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Soccer dads deserve some credit, too


Original post date: July 9, 1999

I'd like to say a few words for the soccer dads. I know the term "soccer mom" has become part of our culture now, and the U.S. women's soccer team is being praised for breaking down stereotypes and opening new vistas for women's sports as it goes against China on Saturday for the World Cup. And I know it's a wonderful feminist moment, but...

I think the soccer dads are as responsible for all this as anyone. I think the revolution occurred 15, maybe 20 years ago. I think guys became more involved with their children. I think they found sport, especially soccer, was a wonderful way to relate to their daughters. I don't recall that anyone kicked down doors or broke down barriers. I think guys opened those doors gladly.

I have a daughter, 24 years old, same age as many of these U.S. soccer women. I remember those long afternoons at youth soccer games, watching little knots of eight-year-olds and nine-year-olds, following a black-and-white ball in a cloud of dust. I remember soccer dads.

They were a determined, manic lot, clearly as intense as their Little League counterparts. They schemed to draft good players. They designed elaborate practice schedules. They put together all-star teams that would travel to tournaments in a five-state area. They sent their daughters to big-time summer soccer camps. They did everything they would have done for their sons in any sport.

I know this is an out-of-place thought here, but the World Cup... U.S. women's soccer... I think it all has happened largely because a lot of fathers loved and encouraged their daughters.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Leigh Montville appears regularly on CNN/Sports Illustrated.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the writer.

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