Thank you, U.S. Women's National Team, for every moment of the past month – up to and including Sunday's World Cup victory.
Thank you for bossing your game, voicing your principles, relishing your victories and allowing the rest of us to come along for the ride.
Thank you for showing my daughter the world will rally around, lift up and celebrate strong, proud, fierce, unapologetic, joyful, opinionated masters of their sport, who also happen to be women.
Thank you for showing her (and all of us) the world will spend millions of dollars to see them live. And host jam-packed public watch parties to cheer them on from a distance. And buy a record-setting number of their jerseys in homage.
(Now pay them, U.S. Soccer Federation.)
Thank you for showing my son that sports – his first and truest love – can bridge our differences, rather than exploit them. Sitting in the stands at football and baseball games, reading about yet another pro athlete accused of domestic violence, watching how female sports reporters are treated – it can feel like too much of sports is hostile toward women. This run has felt like the opposite. This run has felt like progress.
Thank you for two of my all-time favorite vacation memories. I've been off work for the past two weeks, packing in beach time and family time and down time. My son and I set an alarm and scrambled up the beach to our nearby lake rental to watch the U.S. beat France. (My daughter was at practice for her own sport.) For the game against England, we cheered from a hotel lobby, in the company of men and women and kids doing the same. I'll remember those games forever.
Thank you for giving the U.S. something to cheer about when there's so much to leave us hanging our heads in shame. Kids kept in dirty cages at the border, for starters.
Thank you for this Megan Rapinoe quote: "We are a great country, and there are many things that are so amazing and I feel very fortunate to be in this country. I would never be able to do this in a lot of other places. But also, that doesn't mean we can't get better. It doesn't mean we shouldn't always strive to be better."
Thank you for that Megan Rapinoe free kick in the fifth minute against France. And that one at 61 minutes against the Netherlands.
Thank you for Alex Morgan on the cover of my son's June Sports Illustrated Kids.
Thank you for head coach Jill Ellis, who has been a fearsome delight to watch.
Thank you, in fact, for a World Cup in which both teams were coached by women for only the second time since 1991. (Ellis for the U.S.; Sarina Wiegman for the Netherlands.) "There aren't enough of us in the game, in coaching," Ellis told USA Today's Nancy Armour. "Especially in the States, at every level, whether it's collegiate, whether it's our professional league, we need more women in coaching 100 percent. So I think it's a wonderful statement." Thank you for making it.
Thank you for reminding me to buy tickets to the Chicago Red Stars. (Alyssa Naeher!)
Thank you for all of it. Your victories have been yours and yours alone. But witnessing them, learning from them, celebrating them – that's been a win for all of us.
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