee chapter is featured prominently in the video of Gulati addressing the crowd (notice the cheesehead and AO Milwaukee scarves).

My pictures seem to have uploaded in all kinds of order and if you’re familiar with WordPress, you know why I’m not going to try to fix that. Sorry. It should be clear which pictures are the march to the stadium and which pictures are of the game and inside the stadium.

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ESPN’s 9 for IX films about women by women

There are many negatives to say about the WWL, but one of the things they’ve consistently done well are their 30 for 30 films/documentaries. They’ve run the gamut from well-known topics to hidden gems and they’re always so well done. Even the most well-known of stories have been covered in a way that you didn’t feel like the topic was being re-hashed.

So when ESPN announced the 9 for IX series of films about women by women, I was pretty excited. They are touting it as from the producers of 30 for 30 and executive produced by Robin Roberts and Jane Rosenthal.

The first one debuted this week – called “Venus vs.” it was ostensibly about the fight for women’s singles players to earn an equal payout at Wimbeldon.

And I was thoroughly disappointed.

I do not follow tennis. I exist in this world, so I know who Venus Williams is and am aware of her career accomplishments. And so I was bored by this film. It was mostly a re-hash of each of her accomplishments, centered around Wimbeldon. Every so often, a screen would appear to show me that with those Wimbeldon wins, she earned less than the men’s winner. There was a few minutes about a meeting and a letter to the editor that were influential in changing the All England Club’s standards. But really, it was mostly about 45 minutes of Venus highlights. It felt like there was more talk about her hair beads than equal pay.

Again, I don’t follow tennis at all and I learned little to nothing new. And I just felt so sad that this was the intro to this film series. It left me bewildered and beyond concerned about the rest of the series.

Where I was once super-excited about the 1999 Women’s World Cup winning soccer team one, set to air August 20, I can only imagine I could probably write it word for word. And I’m afraid what kind of rhetoric about bras and abs it will include.

Maybe I’m jumping the gun and the films will redeem themselves – but you’d think they’d put one of the strongest ones at the front, to come out of the gate galloping. And if that’s the case, despite the fact that I set my DVR to record all 9 films, I’m imaging my finger will be reaching for the delete button early on.

The films were made in part to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, but man do they really fail to live up to that legacy. It seems like maybe the idea and the goal was one thing, but the execution and final product was something else altogether. I can’t help but wonder if in the interim, ESPN and it’s executives pulled back on the reins. Because I felt no excitement or empowerment from “Venus vs.”

Did anyone else watch? What was your take?

Fun Minor League stats from Opening Day (SQUEE)

Yesterday was Opening Day in Minor League Baseball, which is like Christmas Part III (after MLB Opening Day, and actual Christmas).

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Will Smith, strike-outer and high-fiver of many.

A big story was Jurickson Profar finally making an appearance at AAA, after skipping straight up to the Majors from AA last year. He went 2-3, which is nice, but hardly the most interesting-looking line of the night.

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Danica Patrick and Lauren Silberman: Why Even Small Firsts Are Still Important

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Danica Patrick has been around, even in NASCAR driver form, for a while now, and if you are like me you’ve gotten used to rolling your eyes at whatever dumb thing the 13 year old boys who run Go Daddy’s marketing department are making her do now and moving on.  So unless you’re a diehard NASCAR fan, you might have missed that this week Danica became the first female driver to ever capture the Daytona 500 pole.

Unless you are a NFL junkie (and I mean a serious, I-am-dvring-the-scouting-combine-footage-on-NFL-Network junkie), you may have also missed that next weekend Lauren Silberman will become the first woman to attend an NFL regional scouting combine as a prospective draftee.

In the context of the wins-oriented sports world, these are not mind-blowing achievements.  No one has won Daytona from the pole in over a decade, and anyone meeting the NFL’s general eligibility requirements (and ponying up the registration fee) can attend a regional level combine (it’s the Draft Combine, which is invitation only, that gets all the media coverage, usually).

But tell the little girls suddenly swarming Daytona that Danica’s pole doesn’t really matter.  Tell the eleven year old in Philadelphia who still is being forbidden to play football solely because of her gender that the best football league in the world accepting a woman’s application to enter their scouting process as if she was any other player is no big deal.  Just think for one minute about SportsCenter Sunday night ending with the traditional celebratory winner and what that looks like if it’s Danica amid the confetti. Think about watching Fox’s Game of the Week on Sunday, and hearing Joe Buck casually announce “Silberman out to attempt the field goal.”  We may be a long way from that actually happening (particularly the latter), but the path to both of those endings just got a little bit smoother.  And that’s something to celebrate.

Sports ‘N Crafts: Mardi Gras Beads Makeover

There are a number of reasons to start our new (and hopefully, semi-regular) feature on sports themed crafts with today’s project.  For one, it is nearly Mardi Gras (and our own CuteSports is in New Orleans as you read this!). For another, the beads in this project belong to my oft-mentioned Saints fan boyfriend, and today is his birthday.  (Don’t worry, babe, I got you real presents, not just a blog post.)

As you can see, my boyfriend’s lucky Saints beads, which he wears for every game, are a little worse for wear after several seasons of nervous fingering.beadsbefore

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TGIF: Crafty Games

On the heels of the popular Stitch ‘N Pitch promotions encouraging knitters to bring their projects to their local ballpark, we now have Pucks n’ Purls, a promotion by the AHL’s Toronto Marlies (so those of us who are staying away from the NHL can enjoy, too!)

So this morning’s musing…. what would you call a similar promotion in football? Soccer?  Basketball?  Have at it in the comments!