The Women’s World Cup begins today in Canada with the host nation playing against China at 6 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. If you haven’t been following women’s soccer, now is the time to start. You won’t be the only one. The tournament is receiving an unprecedented amount of coverage and attention. Or should I say, it’s receiving an unprecedented amount of coverage and attention for a women’s sporting event. For reason’s that escape me, when it comes to sports, women always get the short end of the stick. Less money, less attention, less adulation, less of everything. That’s starting to change and this World Cup is proving it in a number of ways:
- Every game will be televised live on Fox, Fox Sports 1, or Fox Sports 2. This is being viewed by many people as a test run for Fox’ coverage of the next few men’s World Cups, which they bought the rights to. Suffice it to say that they’re throwing every resource they have at the tournament to make it enjoyable and exciting.
- The next edition of EA Sports’ soccer video game, FIFA 16, (part of the world’s best selling video game series of all time,) will feature women’s soccer teams. This may not sound like much, but playing video games is one of the key ways that I’ve gotten into and learned about sports. Having playable female characters is a big step towards treating soccer like something that is equally male and female. The fact that EA Sports did it without any kind of annoying over-compensating pink girl’s mode makes it even better.
- One of the great things about the video game is that boys and men who love soccer will end up playing as women, learning about the players, and growing into fans of the teams. As sparse as resources for women who love women’s soccer have been, what’s available for men who follow women’s soccer has been even less. Until this year, a man who wanted to buy a U.S. Women’s National Team jersey had to either buy a youth size or a woman’s size shirt. The women’s jerseys were not made in men’s sizes. The other option a male fan had was to buy a men’s jersey and customize it to have one of the woman player’s names and numbers on the back. This year, for the first time ever, NIKE is selling the women’s jerseys in men’s sizes! You can buy a legit Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, or Sydney Leroux jersey or customize your own.
- Finally, the sports media has also been taking the tournament more seriously than ever. Deadspin has run an impressive series of World Cup previews. Five Thirty Eight, in true Five Thirty Eight fashion, created and beautifully illustrated a model predicting the likely outcomes of the World Cup, and then had Allison McCann write a survey of the tournament that interpolated the model without relying on it too heavily.
We’ve been taking the Women’s World Cup seriously since this blog started four years ago. This year around, we published short, gender-free profiles of all 23 members of the U.S. Women’s National Team. We’ll be rooting for them and writing about the tournament for the next month. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, or on email:
Thanks for reading and enjoy the tournament!