American Hero

Not only did Landon Donovan score the goal that kept the U.S. alive in the World Cup, but he may have just converted a whole nation into soccer fanatics.

You can see the dramatic highlights here.

I still can’t believe it. When was the last time American soccer was this exciting?!?

~ Sarah

EDIT: FIFA blocked the original video I embedded, so I replaced it with a link.

5 Stages of Being a Sports Fan

This has not been a good month for me as far as sports go. Seriously, it’s been one disappointment after another: the Gators eliminated the Hurricanes from the College World Series, the Marlins’ relief pitching keeps getting worse while their bats cool off, and the Lakers won the NBA Finals. And if you know what’s good for you,  you won’t ask me about the U.S.-Slovenia game. Please, just don’t. (On a side note, this World Cup is doing a great job at reminding Americans why we tend to hate on soccer: lots of melodramatic players, blown calls, several ties, and some completely scoreless games. Americans love winners, so we have issues with draws- just saying.) It’s hard being a sports fan sometimes: emotions are constantly in flux. You don’t just root for some team on the field/court- it’s your team! So, now my breakdown of the five stages of being a sports fan (when your team loses):

1. Anticipation

You know the feeling- it’s right before the big game. All those expectations- good and bad- are floating around in your head. Your thoughts just become a series of “what if” questions. What if the team isn’t healthy? What if the defense sucks? What if we were playing at home? What if we lose? What if we win? When the anxiousness and the excitement of anticipation starts getting to you, you know it’s time for the game to begin.

2. Frustration

Things aren’t going according to plan! The defense is being sloppy. The offense isn’t producing. And the refs- what’s up with them? What was the coach thinking? The game is already out of reach. No one’s head is in the game- except for you, the fans who are grinding their teeth.

3. Euphoria

Your team is staging the comeback of the century! The first half/five innings/three games of the series has fired up your star player. Things are finally going your way. That goal/basket/homer has finally tied the game! And wait- there’s enough time for you to actually win! Imagine that!

4. Anger

They blew it- the refs/umps, the players, the coaches! Whoever it was, it doesn’t matter. That’s it- it’s over. Sure, your team probably shouldn’t have been losing in the first place, but after that epic comeback… Why do they even bother? Your team is a tease, flirting with victory.

5. Acceptance

Who are we kidding? Ask any England fan (1950 World Cup), Boston Red Sox fan (Bill Buckner), Miami Hurricane fan (2003 Fiesta Bowl), or Yankees fan (2004 ALCS), we can and will continue to mourn (read: rant about) that game until the end of time.

~ Sarah

Girl Crush: Mia Hamm

Hamm after the 2004 Olympics in Athens

For last week’s Girl Crush, I wrote about one of the leading ladies in entertainment, Tina Fey. This week though, to go try to go along with the quasi-World Cup theme going on here, I decided to write about one of my first role models growing up: #9, Mia Hamm. If you don’t know who Mia Hamm is, I’m not sure I can help you too much. Let’s just say she pretty much dominated women’s sports in the 1990s.

Mia Hamm was born in 1972, and was the youngest soccer player to play for the U.S. national team at 15. She attended the University of North Carolina, where she led the Tar Heels to four NCAA National Championships. In 1991 Hamm took a year off school to help the national team win the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was 19.

Sometime after that, Mia Hamm became Mia Hamm.One of my clearest sports memories ever was watching the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final. 90,000 people filled the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, making the match between the U.S. and China the most-attended women’s sporting event ever. I remember watching it on ABC, laying on my parents’ bed with my little brother and our new golden retriever puppy. Hamm of course played a spectacular game, and the U.S. won on penalty kicks. The game is known for the one of the most iconic moments in sports: Brandi Chastain celebrated her game-winning PK by peeling off her jersey and falling to her knees in her sports bra.

When Mia Hamm retired from soccer after winning gold in the 2004 Olympics, she had already cemented her legacy as the greatest women soccer player in history. She scored 158 (!!) international goals in her career, a world record among both male and female players. She was also named the FIFA World Player of the Year (Female) twice, in 2001 and 2002. She won two World Cups and three Olympic medals. Nike named the biggest building on their corporate compound after her, which is just pretty cool. She even went head to head with the great Michael Jordan in a memorable Gatorade ad:

It’s kind of impossible to put into words what Mia Hamm has meant to sports. In the 1990s, she helped showed the American masses the excitement and beauty of soccer. She’s been a trailblazer for all of women’s sports. When Women’s Professional Soccer, the professional women’s league in the United States, launched last year, Mia Hamm’s silhouette was chosen for the logo.Now, Mia Hamm is quite literally what so many people already knew her as: an icon.

Were you a fan of Mia Hamm growing up? Which female athletes do you admire?

Sources: Wikipedia,, ESPN

~ Sarah