It’s About the Celebration, not Gender

As the sporting landscape continues to evolve and grow, and female players and teams get more attention — as they should — I hope those players and coaches understand that criticism isn’t sexist.

The Women’s World Cup of Soccer kicked off in France this past weekend. For the first time, the tournament has expanded from 16 countries to 24. That is great. The women’s game is growing globally and having more countries involved will have more young girls striving and dreaming about playing for their country. It is great to see young girls have more female sporting heroes to look up to.

Yesterday the #1 ranked United States clobbered Thailand 13-0. The Americans are a juggernaut. They are very good and a blowout was expected. I have no issue with them scoring 13 goals. Thailand knew it would be a tough game, but you don’t get better unless you play better competition.

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I think it is unfair to ask the USA to not try their best, or hold back, and not dominate Thailand. The American women worked equally hard to get to the World Cup. They spent hours practicing, watching video and sacrificing their family and social lives, among other things. That is the reality of trying to be the best in your sport.

So when they are on the biggest stage in women’s soccer, I wouldn’t expect them to not try their best. In fact, if they didn’t I think it would be a disservice to themselves and their opposition.

My only issue was the needless, excessive post-goal celebrations.

Here is 33-year-old veteran Megan Rapinoe after she made it 9-0 in the 78th minute of play. She is the captain of the team. She has won the World Cup before.

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Had she did a fist pump, or hugged a teammate because she was excited — okay. But this was way over the top. It was horrible sportsmanship.

But former American star Abby Wambach decided the critiques were sexist.

Abby, I’m sorry, but I didn’t see many complaining about the score. It was about the celebrations. Also, if you think men have never been criticized for overzealous celebrations you are grossly mistaken.

It is disappointing you tried to use the gender card. If your frustration stems from women receiving lower pay than the men, then let’s talk about that, because that is a worthwhile discussion. But don’t conflate criticism with equality. The two are very different issues.

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This was about a terrible celebration. That’s it. Nothing more.

Also, I could understand if one of the women got really excited after scoring her first World Cup goal, regardless of the score of the game, but Rapinoe isn’t a rookie and it wasn’t her first goal. She has 44 International goals.

This is how sports works. Adulation is part of it, but at times, so it criticism.

You can’t have one without the other. If you want to be noticed for your great sporting achievements, as all women should, then you have to understand that when a team shows bad sportsmanship, people will call them on it.

It isn’t a gender-based complaint.

The irony is that one of the most memorable World Cup celebrations occurred in 1999 when Brandi Chastain scored the winning goal for USA to win the World Cup. She was applauded for it, and rightfully so.

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The difference between Rapinoe’s celebration and Chastain’s in ’99, is obvious. The importance of the goals isn’t comparable.

The women’s team went overboard in their celebrations against Thailand, and are receiving criticism for it — just like male athletes do.

To Abby and others: this isn’t about gender, it is about sportsmanship.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Synthesis

    When its all said and done. This issue will be one of the most publicized and traffic generating sequences of the entire event.
    Butt hurt is the new self validation.

    Its totally not about gender but to a person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Abby’s hammer is what it is. Tired, misdirected and ever present.

  • BobbyCanuck

    This is why the term ‘Ugly American’ was coined, see it all over the world, USA USA USA USA, yeah yeah we get it, you live in the greatest country in the history of the world, now quit telling us what our value system should look like

  • Harry2

    Its pretty embarrassing that anyone tries to defend such poor sportsmanship. The fact that someone throws in the gender card turns it from embarrassing to a joke.

  • slats432

    It isn’t man or woman or running up the score. It is poor form athletes belittling their opponent. It isn’t even nationalist. Here is the US men’s team dismantling Korea last year at IIHF. Barely an arm raise on the last few goals. Run up the score, but after 5, a fist bump and line up. Those women were disrespectful for certain.

  • It was only a regular season game, but we all remember the uproar when Yak did his knee slide to tie the game with under 10 seconds left in the game vs LA. This is in a CLOSE game… to tie it up with a buzzer beater. That game was quite tense too. I was at that one, and fans were livid up until then.. the Oilers were playing really well, and the refs were awful. So the whole arena went nuts when he scored. If it was 9-0 and Yak did the knee slide, I would have been on board with piling on with the criticism. It’s definitely not a gender thing. It’s all about respecting your opponent, especially one that is likely quite humble.

