I’m sorry, I don’t wear pink. Ever.

ESPN Latin America

You know what else is four letters? "FAIL."

The other day, a reader emailed to suggest that we offer up our perspective on espnW. Since the USWNT played last night, I am full of energy to rant about anything, really–so, dear reader, I responded that I would keep the topic under consideration, but clearly I needed to start this post. [Disclaimer: this is entirely my opinion and experience, which are not necessarily shared by my co-Collector, Joan.]

To be honest, when I first saw “espnW” popping up in Twitter talk, I thought it was a joke. There wasn’t a website (there might be now, but it takes more hunting than it merits) and this clearly wasn’t a TV channel… so really, who did these people think they were fooling? What a gimmick.

Then they had their retreat. Oops. So they did (do) exist. They were (are) for real. And that’s tragic. As I have said elsewhere, espnW is setting up a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for women’s sports fans, athletes, and supporters. As a former education major, espnW looks like No Child Left Behind to me–and if you are a teacher or a teacher-in-training, you immediately understand the rhetoric at work here. From the outside, the concept is lovely: a women’s sports presence on ESPN! The network is cleaning up its act and finally giving women’s sports attention! But on the inside, it’s merely shifting the blame. If you don’t support espnW, you don’t support women’s sports. If you don’t support women’s sports when they are handed to you (separate from the male “mainstream”) then why should ESPN cover it along with “everything” else?

My inner academic has a hat-tip for ESPN for the game the network is playing, but the inner academic is also grinding her teeth and hoping for blood that will never be shed. I would rather have ESPN ignore women’s sports entirely than build us this ghetto. Because, by the way, have you watched ESPN’s previous/current coverage of women’s sports? Have you listened to the commentary? Have you suffered through their women’s soccer coverage? Cross-Conference had more balanced and in-depth coverage of the Portland-Santa Clara game than ESPN offered, and that was just from shooting off emails, chatting up a handful of players, and glancing at archives in our spare time–before the game.

For the past two years, even before the espnW nonsense, my opinion has been a great big Good Riddance to ESPN.  I have the luxury of being outside of the economics of the mainstream-media-versus-women’s-sports mess, but give me my cynical moment. I would rather have internally produced media (look specifically at WPS) than processed, artificial, one-note ESPN games, features, and commentary. Our league is going to be on life support regardless of ESPN’s mainstream attention–and don’t get me wrong, this is not to let ESPN off the hook. It’s to say that ESPN coverage of women’s soccer (and women’s sports) is so half-assed that it would hardly make a difference.

[It’s] really critical for these guys to understand that they’re not the target audience, either. And on the surface, although this may seem like an easy target for a quick joke, if they ever want their sisters, daughters or granddaughters to have the opportunity to experience financial success as professional athletes, they’ll need to support (or at least not mock) a major sports media company when they build opportunities for female athletes to get attention.

Emphasis mine, and I don’t buy it. If ESPN were to genuinely build opportunities for female athletes, the female athletes would be on ESPN, getting coverage on par with male athletes. So that when you’re channel surfing or walk through a room where the TV is always set to ESPN (hello, student union at my undergrad alma mater) you have a chance of catching a glimpse of any female athlete the same way you currently have a chance of any male athlete.

So espnW? Still half-assed, ghettoizing, passing of the buck.

[Essentially, you can look at this the same way Lindsey Mean looks at FIFA.com in “Making Masculinity and Framing Femininity.” Next up in Ruth’s Anger Series, “Here Is What I Really Think of Alex Morgan’s Call-Up,” and “Why Do You Automatically Assume I’m Going to Offend Someone?”

Edit: Okay, so I’m not as angry as my friends.]

Boston College beats UNC (aka Thursday was a good night to be a DiMartino)

September 1, 2007, South Carolina opened the season against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. 16 minutes into the match, the Gamecocks score. That single goal was enough to end No. 1 UNC’s 27 game winning steak and hand the Tar Heels an historical first-ever loss in the home opener. And sure, I was happy for South Carolina, but I was more pumped that they at beaten UNC at UNC. The Tar Heels had plenty of time to come back and put the usual hurting on their opponents, but they didn’t.

In women’s college soccer, the giant slayers are few and far between. So the slaying is sweeter when it’s a team that I’ve been through the ups and downs with. In 2007, UNC lost three games in the regular season (South Carolina, William & Mary, and Miami), but none of those mattered as much as Notre Dame’s arrival in Chapel Hill in the third round of the postseason. 2007 was “rough” on UNC and none too gentle on Notre Dame. I was at Penn State-West Virginia when news came that the Irish had knocked the Tar Heels out of the tournament. While my glee was tempered by the Penn State loss, this is still one of the highlights of 2007 for me–despite Notre Dame’s painful semifinal loss to Florida State.

Yesterday, while most of my twitter feed was fixated on the WPS semifinal between Philadelphia and Boston, I was watching the scoreline and minutes for the Boston College-North Carolina game. UNC had a 2-2 draw earlier this season with Stanford, one of the strongest and most talented teams in the NCAA this year. That was the Tar Heels’ 2010 blemish until last night’s 3-2 loss at home to Boston College.

BC opened this season with a 1-1 draw at home against Stanford. Since then, they have won every game. Granted, until last week, the Eagles’ most significant opponent was probably Boston University (no slouch this year with Kevorkian on the roster). But BC didn’t struggle against Rutgers and did come from behind twice before taking down the No. 1.

The recaps and articles are worth reading. This game was a significant victory for a team that is in its second season as serious contenders, and this win should cement that.

Boston College won with a complete effort. It won because DiMartino, Mewis and Mastroianni may be among the 15 or 20 best players in the nation. It won because its back line, particularly the unsung combination of Beyar and Alyssa Pember on the left side, has now hung for 180 minutes with the best Stanford and North Carolina had to offer. It won with role players such as Natalie Crutchfield, the speed merchant off the bench who changed the tempo when she came on as a first-half substitute.

It won because, at least on this night, it was a better than No. 1.