It’s Wrong to Criticize the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team for Celebrating

Samantha Mewis of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team celebrates scoring their fourth goal with team mates in Reims, France – June 11, 2019. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)
These women have had to work, train, and sacrifice to pull off the kind of performance that they did on Tuesday.

The United States women’s national soccer team is facing criticism for allegedly celebrating too hard when it beat Thailand 13–0 in the opening round of World Cup play on Tuesday — and that’s stupid.

Yes — the team’s celebratory behavior, such as dancing and smiling, was actually offensive for some people on Twitter:

The truth is, absolutely no one should be criticizing these women for celebrating their accomplishments — especially since those accomplishments were history-making. That’s right: According to an article in Today, the team won the game by the largest margin of any World Cup game ever (women’s or men’s), and they had absolutely every right to display just how excited they were about it.

Now, I’m obviously not saying that there’s nothing to be said for good sportsmanship. There is, and if these women had been doing something that had clearly violated those standards (such as chanting “You suck!” at the other team), then I would certainly understand why people might be upset about how they were handling their success. This, however, was not the case. These women weren’t doing anything to tear anyone else down, they were simply doing things to build themselves up — and, in a world where there is so much sadness, we shouldn’t be criticizing hardworking women from expressing joy because they’re seeing that hard work pay off.

Life, after all, is hard. Some days, your credit card falls out of your pocket at the beginning of your beach day and you have no way to pay for any corn dogs or frozen margaritas after you had just spent your hours-long journey on the train thinking about them. (Just me?) Some days, you wake up looking like Jeff Daniels’s character in Dumb and Dumber. (Just me?) Other days, you get sick and still have to go to work. (I know this one is not just me.) What’s more, I am pretty sure that being a professional athlete isn’t easy, either. To be fair, I don’t have the kind of experience that would let me know for sure one way or the other. However, based on how much I struggle just to do 20 minutes on the elliptical machine on the lowest resistance setting three times a week, I’m making a fairly informed guess that it can’t be easy. Make no mistake: These women have had to work, train, and sacrifice to pull off the kind of performance that they did on Tuesday, and absolutely no one should be telling them that they don’t deserve to celebrate it as enthusiastically as they choose.

Yes, these women celebrated hard. . . and they should have. Their accomplishment, after all, was monumental, and I am not afraid to admit that I myself have celebrated things that were much less significant. One time, I danced around my hotel room because I had finally successfully applied false eyelashes on myself. (Sure, I was never able to actually ever do that successfully ever again, but in that moment, I was damn proud.) Another time, I bought myself a fancy pair of shoes because I had successfully turned 30, even though that’s something that most people seem to manage to be able to do. And guess what? There was nothing wrong with any of that. Life would be miserable if we never celebrated the little things — and criticizing a group of women for celebrating something big is just plain egregious.