Triumph of the (rugged individualist) will

The women’s World Cup of soccer kicks off tomorrow here in Washington, D.C. The U.S. is the defending champion. Today, the Washington Post has a feature on the veteran core of the team, that has been together since the 1991 World Cup. The Post also provides a roster of this year’s team. It turns out that seven of the twenty members are age-30 or older, and five played on the 1991 team. To provide some perspective, I’m pretty sure that only one footballer who played for Brazil’s 1994 men’s World Cup champions is still on the Brazilian national team (a second, Ronaldo, who was then 17 and is now the best player in the world, was on the squad but never played, if I recall correctly).
What is the significance of this? Well, you may recall that after our women won the Cup in 1999, the liberal media were tripping over themselves to attribute the victory, in part, to the government’s aggressive Title IX enforcement effort. Indeed, it almost reminded me of Ceaucescu’s Romania — all praise to our glorious leader for conferring this great triumph on his people. A few cynics pointed out that the core of the team was in place before the advent of Clinton-era style Title IX enforcement and that, indeed, the top players were already stars before they were of college-age (Mia Hamm, the team’s best player, was playing for the national team at age-16). But, for the most part, it was a case of not letting the facts stand in the way of a good (socialist realist) story.
Now, in 2003, we find that the Clinton-era enforcement generation of women’s players cannot displace their less pampered predecessors of Bush/Reagan era vintige. Team coach April Heinrichs, captain of the 1991 team, says, “There is a generation of players that have been here for many, many years, and there will never be another generation like that in terms of talent, personality, charisma, leadership and experience.” So let’s hear it for rugged individualism, and wish this year’s team every success.

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