Reasons to watch the Women's World Cup final tomorrow - USA vs. Japan
1. Women's World Cup soccer is better than men's. I know, some of you are go on about speed and skills and other subjective nonsense. I happen to think the women play just as well as the men, but that's kind of beside the point. I actually enjoy children's soccer more than professional men's soccer, and half the time kids forget which goal they're kicking towards. I don't give a dang about skills. The important thing is that the result is honest. The primary reason I, and most North Americans, can't get into soccer is diving. When you grow up watching hockey and football, both of which have instant replay, and then you see two grown men bonk arms and fall to the ground screaming as if their elbows have been bitten by Doberman Pinschers and immersed in a bucket of salt, it's not just frustrating, it's pathetic.
Fortunately, for the time being at least, women dive less than men (here's a second study from Germany with similar results). This means that the game moves faster and is less reliant on always-questionable refereeing. And diving was dealt perhaps the sweetest, most cosmically-just own-petard-hoisted blow ever when the US tying goal against Brazil came during stoppage time awarded to compensate for a Brazil dive.
Reason 1b why the Women's World Cup is better: have you ever heard of a men's team blaming poor performance on the team bus getting struck by lightning, and then a failed drug test on traditional medicine to treat said lightning strike made out of musk deer glands? Oh, North Korea. You're the only country in the world weirder than South Korea.
Reason 2: Both teams in the final are awesome. On the one hand, the USA could win. For most of us, that's the home team, who could pick up an unprecedented third women's title. This is awesome. They played a great game against Brazil, simply refusing to quit. A US victory would likely mean increased US support for women's soccer, which is good for everybody, because just about everybody's national team, including Japan's, features multiple women who have played college or pro soccer in the US, where the money is. (Remember the ending of Bend it like Beckham, where they both went off to play soccer in California?) I think the future of women's soccer is heavily dependent on its popularity in the US. So let's go, USA!
On the other hand, Japan could win. Japan made it to the final thanks to incredibly scrappy play despite having only one player taller than 5'7 (beating the Germans, the home favorites and the tournament's tallest team, and the Swedes, who have have 16 over 5'7.) They're playing for Japan's recovery from the March tsunami and earthquake, and being colossally polite, brought a sign to the tournament to thank the international community for its support. If they win, they will be the first Asian team to win any World Cup - men's or women's. Plus, most of the time, I live there. So ganbatte, Japan!
Tune in tomorrow, 2:45 Eastern, because the only way to lose here is not to watch.