The Biggest Victory For The USWNT Is Happening Off The Field
This Friday, following their resounding World Cup final win over Japan, the United States women's national team will follow in the footsteps of the myriad athletes, entertainers and politicians who have walked through New York City's Canyon of Heroes before them.
This is a historic event.
The last time the Big Apple bestowed the honor of a ticker-tape parade on a group of national athletes came in 1984, when the US' Olympic medalists were recognized following the Los Angeles Summer Games.
The latest edition, which commences at 11 am in lower Manhattan, will reportedly cost the city $2 million, though there will be partial compensation through $450,000 in corporate sponsorship deals.
God bless America, right?
But can you really put a price on celebrating one of the greatest feats in sports history, anyway?
With the USWNT's victory last Sunday, America became the first country to win three Women's World Cup titles.
And when you get down to it, this is really a two-for-one deal.
Friday's parade isn't just the celebration of an achievement, it signals the United States taking the next step in celebrating not just female athletes, but women in general.
Sunday's Women's World Cup final set the record as the most-watched soccer match in US history, and it drew more views than this year's NBA and Stanley Cup finals.
W/ 25.4 million viewers, Women's World Cup final was most-watched soccer match in U.S. history http://t.co/lnUKVHWogt pic.twitter.com/95ded4kUTH — The Oregonian (@Oregonian) July 7, 2015
But on Friday, thousands will turn up, and millions will tune in, simply to watch the US women's national team take a victory lap down one of the nation's busiest streets.
Not a single Carli Lloyd shot will be taken, and there will be no sprawling saves from Hope Solo; what you will see is a special group of women receiving an honor that, for the most part, has previously been reserved for men.
This is a historic event.
All 23 members of the US team who traveled to Canada will be in attendance on Friday, and all will receive keys to the city.
ABC's Robin Roberts will act as the mistress of ceremonies, and City Hall will be the backdrop for the first NYC ticker-tape parade since another football team, the New York Giants, defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.
Some New Yorkers will gripe about the tax dollars and the traffic, which is sure to be at peak sh*ttiness, but too bad.
The US, along with the other 23 teams in the tournament, had to deal with playing on turf fields, staying in the same hotel as their opponents and undergoing the degrading act of gender verification testing -- thanks, FIFA.
FIFA's own website referred to US star Alex Morgan as "a talented goalscorer with a style that is very easy on the eye and good looks to match."
Then -- because this tournament just had to have a bittersweet ending -- it quickly became international news that the US women's team would receive a paltry $2 million in prize money for winning the World Cup.
By comparison, the German men's team made $35 million for winning the 2014 tournament, and every men's team that competed last summer made at least $8 million just for being in the draw.
I've heard the arguments that explain why — based on the revenue generated by the Women's World Cup, the $2 million prize is actually on equal footing with the $35 million men's payout — but if I may, FOH.
I understand women's soccer generates less revenue, but FIFA, being the very unique (and very rich) organization it is, could easily chose to really kickstart the women's game by adding some prize money into the Women's World Cup pot, at least in the short term.
Additionally, the responsibility to generate more revenue and secure key sponsorship deals for the women's game, both at the international and club levels, should be shared by FIFA.
I think Hope Solo would agree.
Could not agree more! pic.twitter.com/tP9LT0IQGh — Hope Solo (@hopesolo) July 7, 2015
Still, though, this is a historic event.
According to Mayor Bill DeBlasio's office, the last time a ticker-tape parade was held to honor a woman was in 1960, when Olympic figure skater Carol Heiss was celebrated.
And since the inaugural ticker-tape parade in 1886, which was held to recognize the dedication of Lady Liberty, more than 95 percent of the 205 ticker-tape parades since have been held to glorify men.
Nelson Mandela, a crew from a nuclear submarine, the Staten Island Little League champs, John Glenn and the space shuttle Discovery crew and a former NYC mayor, who resigned amidst corruption allegations, have all passed through The Canyon of Heroes, but women have found the path far less navigable.
US forward Abby Wambach, who at 35, has likely played in her last World Cup, understands just how momentous Friday's parade will be.
Looks like we now are headed to NYC!! Very humbled by this... #thecelebrationcontinues https://t.co/kqo9sOmF3U — Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) July 7, 2015
It's fitting the last group of national athletes honored by the city were the medalists of the '84 Summer Olympics; because one of the torch carriers at the start of those games was Caitlyn Jenner.
Change is happening all around us.
Transgender athletes are finally owning who they are, an antiquated flag is finally taking its rightful place in history and a group of female soccer players are being properly celebrated as the national heroes and trailblazers that they are.
Citations: Womenu2019s Soccer Team Will Get Rare Ticker-Tape Parade in Manhattan (New York Times), For Soccer Teamu2019s Parade, a Whirlwind of High-Level Activity in City Hall (New York Times), USWNT INSPIRE RARE EVENT: A TICKER-TAPE PARADE FOR WOMEN IN NEW YORK CITY (VICE)