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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Is This What Men Really Want?

Written by on July 16, 2011 | 31 Comments »
Posted in General

A week or so ago after an old-timers match the boys were huddled as normal. A few refreshments were being consumed and injuries being tended to.

Some were discussing our extremely unimpressive 3-0 win, others were talking over current transfer rumors and then out of the blue a remark was made that first brought a stunned silence, and then a few seconds later nods of approval.

What was this unburdening of the conscience that made quiet the normally boisterous crowd?

It was that the Women’s World Cup was being watched and not only watched but enjoyed.

What’s more it was being given the same level of scrutiny that the lads would apply to the Premier League, international men’s games and the likes of MLS.

The countries that emphasized technique and quickness were praised and admired. Blunders were criticized, tactical changes were debated, and officials were….well, need I say more?

In addition, to a man they all felt that the lack of injury drama in the women’s games was something to be deeply admired.  In fact many wished that the men’s game could return to a time when a knock was just a knock and that perhaps male players should learn to take it like a woman rather than the fan dancers that so many had become.

Now you may have the same reaction as some in the Fox Soccer Report newsroom had. “Well isn’t that wonderful, a bunch of chauvinist old guys getting dragged into the new century.”

But to jump to that conclusion not only misunderstands the context of the praise but also how far the women’s game has come in the last two decades.

Although our league is for players on the other side of 40 we tend to be one of the older sides. A good proportion of the players are also new-Canadians.

You need to understand that at the time this group was growing up it wasn’t a case of the boys watching the girls play and thinking “aren’t they rubbish” – girls just did not play, it did not happen.

It was what made the Bill Forsyth movie called “Gregory’s Girl” that came out in the early 80s so good.

For a group like ours to come out and praise so unequivocally what they’ve been watching over the last three weeks also tells you what many men would like “their” game to once more aspire to – and isn’t that a turnaround.

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31 responses to “Is This What Men Really Want?”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    I remember watching “Gregory’s Girl” on cable a while back and often wondered what became of the uncoordinated and “odd” actor who played Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair).

    It was to my surprise and a bit unfortunate that his career took a downturn and he ended up taking a job as groundskeeper of Springfield Elementary and changing his name to Willie after the shame of proving to be much less athletic than the girl he pursued in that movie.
    http://tinyurl.com/orroy5

  2. Sarah Rudd says:

    I’m from a very different background — American born woman, playing in an over-30 co-ed league. Last week a guy was talking about how good the women were technically, how enjoyable the games were to watch because of that, and how annoyed he was that MLS is inferior to the women’s national team from a technical standpoint. It wasn’t a slight on the women, but more of a disappointment that physical strength and speed were being overvalued in MLS instead of valuing technical ability. The women are proof that you can produce technical players in the US.

  3. John Bladen says:

    Bobby; the WWC has been a revelation, hence my interest in covering it. I’ve watched past tournaments and, frankly, they were disappointing. Up until 2011, I have to say that those who claimed that ‘only three countries can actually play’ were closer to the truth than not.

    But not now. The strides a half dozen nations have made are truly remarkable. We should keep in mind also that sides like China, Denmark and Italy did not even make it out of qualifying this time. There may be a greater competitive balance in the women’s game than the mens.

    That said, the greatest thing about this tournament is not parity or closeness of competition, it is the style of play that many nations have adopted. There has been some wonderful football played at this tournament. Anyone who dismisses it as being “more of the same” from the WWC is not only wrong, they are missing fantastic football.

    Thanks.

  4. You can find more comments and analysis from Sarah at
    http://socceranalysts.com/author/sarah-rudd/

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    Sarah – We can definitely produce technical players here but a big difference is that American football which coincides with soccer season in JH/HS and other major US sports do not occupy the time and imagination of most US skilled athletic girls.

    Copa America coming up and Columbia vs Peru should be a cracker. Keep an eye on Peru’s William Chiroque who could just prove the difference in a major upset in this one.

