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Heartbreak and Humility

In Sports on July 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

by:  Eric Buenning

 

How the World Cup Final went well beyond the actual match

Excuse me for a moment while I stand up and applaud what happened this afternoon.

…….

…….

Alright, I’m done.  WOW.  That was incredible.  That match has already been replayed on ESPN2 as an instant classic, and for good reason.  We had multiple comebacks, gut-wrenching action, overtimes, and stars playing their best and the best moment.

There are two things that I’ll take away from this final match,  heartbreak and humility.

We all know what the heartbreak consisted of.  Our nation’s team was ahead twice in regular time, only to surrender both leads on crushing goals.  After going into penalty kicks, we thought we had the advantage with Hope Solo guarding the goal.  Shockingly, the US missed their first three PK attempts, and Japan prevailed 3-1.  It was brutal to watch the team we all got behind, standing there, knowing that we won’t be coming home with the trophy.  However, the heartbreak isn’t the important part here.

If you watched any part of the post-game interviews, you know what I mean.  Abby Wambach showed nothing but praise and admiration for Japan for never giving up.  You could sense the anguish she carried after missing on a few open shots, but she made no excuses.  She didn’t gripe that this was presumably her last World Cup.  She couldn’t have been more respectful and classy.  Hats off to her.

Hope  Solo also demonstrated the same class.  Solo, who was outspoken in the past, had nothing but praise for the Japanese team, highlighting why their victory was so important while fighting back her tears.

As you all know,  Japan was devastated by earthquakes and tsunamis.  It absolutely crippled their well-being.  They had to be told what food and water was safe and where they could and could not go in the towns affected by the tragedy.  They didn’t even imagine making it this far in the tournament.  Hell, some of their players considered even giving up the sport in order to be their for their families in the wake of the disaster.  You thought losing the title match was heartbreak?  Please.

As much as it did hurt to lose the final, we need to accept the run that we had.  It was inspiring, compelling, and may have even sparked some popularity for the sport.  But the real champions prevailed today, and we have to tip our caps to them.  This will by no means make the Japanese forget about what happened to them, but it will serve as a cause they can all rally behind.  Their team represented their country well, displaying the courage not only to win the match, but to believe that they will be able to move on.  They’re going do it together, too.  Our soccer ladies will also move on from their own form of heartbreak, and with what I saw today, I like our chances going forward.  For now,  let’s show the same class and respect our girls did.

Congratulations, Japan.  You’re are the 2011 World Cup champions, and you are truly deserving of the title, on and off the pitch.

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