I like sports. I’ve played most of them. I still play hockey at a “competitive” level. Have for 30 years. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of a beating – more than enough times. A few streams of thought.
The Women’s World Cup is underway now in France. World’s largest sport, great stage, awesome that we can see more of it. Hockey is in a similar boat, where the global talent pool is only just emerging. It takes at least a generation to build a base, and that includes a massive investment in infrastructure. Elite athletes are not born, they are bred. And depending on the country, a particular sport may be more attractive than another (see Usain Bolt). The gap in hockey is dramatically larger than football – but it’s similar enough that there are plenty of wash outs on the international level.
The US beat Thailand 13-0 the other day. Opinions abound. The aspect of this particular tournament is that goal differentials can make/break the way forward. The men’s cup often sees this occur. Combine that with the fact that the players on the team are all actively competing for a starting position, there are only a few games, and there’s ample reason to see why the US did not let up. Anyone who has played at the competitive level where points scored mattered in a tie breaker understands this. Be mad at the people who made the rules, not the ones who follow them.
Where a bit more nuance applies, and gameship, is in the way the US acted as the game progressed. I don’t mean in a technical sense but in the personal sense. In hockey, there’s an unwritten rule where you simply stop celebrating goals when you’re clearly dominating. That’s really super evident in the lopsided international events where games can reach 10-0 and there’s barely a smile after a goal. I can’t recall anyone celebrating an open-net goal to clinch a game. I would hazard to say that this is a holdover of the Canadian “sorry first” mentality that permeates the sport. (US mainline sports do not have this, since baseball, football, and basketball are never managed on a points scored system. It’s purely win/loss.)
Watching the US players celebrate their goals really got under some people’s skins, and effectively makes them look like villains in this tournament. Villains in the sense of international eyes. How the home crowd views this is really a microcosm of the global sport. At no point do I advocate them not scoring plenty of goals – again that’s the way the tournament is structured. Fill the net. But perhaps lay off the major celebrations on goals 8+? At no point did anything thing Thailand had a chance, so what exactly is being celebrated? That you were able to beat someone that has half your skill level? Yay you?
(For those watching NBA finals and wondering about the classless Toronto fans, hear me out a second. When we (Canadians) see an injury, it is a real visible injury – e.g. blood, knock down, etc… Hockey players end up in the finals with no ACL/MCL… so there’s a certain toughness in sport that’s expected. KD stopped, and walked to the side to sit down, barely made a face. That does not look like an injury. The Raptors and replay were essential to communicate that it was indeed a serious injury. When that was understood, the fans completely changed their response. I don’t think it had any bearing on the game past that point – that was a horrible 2nd half for both teams- and the game changer was the oddly called time out.)