Lessons From…Women’s World Cup Final 2015

Did you watch the incredible FIFA Women’s World Cup final match between USA and Japan? If not, what the hell were you doing with your Sunday afternoon? Seriously? Just check out the highlights:

It really was just a great game even if it was a bit one sided. Even so, the game had a few interesting tidbits of knowledge to pass on. The SPOILERS warning seems redundant if you saw the clip above, but I would recommend watching the game in its entirety whenever you have the chance.

C'mon, I couldn't resist using this.

C’mon, I couldn’t resist using this.

Lesson one: sometimes Revenge is more satisfying and worthwhile than Redemption. While this lesson might be petty and small minded, it doesn’t make it any less true. Four years ago, the U.S. Women’s National team lost to the Japanese Women’s National team in penalty shots to lose the World Cup title. It was a devastating loss that every single player on the U.S. team remembered. Coming in to final match in Montreal was their chance to right a wrong that stung for years and right it they did. From the onset, the players were out for blood and demonstrated their resolve with every single possession.

Their performance wasn’t about redemption; it was a clear message to every single country and player of the unquestionable dominance of the U.S. team. They wanted an absolute victory and to make Japan hurt a little. They did that and then some while also managing to break and set several records in the process. So, yeah sportsmanship and plans and good games, but every once in awhile it really pays to just go all out and try to destroy your opponent.

These are the faces of shock, awe, and devastation.

These are the faces of shock, awe, and devastation.

If you have kept up with the Women’s National team this World Cup, undoubtedly you have heard of Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, and Sydney Leroux. They are among the stars of the team and, in many ways, the entire women’s league. However, looking at the final match, you’ll notice their names do not appear on the scoreboard or rarely at all during the entire series. Make no mistake; they really are, unquestionably, among the best players currently playing the sport. Everyone else on the pitch knows this so whenever they got the ball, they were swarmed to ensure they could not make the most of the opportunity. This focus on these few players allowed for the rest of the team, amazing athletes in their own right, to score. Great players, like any great individuals, focus on the good of the group and the eventual outcome and not their own glory. It’s like the old sports adage “Stars win games. Teams win championships.”

While most fans, and opponents, were looking to Alex Morgan to lead this team, another player decided to turn in a record shattering performance. Carli Lloyd managed a hat trick (scoring 3 goals) in roughly 14 minutes of playtime. If that sounds like gibberish to you, basically she decided to go into beast mode, break a FIFA record, and obliterate the Japanese defense. She single-handedly delivered a victory for the U.S. against Japan’s two goals; granted Lauren Holliday and Tobin Heath helped ensure a win, but even without them, U.S. would have won solely on the feet of Lloyd. Which brings us to the last lesson: when someone steps up and performs. you put aside ego and desire and back their play. In sports talk, this is known as playing to the hot hand. In more layman’s terms, if someone is having their “one good day” then you step aside, support them, and let them make the score, the play, or the win. Doing anything else is essentially selfish foolery.

This is what beast mode looks like.

This is what beast mode looks like.

Thus endeth today’s lessons.

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Lessons From…Japan vs Cameroon WWC Match

No, you did not misread that title. Yes, I do watch sports. Yes, including sporting events played by female teams. Why wouldn’t I? There aren’t any SPOILERS warning for this one since the match already happened and the image above kind of gives away the ending already.

However, the full match was still rather interesting since it was basically a series of the classic match ups: underdog vs champion, newcomer vs veteran, strength/speed vs experience, Cameroon vs Japan. Ultimately, the result was what was expected, with Japan obtaining victory, but you also see the tenacity, heart, and potential of the Cameroon team. It’s like the first Rocky where there was dignity in simply competing even without the win.

Beyond the impressive athletic performance, the lesson here is simple and twofold: Experience and skill will trump effort 99 out of 100 times. That being said, you can never discount the tenacity and potential of youth and desire. And in those rare and incredible occasions when you can get the enthusiasm, strength, and power of youthful potential tempered by experience, well then you are fucking unstoppable.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.