Friday, June 5, 2015

Women's World Cup 2015

I started thinking a lot about the Women's World Cup* during Memorial Day weekend**. Somehow the year has blown by, and until that weekend, I didn't even realize that the competition was just around the corner, the same day as the final game of the Champions League. (In fact, the opening game could start during the finals. Great planning, FIFA.) We're looking forward to it and hoping that the US team pulls off the victory, but it's just made me think a lot about how different the experience has been this year, compared to last year's Men's World Cup.

(* I considered just calling it this year's World Cup in this post, instead of the Women's World Cup, but for the sake of clarity, left it as the WWC. Then I read this article and now I'm definitely doing that so FIFA doesn't throw a fit (not like they would about our little blog, but still).)

(** Yes, Memorial Day weekend, back before all the indictments of FIFA officials for corruption, money laundering, and more, and before Blatter resigned. So much has "changed" in FIFA since then, but so much remains the same as it's not like anyone is treating the women's game any differently.)

We usually catch a lot of the games in the Women's World Cup but even our treatment of it hasn't been the same as the men's game. We haven't been eagerly anticipating the first game of the competition the way we counted down the days in the men's tournament. At the point when there were only 2 weeks to go until the tournament, we didn't have an eating challenge planned for all the countries competing like the way we planned out possible stops for the men's tournament by that time. Heck, right now we can't even name all the countries in this year's cup, compared to last year at this time when we could name not only the countries but their groups. We're currently following the men's qualification for the next Euro, but the only team we followed in the women's World Cup qualification at all was the USWNT. We don't have the same dedication where we try and catch every single game that we possibly can (and neglect our DVR in the process). It's just not the same.

Wonder if they have displays like this at sporting goods stores for the women's tournament...

In many ways, this is due to the way FIFA runs things, the way the tournaments are promoted, aired, and highlighted in the media, and also the way countries themselves treat women's sports. (Artificial turf, are you serious?!) But, by not treating the women's game the same (especially when the women's team is arguably much better than the men's here), aren't we also contributing to putting the women's game on a lower level? And as far as our blogging here is concerned, if we didn't do an eating challenge, wouldn't we be just as bad?

While that thought made me feel really guilty, I also couldn't deny that the World Cup eating challenge is actually really hard and all-consuming. While there are 8 less teams in the women's tournament, we didn't even hit 24 in our challenge last year, so it's still a difficult task. There's the planning and research, but also just trying to hit 24 different spots in one month while not going out most days of the week. It restricts what you can do with the rest of your summer since the entire month is mostly devoted to or built around where you are for the challenge. Every 4 years, that's somewhat manageable, but 2 consecutive years out of every 4 would be very hard.

So how to compromise? How do we both honor the women's game but not lose our entire summer to another challenge? The best solution I could come up with (somehow wandering the streets on an 87 degree humid afternoon made my brain work!) was to treat the 2 tournaments as sort of 2 parts of a whole. Whatever teams are in the women's tournament that we hit last year, we can skip if we want, but we'll really try to hit up spots for teams that are only in this year's tournament or that we missed last year. That cuts the number in half, and while we probably still won't get to them all, it's a much more reasonable ask and attempt. As far as skipping the others, they honestly don't really feel that long ago and we're still blogging about tons of stuff from last year, so it seems fresh enough that it should count.

The Women's World Cup kicks off tomorrow. Let's see how we do with the challenge!

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