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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sunday Cardinal Couple - WUGs Update - WWC

WUGs Update

The WUGs, The World University Games, are a favorite of Cardinal Couple, mostly because it's fun to say.  Go ahead, "The WUGs", say it out loud, it's just fun to say it.

There are also a couple of UofL rooting interests involved, so let's get a bit of an update on where they stand.

Molly Fears has broken new territory for UofL Swimming and Diving by competing at a very high level, and now in international competitions from the diving side of the swimming and diving team.  At the WUGs, Molly was competing in the platform competition, and the finals in that event occurred on the 4th.  Fears wrapped up the competition with a very respectable 11th place finish.

I believe Molly will be a senior with the Cards this year.  She has already elevated the level of competition for UofL Diving quite a bit, and I can't wait to see what she accomplishes this year.

Shifting to another sport, incoming transfer junior Tori Dilfer is one of the setters for the Volleyball team at the WUGs.  In depth statistics are essentially unobtainable from these matches, but the US contingent fell in their first match to Itally in 3 close sets, (25-19, 25-22, 25-23).  The next day, they defeated Switzerland in 3 straight sets (25-17, 25-15, 25-16), and are, at the time of this writing, locked in a struggle with Japan, currently trailing 2-0 (25-15, 25-18, 2-2).

Tori will hit the court as a Cardinal in public competition for the first time on August 17th at 6 p.m. in the Red and Black Scrimmage.  The first official match for Dilfer with the Cards will be a week later, August 24th at 3pm against Miami of Ohio.

Women's World Cup

The Championship game of the Women's World Cup kicks off at 11 a.m. this morning.  There is no Cardinal rooting interest in this one, but this is a major event with women's sports and I wanted to highlight a couple of aspects of it.

There has been some public commentary, let's just put it that way, about these women and their role and message and how comport themselves on the International Stage.

These women are competing at the very highest level of their sport, reaching the championship match of the most prestigious event in their sport, and yet they are still having to fight for the most basic of respect from much of the public.  There is progress being made, don't get me wrong, they have more respect from the public than ever before, but just in this event they have had to weather idiotic comments about their goal celebrations being too exuberant...but soccer playing men are oh so restrained in their celebrations?!  They've continued to fight, both in the press and in the courtroom for something approaching equal pay for the men while, for the past 3 years, generating more revenue for the US Soccer Federation than the men.

FIFA made a big show, in October of 2018 of doubling the prize money for this year's WWC, and they just announced that it will be doubled again for the 2023 WWC, but let's look at those numbers.  The prize money for this year's WWC is a total of 30 million dollars, mean the increase from this year's WWC, is also 30 million.  The men's World Cup prize in 2018 was 400 million dollars, and in 2022 it will be 440 million, and increase of 40 million.  The pay gap is, in absolute terms, getting worse.  Will FIFA continue to double the WWC prize money in years to come?  I hope so, because that will result in the women's prize money coming into line with the men over time.  This is already an overdue change, and by the time doublings will resolve this it will be egregiously overdue, but if the trend continues it will eventually result in the correction

Meanwhile, in the US Soccer Federation, women make a fraction of what the men make, receive a fraction of the bonus money for the same accomplishments on top of a fraction of their base salary.

OK, so we have a long way to go, but I do want to take a moment to highlight a moment, that I think shows how far things have come, and I think may have been a spark for a subtle social change.

Almost exactly 2 decades ago, July 10th, 1999, the US and China were competing in the finals of the Women's World Cup, in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.  After 120 minutes of playing time, the teams remained scoreless and the game was to be decided on penalty kicks.  After 4 rounds of PKs, there had been only 1 save, by the US GK Briana Scurry, leaving the score at 4-3 in the US's favor.  China had the first kick and scored on their 5th kick, tieing the score at 4.  If the US player scored on the 5th kick, the US wins the game, and the World pressure.  If you remember the event, the name alone will surely remind you of the outcome, and the moment.  The US left back would take the kick, Brandi Chastain.

You remember, right?  She puts the kick in the bottom right corner of the net and in an emotional and impulsive celebration, fell to her knees and ripped her jersey off roaring in celebration.  The rest of the team rushes to embrace her and surround her, but for a good 10 to 12 seconds Chastain was alone on the field in her black sports bra.

Its an iconic moment, certainly one that I will never forget, and I think that it was a spark that led to a change in the way our society generally, though still with odious exceptions, relates to women in sports, and particularly to the presence of visually athletic women.

In 1999, a visible sports bra was a social faux pas that gave sports opinion columnists full employment for months, meanwhile, in most places in the US, today in 2019, it's not uncommon to see a woman out for an evening run in jogging shorts and effectively a sports bra during summer months.

I make the claim that Chastain, at least in this country, jump started the conversation.  That conversation has led, in my opinion, to a much more healthy approach to women's athleticism in this country.

Yes, we've still got a long way to go, I still regularly see people complain about the WNBA, or other top level women's sports about it being "unwatchable", and when pressed are unable to give any reason other than, "it just is," or "it's not as athletic as the men's game."

We'll get there, I think, but it may take a long time, but thank you to Brandi Chastain, even if her actions were totally impulsive as she has claimed in interviews, I think your iconic moment has lead to a sea change for the better in this country.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

Summer activities have thinned the ranks of the in-studio personnel for Cardinal Couple, with only Paulie and I being in the studio yesterday, but the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour continues on.  Basketball, Softball, and more were on the discussion menu, and, I think, a really fun quiz.

Check it out at Facebook:

Curtis already chimed in with his respectable score of 60 on the quiz.  I matched Paulie's over/under with a 70, see if you can do better.



  1. The WNBA needs better sponsorship ,so the league can expand and add more team's NMHO.More teams more players.

    1. That and salary increases. Which probably goes hand-in-hand with better sponsorship. Look at the ridiculous amount of $$$$$ journeymen NBA players are making and then look at the salary cap for AN ENITRE WNBA TEAM -- less tha $1 million dollars.

      That's the crux of the issue.



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