  6. Gus Keri says:

    An upset at the Copa:

    Peru – Colombia: 2-0 AET (0-0 at full time)

    Colombia have only themselves to blame. After wasting many good opportunities including a PK by Falcao in the regular time, their goalkeeper committed two huge blunders to give Peru two goals.

  7. Erik says:

    The one thing we need to keep in mind is these are no “Ordinary” women soccer players – these are the “Best of the Best”.

    How many Men in Bobby’s group have seen ONE SECOND of a “WPS” game? I’d be willing to bet you could count on 1 hand and have plenty of fingers left over. Looking at the “crowd” for WPS games – good seats are not very hard to come by, too.

    Watching the WWC is VERY enjoyable. As has been pointed out – all the “garbage” we see in the Men’s game is gone – except for Erika’s disgraceful “injury” in the USA game – a move that actually came back to bite Brazil in their butts (and because they are Brazilian – they have very sexy butts – sexy butts of any woman from any country). We don’t see South American players look like they are moments away from Death and then “mysteriously” look Fit and Fresh 2 minutes later after their act got their opponent sent off w/a Red Card. No diving either makes it very nice.

    But let’s not kid ourselves here. When the final is over on Sunday and the few week Honeymoon is over NO ONE will care about Women’s Soccer until the 2012 Olympics – and even then only if USA does well. If Abby Wambach doesn’t get that last second goal vs Brazil the post was never made. This team is the talk of the USA because we are GOOD and WINNING! It doesn’t hurt that MLB is in the “Dog Days” – there is NOTHING going on in the NFL and the NBA and NHL are in their off-seasons. If this happened when the NCAA Mens’ Hoops Tourney was going on it would get maybe 5% of the publicity it gets now – and if not on ESPN in the USA – ditto.

    And it doesn’t hurt that the USA Goalkeeper has Model Good looks – Sex SELLS and thinking otherwise is foolish. The Women’s Game HAS come a long way and they deserve all the credit in the World for it – but let’s not go overboard here. I know times are different than 1999 – Facebook and Twitter and the like did not exist – but in 1999 that “Honeymoon” didn’t last long and we had a game between the 1991 and 2011 USA Team I make 1999 a HUGE favorite

    Having said all that I will be in front of my TV Sundy watching USA win in Regulation and enjoying every moment of the win

  8. Gus Keri says:

    Argentina vs Uruguay: at 6:15 EST

    Is there another upset in the making?

    Here are some facts about the rise of Uruguay in the last couple of years.

    In the last game in the South America qualifying to the 2010 world cup, Uruguay needed a win to go directly and send Argentina to the play off. Instead, Bolatti scored with 6 mintues left to insure Argentina go through and send Uruguay to the play off.

    Since then, Uruguay has the better of Argentina.

    In WC 2010: Uruguay got to the semifinals of the WC while Argentina exited in the quarterfianls.

    In CONMEBOL U-20: Uruguay finished second and Argentina third. The gold medal holders, Argentina, was eliminated from the 2012 Olympics by Uruguay.

    In CONMEBOL U-17: Uruguay finished second and Argentina third. And in the finals, Uruguay reached the final game while Argentina exited in the round of 16.

    In Copa Libertadores 2011: Penarol of Uruguay reached the final game after eliminating the last Argentine club, Veles Sarsfield, in the semifinals.

    So, which team do you think will win this game?

  9. Gus Keri says:

    About Women soccer, here is my opinion:

    First of all, I didn’t see new styles out there. Each team play similar style to their men’s team. It’s the culture of soccer in that country.

    Japanese women played like the Japnese men. The USWNT style is similar to the USMNT. (Bobby: I know how much you hate this abbreviation, so I wrote it twice). Brazilian women played the Brazilian style and the German, the Swedes and the French did the same like their countrymen.

    What is so different compared to previous tournaments is: experience. Now, the women have been playing international soccer for over two decades and they are getting technically and tactically better. Women are getting more opportunities to play regular top professional soccer and getting tested week in and week out.

