To preserve this blog’s political angle without taking my eye off what really matters, which is yelling “USA!” loudly and repeatedly, I’ll point out that success in women’s sports has at least as much to do with the degree of female empowerment within the participating countries as it does with any country’s overall passion for a sport.
It’s far from a perfect relationship, but this is how Sweden becomes a women’s soccer powerhouse while their men’s team is ranked a middling 19th. Meanwhile, men’s world champion Spain didn’t qualify for the women’s tournament. For the US, the proximate reason for the team’s history of success has to do with the players’ individual commitment, but Title IX and a general societal commitment to women’s sports is what afforded them an opportunity to hone their talent.
Fittingly, one of ESPN’s color commentators, former national team player Julie Foudy, once served on a commission in which she filed a minority report dissenting from the Bush administration’s (ultimately unimplemented) plan to gut Title IX.