US Soccer’s slogan “One Nation, One Team” manages to do two very different things at the same time. It manages to be a well crafted phrase than can be put on t-shirts and bumperstickers and Instagram posts while simultaneously being meaningless to the point of near ridiculousness.
“One Nation, One Team” is meant to invoke patriotism in fans. It is meant for you to recall “. . . one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all” from the pledge you did in school every morning. It’s meant to be easily remembered and easy to use on ad material.
But the world of “One Nation, One Team” is a fictional world propagated by US Soccer where the men’s and women’s national teams receive equal treatment. US Soccer banks on the fact that very few people will look at the budgets between the two teams and see they spent over $20 million more on the men’s national team in the 2015 fiscal year than on the women’s national team.
The men’s team is the default for US Soccer. Don’t believe me? Look at something as simple as the Twitter handles the team’s use.
Shouldn’t @ussoccer be the official account of all of US Soccer teams, carrying news and information for all of the various teams under US Soccer’s umbrella, and the men have their own account @ussoccer_mnt like the women have @ussoccer_wnt? Or if this is the world of “One Nation, One Team” why do they have separate accounts at all? @ussoccer has 1.5 million twitter followers, @ussoccer_wnt has a million less.
Why is US Soccer always the men’s handle and the women are forced to create ussoccer_wnt for themselves?
In this country we pride ourselves in hard work. Winning is what matters, right? So maybe the reason US Soccer defaults to the men’s team account is they just win more.
So let’s compare and see if maybe this is the reason that it’s less “One Nation, One Team” and more “One Nation, One Team, Two Wildly Different Standards”.
The men have a single single bronze from the 1930 men’s World Cup. In 1934 they finished in 16th place. 1938 they withdrew from the men’s World Cup. 1950’s men’s World Cup saw them land in 10th place. From 1954 to 1986 they failed to qualify. 1990 saw them in 23rd place, 1994 had them in 14th, 1998 they got 32nd, in 2002 they managed to get to the quarterfinals and ended up in 8th place, 2006 they ended their men’s World Cup run in 25th, 2010 it was 12th for them and the most recent men’s World Cup they finished in 15th place.
The women have a shorter history. The first women’s World Cup wasn’t held until 1991, but their track record is a little stronger. The women’s national team won the Women’s World Cup in 1991, 1999 and 2015. In 2011 they captured 2nd and in 1995, 2003 and 2007, they managed a bronze. You read that right. The highest the men have ever done in the men’s World Cup is the very lowest the women have done.
In Olympic play, before the rules were changed to it being a U23 event on the men’s side, the highest they finished was 8th in 1956.
The women have won four out of the five gold medals up for grabs and in the 2000 Olympic Summer Games managed a sliver.
Oh and their FIFA rankings? The men currently sit at 32 while the women are number 1 in the world.
It’s not just online that the men and women are on unequal footing. The women spend most of their time having games shown on ESPN 3 while the men often get ESPN’s main channel or ESPN 2 showing their games when ESPN owns the rights to the games. At least Fox Sports is constant putting all the games on FS1.
Even pro bowling has more ability to get their events on the main ESPN channel. On Sunday February 28, 2016 Hope Solo was on “Chris Paul’s CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational”. But the match she’ll play against the 3rd ranked team in the world on March 6, 2016? That will be shown on ESPN 3. And what is the difference between ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3? ESPN 3 is online only while ESPN and ESPN 2 is available on your tv. How is it that the PBA can get ESPN to show a celebrity invitational on their main channel and yet US Soccer can’t get them to show the women’s national team playing France there?
The US men and women have both played Canada this year. The men had an attendance of 9,274 as reported by US Soccer. The women? 10,119. Though that might be an unfair comparison. The women were playing for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying title. The men haven’t been on a CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying final since 2008.
The women are outpacing the men for overall attendance. Over the men’s 2 games they have an average attendance of 9, 461. While since January the women have played 5 times with a average attendance 11, 940. With a year high of 23,309 coming to see them in their first friendly of the year against Ireland.
“One Nation, One Team” would be great if it were true. “One Nation, One Team” would be great if US Soccer was trying to make it true. But they don’t seem to really care about the differences in quality for the teams. They simply care about coming up with a slogan they can slap on a shirt and sell you for $30. It’ll be extra low cut for the women, of course.