    Also, like in men’s soccer, there are always few teams that are favorite, but the names might change from one cup to the other.

    In the 90s, The US, Norway, China and Germany were the top teams with Norway and the US dominated the tilte winners table (5 in 5). In the noughties, though, we see the US joined with Germany, Brazil and Sweden as the top teams with Germany and the US dominated the title winners table (4 of 4).

    But the gap between the top teams and the rest became smaller. No more blow outs (Except when Canada played France).

    Finally, I agree with Erik. We shouldn’t compare top women soccer (WWC) with the MLS. After watching few WPS games you can see that the gap between the men and women is still huge even in the same country (MLS vs WPS)

  10. Gus Keri says:

    Another upset at the Copa:

    Uruguay – Argentina: 1-1 (5-4 on PK)

    The star of the match is the Uruguayan goalkeeper Muslera who saved his country on many occasions and at the end it was his save against Tevez that made the difference in the PK shoot out.

    Just like in the Women World Cup, the host and the heavy favorite country leaves at the quarterfinal stage.

    The discussion of Messi’s form with the Argentine national team will start soon.

    What I believe? I think somebody had a voodoo doll of Messi, with the Argentinian shirt, pinned for curse.

  11. A win for the US tomorrow would be more worthy than the wins in 1991 and 1999 – discuss.

  12. I have just watched 3 games today and in each one the commentary has been knee deep in “he went down easily,” comments.

    There is nothing that obligates a player to stay on his or her feet when fouled. If the commentator believes the player took a dive he should have the guts to come out and say so instead of going all mealy mouthed and using weasel language.

    There are only three possibilities
    1. a foul
    2. no foul
    3. incidental contact

    Is it so hard to chose from one of the three?

  13. John Bladen says:

    Bobby:

    Yes, if the US do manage to win tomorrow it would be a more significant achievement than the 1991, 1999 wins. This would be so entirely because the level of competition is that much higher now. The only way this ‘might not’ be the case is if Japan were to play very, very poorly (not that one game would make that difference, just that it would be seen as a walk through if they happened to win 5-0 – which I think is unlikely…)

    Rebuttal anyone?

  14. John Bladen says:

    Erik:

    Seriously? Are you 11 years old or something? I hope you realize that the moment you mention the physical attractiveness of a women’s team, you announce to the world that you have nothing worth saying.

  15. Soccerlogical says:

    I agree with ERIK, he is a realist and sex sells. The Germany Women’s team did a spread for playboy just before the WWC .. so go take it up with them Bladen! 🙂

    Additionally, I know we shouldn’t compare the technical and overall quality of Women’s soccer to that of Mens but isn’t anyone who holds them to the same standard kinda being an equal opportunist and less of a chauvinist than someone who says it’s a different type of game when it comes to the WWC.

    – discuss
    LOL..

    PS I think Japan takes it tomorrow in AET just like I called Peru today.

  16. LA says:

    I think what has many of us still buzzing is the sheer audacity to take that goal that they did against Brazil with seconds to go to their exit. It has not become less unreal with time: an iconic moment. I have grown to appreciate the competitiveness of the women as well.

  17. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    There is a difference between being realist and being shauvinist.

    Realism in women soccer is to understand the physical (body shape and size, height, center of gravity) and emotional (hormonal) and environmental (child-rearing traditions) differences. Realism in analyzing women soccer is to understand the difference in the level of experience and exposure (to use special lenses for that and we discussed this point few days back)

    Shauvinism is to look down on others because of those difference.

    The mere fact that a man is even watching women soccer indicates that he is less of a shauvinist.

    And I hope you are wrong on your prediction. Yesterday, there were two upsets in the Copa. I hope this doesn’t hit the WWC.

  18. Gus Keri says:

    Bobby:

    I agree with you.

    If this US team wins the cup, it will be more worthy than the previous two WWCs because of the more difficult road it took to achieve.

    Initially, losing to Mexico gave every one a scare and then losing to Sweden and playing some inferior soccer (in the US women standard) opened our eyes to the possibility of going home early in the cup.

