Alex Morgan, actual human being!
On Monday, Jonanna Widner and I took almost two hours to talk about one thing: Alex Morgan. And even though this went on for almost two hours, I still feel like we barely scratched the surface about all the things we could have talked about.
You can read the post here at Stumptown Footy.
The entire idea for the dialogue and the post came after I sent her a fairly grumpy direct message on Twitter after I saw some of the reaction to Alex's tweet concerning the Western New York Flash stream. You know the one. Personally, I'm a big fan of swearing, I'm a big fan of players expressing themselves on Twitter or on the internet or in person (which can backfire, sure, but as someone who's had to make their feed a little more professional, a little less curse-filled, it sucks), and I enjoyed the tweet 1000% on those two levels.
So that's what prompted the discussion, but there's a lot more to talk about with Alex Morgan this season. When I went out to Portland for the PTFC vs FC Kansas City match at the start of August, I was lucky to be able to hang out with people who think about soccer A LOT, and we had plenty of discussions about Thorns FC, and plenty more about Alex Morgan specifically. One night, out at Goose Hollow Inn drinking a Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen (which, sidenote: if you tell me where I can find that in Massachusetts I will owe you a major favor), I compared Morgan to Alex Ovechkin, considering this whole talk about the season being a disappointment, a young star being tasked with being the face of a league (with the admission that Ovechkin at the height of his stardom was still splitting the duties evenly with Sidney Crosby), and playing in a system and with a coach that wasn't a perfect fit.
The only thing is: Alex Morgan has the added bonus of being a female athlete in America, in a sport that most mainstream sports fans ignore, look down upon, or simply don't even know exists. Sure, the U.S. women's national team gets plenty of attention during major tournaments, and sure, Alex Morgan gets plenty of attention from dudebros who are convinced that they will end up marrying her, but these generally aren't the eyeballs that the NWSL is attracting to the game. But Alex Morgan transcends the NWSL, in a way that Brittney Griner transcends the WNBA.
That's the discussion Jonanna and I ran out of time for, and that's the discussion that we, as fans of a sport played by women, still need to take part in. The one comment theme that has stuck in my head for days is, after Morgan tweeted "Can you figure out your shit," there was an immediate comparison to Hope Solo. And that was a BAD thing, to the people who said this, a very bad thing indeed. Because Hope Solo is the example of what not to do, because we judge Hope Solo for having opinions (both ones we agree with and ones we don't), apparently.
The way we look at Alex Morgan is a symptom of a greater disease in America: they way we've been trained to judge female athletes for their looks and behavior, rather than their performance. This isn't to say that we should ignore behavior entirely—but at the end of the day, female athletes are judged on it a lot more harshly than the average male sports star.
Maybe it's just me. As I was writing this, all I could think of was a specific Kristen Stewart quote that you can find in the gif below. I hope if you do have some thoughts, you leave a comment here or on the post at Stumptown Footy. So far, it's been a pretty encouraging response, especially for the first of a collaborative effort between myself and Jonanna, but I like being able to have a good, thoughtful (if informal) talk and share it with everyone.