    I have to admit, I like some goal celly’s, but only as long as it’s respectful of your opponent. This is the American juggernaut team destroying a nobody team.. a 9-0 goal celebration.. and a celebration that was absolutely, ridiculously over-the-top. I hated it, and I don’t care if it’s a man or woman doing it.. you should be ashamed of yourself for doing it, IMO. If a teammate did that, I’d probably drop kick him before he made it a few feet down the field.

  • HOCKEY83

    no matter what team or what sport when given the chance the score should always be ran up…celebrations should follow. Make the opposing team members feels like they never want to play the game again.

    • crabman

      I agree you play your best start to finish in any competition but there is such thing as sportsmanship. Win with grace and lose with grace. Act like you’ve been there before instead of acting like a fool.

    • 99CupsofCoffey

      So you would rather Hockey teams do the full fist-bump on the bench when they score already up 8-1? Which they don’t do, just because of what Gregor is pointing out. Classless.

        • 99CupsofCoffey

          I love seeing teams annihilating each other too, but going nuts when you’re up by 10 is just childish and stupid. And it makes you look like a fool.

          • HOCKEY83

            One of my favorite games was when the Flames beat the Sharks 13-1 and they cheered after every goal…it was a thing of BEAuty. The entire sharks team looked like they wanted to kill themselves….loved it

  • CityofWhat

    They called some Raptors fans classless for cheering K.D injury which I think for few seconds didn’t realize the situation but what the U.S woman team did was beyond classless, it was a disgrace. This does not surprise me from the Americans.

  • Drinking my Oilers problems away...

    This speaks volumes about the USA women’s team leadership but this isn’t surprising, there’s a reason why Americans are hated everywhere in the world.. Abby Wambach can kick rocks.

    I’m shocked Hope Solo of all people called them out for the excessive celebrations which is weird considering she’s one of the biggest scum bags to come out of any USA program.

  • crabman

    great article and spot on. No one would ever ask a team to not do their best but win with some grace and show some respect to the game and your opponent. I’m all for a big celebration on a meaningful goal. Sports is about passion but in a runaway game there is no need and no room for acting like this.
    And for anyone to label the criticism as sexist, that person is doing more harm than good for the equality of women in sports.

  • North Van Halen

    Sure this is about gender…Could you just imagine Team Canada’s hockey team at the Olympics playing Thailand and Brad Marchand riding his stick for the 9 – 0 goal and Steven Stamkos counting his 5 goals on his hand. Maybe for 11 – 0 Sydney Crosby could throw his glove in the air and shoot it ala Teemu Selanne. The world would lose it’s frickin mind.
    It’s just a dumb statement made to divert from the reality it was as classless as classless gets.

  • GRC

    Well said Jason.
    I applaud you for pushing back on the narrative that if you criticize a womens sport or event (especially if you are a man) then it must be gender driven.
    If this is really about equality then justifiable criticism can be equally applied.

    • GRC

      In this case criticism is completely justified. Those celebrations were pure arrogance and accomplished nothing more than to rub the score into the oppositions faces.
      Despicable display of sportsmanship IMO.

  • Yeah a real black eye on a world class tourney trying to grow. I feel for Thailand that are probably wanting this to go away but it is “trending “ and won’t go.

    Almost as embarrassing as having a Europe team in a World Cup and saying that we are trying to grow hockey. Saying Conner hasn’t worn the maple leaf as an adult on a best on best Tourney is a joke.

  • Yeah a real black eye on a world class tourney trying to grow. I feel for Thailand that are probably wanting this to go away but it is “trending “ and won’t go.

    Almost as embarrassing as having a Europe team in a World Cup and saying that we are trying to grow hockey. Saying Conner hasn’t worn the maple leaf as an adult on a best on best Tourney is a joke. NHL is scared.

  • As a big fan of soccer this was a black eye on trying to grow a sport .