    And then beating two good teams in Brazil and France with such dramatic way tells us there is no easy game in women soccer any more.

    In 1991 and 1999, there were only one or two teams that could pose such a threat to the US domination. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to see China taking the US to the PKs in 1999 final at home.

    But now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Japan took the US to the PKs. Even more, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won it out right.

  19. Soccerlogical says:

    Gus – I totally agree with your statement but you gotta admit like Bobby says… “one can’t suck and blow at the same time”. In soccer you do not need size to be successful and if a large percentage of both women and men want the “fairer sex” to be viewed equal in the military and other demanding jobs like cops, construction, firefighters, etc… then why not be judged on same skill sets in soccer… just a thought.

    And by the way, this kinda publicity doesn’t help the cause… except in admitting that “SEX SELLS”.
    http://jockpost.com/germany-soccer-players-pose-playboy/

  20. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    Two points:

    1- The size issue: Abviously, you didn’t check the article pointed at by Bobby’s rants and raves, that says that (height matters).

    Ane way, if you use size criteria alone, then a 6 ft. woman should have equal opportunity to a 6 ft. man when applying to those jobs you listed.

    The truth of the matter is there are less number of women who are 6 ft. tall than men who are 6 ft tall. On average women are almost 5 inches shorter than men.

    Therefore, overall, women soccer teams are shorter than men soccer teams.

    Also, having a lower center of gravity makes women more likely to play the ball on the ground than men who have higher center of gravity.

    2- the publicity: This issue involves both sexes. How many girls follow Beckham because of his soccer skills? Did you see his Calvin Klein ad. showing him wearing underwear?

  21. Soccerlogical says:

    Gus – Are you seriously telling me that one of the main reasons we shouldn’t judge women’s soccer on the same criteria as men’s is because the average male is taller then the average female?

    I really do not understand the point you are trying to make with the height thing… what does height have to do with skill and technique? Have you heard of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Maradona, Wilshire, Modric… hell I think the average height of the Women’s Germany, Sweden and USA team is greater than that of Barccelona. What does being over 6 ft have to do with comparing skill sets of Men and Women’s soccer… how tall are Tim Cahill and Chicharito again?

    By the way, we are talking about viewing the same skills as Men’s soccer but among women NOT in a game between a women’s team vs men’s team. No one is calling for Vlad Klitchko to fight Freeda Foreman!

    As for the Beckham ad, well yea it works both ways cause “SEX SELLS”… that’s the darn point! Difference being, men’s soccer isn’t calling for it to be taken seriously and on its skills and merits rather than playboy shoots. The German WNT Playboy shoot was a smart idea cause Germans/Europeans are realists and even though German Women’s soccer is popular and very successful they still realize “IT IS WHAT IT IS”!

  22. SL – you might want to check your source on the Germany WC side doing a playboy feature. Urban myth. It was an assortment of female German players not the national team.

  23. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    Sometime I wonder if you read every thing I write.

    You said: “Are you seriously telling me that one of the main reasons we shouldn’t judge women’s soccer on the same criteria as men’s is because the average male is taller then the average female?”

    The answer is no.

    I wrote: “if you use size criteria alone,”

    I also wrote: “Realism in women soccer is to understand the physical (body shape and size, height, center of gravity) and emotional (hormonal) and environmental (child-rearing traditions) differences. Realism in analyzing women soccer is to understand the difference in the level of experience and exposure (to use special lenses for that and we discussed this point few days back)”

    as you can see, I said there are a lot of factors to judge women soccer on.

  24. Soccerlogical says:

    Fair enough Gus. At this point I really don’t know what we are debating really. IMO, of all team sports offered to both men and women, soccer is one of the few where the overall team display and even individual skill which is required can be judged equally of both sexes. I think we all agree that the WWC has been a success in ALL aspects.

    Bobby – Kinda the same difference isn’t it. Probably no coincidence the playboy spread was publicized right before the WWC. Hell, you won’t see me complaining over the German Women’s method of “exposure”.

