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There is No I in Team USA

In the world of sports, anytime a team or individual puts USA across their chest, I become an instant fan. It could be badminton, curling or some sport I didn’t even know about prior to watching the Olympics. I know I’m not alone; probably 98% of Americans feel the same way.

One of the great things about sports in our Country is you can root for any team. Just think of the number of Notre Dame football fans in our area, and all the different teams you see represented on hats and shirts from the NFL or MLB. Just because you live in central Pennsylvania doesn’t mean you’re tied to the Phillies or Pirates. If you want to wear a St. Louis Blues NHL Championship hat, no problem other than we all know Philadelphia Flyers fans are a little phanatical.

This all changes from sea to shining sea when those letters USA appear. There’s simply no choice to be made on who to root for. Americans are united by red, white and blue, and every prejudice is thrown out the window. National pride and support of our competitors take center stage.

So a tip of my USA Baseball cap to the Woman’s World Cup champion — the United States ladies soccer team. Why a USA Baseball cap, I simply don’t have a USA Soccer hat. The team’s play was outstanding, especially on the defensive end. Which most of those big soccer media types completely overlooked. Alyssa Naeher was terrific in goal. The young lady played her college soccer at Penn State.

As I watched the journey of our US Women’s Soccer Team unfold, I can’t tell you how many times I shook my head in disgust. When you’re competing with that USA across your chest, you are representing our Nation and every American that is standing behind you. It’s not a world stage for a personal agenda or to have a running gun battle with our President. It is about Team USA, not team me. I was not a big fan of President Obama’s politics; however, if invited to the White House, I would have been there with my best suit and bells on. I would have shown him the complete respect he deserved as President.

The World Cup is a World Stage to set the ultimate example of love and respect for our great Nation. It’s the opportunity to show every little girl across America how to win with honor and respect of your opponent, how rule number one of every sport should be to behave like a lady or gentleman.

Megan Rapinoe is a terrifically talented soccer player. But she has no business with USA across her chest. And please, this has absolutely nothing to do with her sexual preference. I could not care less what her beliefs are; all I want is for her to play hard, play with dignity, and honor those three letters on her jersey.

Rapinoe, age 34, is in the twilight of her career. She constantly put self ahead of the team. To the point that she was a definite distraction. She did not play in the semifinals due to injury, and the team had no problem winning against a much better opponent than they faced in the championship.

She should have set the example of what it is to represent the United States of America on the world stage for future Team USA players. Her looking down her nose at the President of the United States was disgraceful. Along with her necessity to drop the F-bomb during every interview. I could go on about her antics and actions, but there’s just no sense.

Next up, this whole equal pay embarrassment. As you’re celebrating winning the World Cup representing the United States of America, there is absolutely no place for this. You’re getting paid good money to play a game with USA across your chest. Do your job, bring back a gold medal, and celebrate with the Nation you represent. It is also reprehensible for the head coach and management of US Women’s Soccer to allow this to go on.

Even worse than the actions of the women may have been the USA fans in the stands. At a time when they should be chanting USA! USA! USA!, they are chanting equal pay. It absolutely makes my blood boil to even write about.

Instead of showcasing everything that is great about our Nation, the USA Women’s Soccer team and those fans missed an open shot on goal.

They had the greatest opportunity, on the grandest stage to advance the sport of women’s soccer to a whole new level. Let me tell you how the world of sports works, everything is driven by numbers — as in follow the dollar signs. Where you could have really built your fan base and united Americans from every walk of life, you divided. You could have been the example of doing everything right and raising the bar for the future. Instead, you took Americans that hardly ever watch soccer and just want to cheer USA, USA, USA, and chased them away.

Now back to that raise you were looking for, that you publicly negotiated while under current contract. The base salary for the Men’s Soccer Team is $263,200 per player. Our All American Ladies, who have won four World Cups, compared to zero by the men, have a base salary of $99,000. USA Soccer governs over both. Revenue earned and raised by the USA Men $50.8 million, USA Women $49.9 million prior to the World Cup. It all goes into the USA Soccer till.

Now here’s the rest of the story through base, winning, incentives and endorsement every lady on the USA Soccer team earned over $250,000. Far more than their male counterparts. They are the highest-paid women’s World Cup team in the world. And they should be. This makes their political statement over equal pay even more unconscionable.

Here’s an idea, average out the base pay for a USA Soccer player to $175,000, man or woman. Then combine all winnings and extra revenue into a Team USA incentive account shared by both teams. Now that’s gender equality.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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