Sports

A Quintessential American Moment

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USA's striker Abby Wambach (L) celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out during the quarter-final match of the FIFA women's football World Cup Brazil vs USA on July 10, 2011 in Dresden, eastern Germany. USA won the match after a penalty shoot-out. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

USA’s striker Abby Wambach (L) celebrates winning the penalty shoot-out during the quarter-final match of the FIFA women’s football World Cup Brazil vs USA on July 10, 2011 in Dresden, eastern Germany. USA won the match after a penalty shoot-out. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

I realize that I am a member of a distinct minority in this country. I enjoy watching women’s soccer.

And because I do, I witnessed one of the most quintessential American stories ever told on an athletic field, and a very big reason why amateur sports beat commercial professional sports every time.

If you missed it, and sadly, odds are that you did, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team competed against Brazil in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday. Over two and a half hours, the U.S. team showed heart, integrity and everything that is right about non-commercial sports.

Allow me to provide a little background, and a few more details.

The U.S. and the Brazilian team were both pre-tournament favorites to end up in the finals. Although facing each other in the quarterfinals, this matchup would have been more natural in the finals.

CBSSports.com: U.S. reaches Cup semis with stunning victory over Brazil

The game started with the Americans scoring one of the fastest goals in World Cup history, two minutes into the game, and ended with the Americans scoring the latest goal in overtime in World Cup history.

In between those goals, the U.S. was victimized by near criminal refereeing granting Brazil two goals, and robbing the U.S. team of one it’s 11 players for nearly half of the game.

Without getting into detailed soccer rules and terminology, I can still tell you how this game should become the model of American spirit and drive.

First of all, in the face of pressure and expectations, the U.S. team performed well and right from the start. But you don’t really learn much about somebody until they face adversity. That came later for the U.S. team.

118802169 A Quintessential American Moment

USA's goalkeeper Hope Solo saves a penalty kick shot by Brazil's defender Daiane (L) during the quarter-final match of the FIFA women's football World Cup Brazil vs USA on July 10, 2011 in Dresden, eastern Germany. The USA won the match after a penalty shoot-out. (Photo credit should read ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)

A questionable call lead to an unjustified loss of a team member from the field and a second questionable call lead to a tie game. It would have been very easy for the Americans to have spent the rest of game feeling sorry for themselves. They were the victims of two injustices, given a significant handicap and had the momentum of the game robbed from them.

How often has that same scenario begun classic American stories? Whether it’s in sports, war history, social movements or personal achievements, those kinds of odds stacked up against us are what make American stories great.

With the appropriate adversity stacked up against them, all that was missing was the necessary last minute drama. As usual, the Americans delivered.

Down a goal with mere seconds left in overtime, the U.S. team evened the score, and guaranteed a shootout to determine a winner. The shootout was again pressure packed, but the Americans prevailed, actively taking the victory, having nothing handed to them.

The details of the game play out like the emotional journey of any good American story. That much is obvious.

But a more subtle point that struck me while I witnessed history was how this story wouldn’t be possible in commercial sports, especially sports currently considering lockouts and how to divvy up billions of dollars.

Commercial professional sports have no national pride at stake, no unification against a common enemy and no way to celebrate a win that doesn’t include a big fat payday for someone.

I know not everyone is a fan of women’s soccer, and I also know the 4th of July has passed. But if you are looking for something that shows everything that is right with this country and our collective story, find a copy of this game and watch it.

It will make you proud to be an American, trust me.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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