    Enjoy the matches everyone! 🙂

  25. Predictions: Chile to win the Copa, Man U for the EPL and Real for La Liga. What does everyone think?

  26. It has all gone very quite.

  27. Erik says:

    Did Japan win or Did Team USA CHOKE?

    Congrats to Japan but when you give up a goal that late in ET (See Brazil vs USA) and you DOMINATE the game – hitting 3 posts – USA Choked

    In a “One and Done” the best team doesn’t always win it – see the NFL Playoffs as well as the NCAA Hoops Tourney. NO WAY IN H*LL was UConn the very best Men’s Hoops team this past season but they won it all and that is all that matters. The Green Bay Packers got the very last NFC P’off Spot – got HOT in he Playoffs and won it all. They were not the best team in the NFL all season but they had the best season since they won it all. Japan wasn’t the best team in this event but they won so thus they were the best team in this competition. Replay the USA/Japan game 9 more times and USA wins all 9 – but the one that we are talking about didn’t happen -so……….

    SL: FAB call on Japan in AET – you came the closest. All Kudos for sticking up for me – Sex DOES Sell. Before Beach Volleyball went belly up – female players HAD to wear a Bikini. It was required. Best move they could have made – now we can see them with very little clothing on and now more Men will watch – more than if they wore shorts and a t-shirt. Hope Solo has guys wanting to marry her and companies wanting her to be their spokesperson (before Sunday that is) not so much because she is so good but because she is Beautiful. I hope this is taken the right way but Michelle wasn’t easy on the eyes she wouldn’t be doing the FSR – no matter how talented she is – and she is. When Michelle gets to be Bobby’s age she won’t be doing any TV work because there is no market for older women who don’t bring male eyebalsl to the set. It wasn’t the only reason they were hired but the fact Terri and Lara was nice to look at helped get them jobs at FSC. Rebecca Lowe does work for ESPN – very easy on the eyes. I used to work in the media and can tell you Women working in front of the camera better look nice or they are toast. Accept it – it is the society we live in. Go to Hooters and tell me how many old, ugly servers you see. Save your time – answer is NONE!

  28. Soccerlogical says:

    ERIK – Let’s not get crazy with the whole “sex sells’ now! Older women can have just as much sex appeal as younger ones and FSR’s Michelle is class ALWAYS! 🙂

    As for USA dominating and choking.. well that’s sport isn’t it! Let’s not forget the bad offside call on Japan in the second half which would have had a one one on with Solo and Japan could have easily won it in regular time.

    Anyhoo, great result for Womens Soccer in general and all the lil’ asian girls on that continent.

  29. John Bladen says:

    Erik, what happened to that confidence you had in a US victory? Where was the ‘easy win’ you assured us would happen? Apparently, Brazil/USA was not “the final” as you claimed???

    You could try a little grace in defeat (as your side did. I was very pleased to see them praise the team that beat them rather than whine about bad breaks – like you have done).

    The USA did not choke. They played hard and well. It took Japan nearly half an hour to adjust to the system their opponents put in place. As has become the custom, the US went out ‘fast’ early, looking to get the lead in the first few minutes (as they had done against both qf and sf opponents).

    Answer me this: Why is it that all of the US seems to be harping on the Rampone/Buehler/Krieger mistake, or letting Sawa free for the tying goal, yet nobody is talking about how much space the Japanese defense left for Wambach on her headed goal?

    Both are mistakes. Both cost goals. Yet one is deemed “lucky” and the other not.

    The PK round was not a high point for America. Other than that, you should be praising your teams play, not crying about it.

  30. rahul says:

    thats exactly what my friend, a casual observor said about the woman’s game. He wished the men would fall in life and halt the diving…

  31. shmish says:

    Those haircuts on Gregory’s Girl remind me of the Bay City Rollers. That’s all I got, I was camping during most of the WWC. I did see a bit and thought it was great.

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