    On a different note I was also embarrassed that Conner has not worn the Red and white as an adult in a best on best tourney. NHL say they want to grow the game but have a Team Europe in a World Cup because of revenue. The pros should play internationally way more often.

  • YFC Prez

    Here’s some honest criticism. If you guys are going to have a post like this in a hockey blog and wish to have real discussion about it. you really need to open up the censors a little bit. You’ve got some strange things that don’t pass the firewall. Many of the words you used in this article we can’t post. Makes discussion very difficult.

    That is all. Now notice how no one plays any cards after reading that criticism^, because we’re level headed people (most of us)

    • Kevwan

      Some more honest criticism?

      On a day where the Oilers re-sign their AHL coach, 9 days until a top 8 draft pick and 13 days until the FA interview period and this is what Gregor writes about?

      3 1/2 hours before puck drop of a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals and we get this drivel about celebrations in Women’s Soccer?

      Sportsmanship questions about a sport where faking injury to get a call is part of the history and culture of the game? Who cares? Both TSN and Sportsnet are reporting this.

      If Oilersnation is going to become “Whatever’s on Gregors mind Nation” let me know. I’ll get my Oilers news elsewhere.

  • FISTO Siltanen


    As fittingly American as Serena Williams berating the umpire in the French Open (?) and then saying she was doing it for women’s rights.

    I’ll be suspending my sports channels end of this month (save money – wait till hockey season) but I loathe seeing that new Nike commercial narrated by her. I’ll change the channel when it comes on.

  • corky

    The cdn worlds jr team has been accused of this also. And Cherry predicted the hockey gods would repay them. And they did this past tourney. Hopefully this happens to the us womens team

  • CaliforniaOil

    I feel this isn’t really a sportsmanship, gender, or cultural issue. This just comes down to the idea that we as amateurs, and fans have different expectation when it comes to sportsmanship than professionals players do. For these women it was acceptable for them to do that and that’s fine, do I feel bad for Thailand? Of course to be smashed like that for 90 plus minutes must be excruciating, but if the score was flipped and Thailand celebrated the same way we would think it is great and that such a blow out for the Thai would be well deserved. Mr. Gregor says it himself the USA worked hard did their video and homework before stepping on that field. They are entitled to celebrate anyway they want. How many teams have scored 10+ in a world cup game? How many have score 7+ ? Germany showed no remorse in clobbering Brazil 7-1 IN BRAZIL and we hailed them for it as a truly Herculean effort. We should be impressed by what these women did and have excitement for what they could achieve. Until the final where they lose to Canada 100-0

  • Derzie

    There good and bad people in every country. What makes the US different is that they work to produce behaviour like this. From birth, they preach patriotism, the flag, war and superiority. Their citizens are basically groomed to soldiers, with or without a uniform. Schools have them memorize presidents rather than learn anything about the world outside of the Union. People living in US border towns don’t even know what province is on the other side. No need to. It’s not America.

    “Greatest Country in the World”. “Leader of the Free World”. “Live Free or Die”. “World Series”. NBA “World Championship”. “Winning is everything.”

    So when we see this display of poor sportsmanship, I truly believe that they don’t even know what people are referring to. They measure their worth by wins and defeats of the enemy. The US spends more on their military than most of the rest of the world spend on everything else. They just don’t get it when it comes to collaboration and respect.

    Again, there are examples of bullish people like this in Canada as well as there are great people in the US. It’s just that the balance in each country is very different.

    Gender? No, upbringing.

  • Ryan68

    Why should women’s sport get more attention? They aren’t as good as men at any sport, but we should watch? Isn’t that rather condescending? The Australian women’s national soccer team couldn’t beat a team of 15 year old boys, but I should watch? This is just more SJW b.s. The greatest female hockey player of all time could hang in at the tier two level, in Germany, but she deserves as much attention as say…Connor McDavid? If women want to play, all the power to them, just don’t expect a lot of people to watch or pay money to see it.

  • hockeyartist

    On thing Thai culture really does not like is losing face, and the Americans made them lose the game and lose face. Really no reason for it other than an abundance of arrogance on the part of the American womens team. Usually karma comes back on these kind of teams in the form of elimination.