When you like something that doesn’t receive a lot of attention, it’s exciting to see it start popping up outside of its niche. Women’s soccer has been growing out of its box - a box constructed for it by others, it must be said - and now we have players who are legitimate cultural icons. If you saw all the Halloween posts tagging Megan Rapinoe as children and adults alike did her World Cup boss pose, then you get what it means to be seeing female players showing up in non-soccer contexts. Now we’ve got things like players having cameos on Madame Secretary and executive producing their own TV shows.
Excitement aside, there’s also the cultural creep factor. The more these players and their game seep into the general cultural consciousness, the more their existence will come to seem standard, something that exists because it just does, instead of something Other. Cultural awareness can provide strong inertia in keeping something moving forward and normalizes it not just for the average fan, but for investors as well. The more people are aware of the game and are able to casually talk about it, the easier it gets to sell it to national sponsors and networks. Plus it’s just frigging fun.
What are some areas where you’d like to see women’s soccer players show up? ABC series Stumptown is set in Portland, and one of its characters is a diehard Timbers fan. It would be nice if the Thorns got a peek in there somewhere too. I’m sure Rapinoe’s tie-in commercial for Charlie’s Angels had some fans hoping they might spot that haircut of hers bobbing around somewhere in the background. My personal dream would be to see Becky Sauerbrunn in some kind of sci-fi context, given her known appreciation for the genre. Or maybe an artist will name-check a player in the future, and in a manner slightly more flattering than when 2 Pistols shouted out Abby Wambach (have fun googling).
Where do you want to see players popping up? What do you think would be a “cultural watershed” moment if a player were to show up in that context? Let us know in the comments!