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A different kind of legacy

  • SI.com, Monday, July 18, 2011 1:34 AM

Ann Killion explains that this U.S. women's team is leaving behind a different kind of legacy than the famous victors of 1999. Unlike the '99 team, they were not required to be pioneers or social activists or saviors. They were simply athletes playing in a thoroughly compelling, exceptionally watchable sporting event. And that's progress.

These players didn't blaze any trails. That wasn't their narrative. By the time this group came along, the path was already cleared, the signs posted, the direction well marked. This 2011 World Cup was about creating their own legacy. Even in defeat, they did that. In a World Cup of unexpected parity, the U.S. team didn't dominate. At times, they didn't even play particularly well. But their last-gasp effort against Brazil captured a nation's attention and, as in all good sporting events, we went along for the entertaining ride.

Indomitable Abby Wambach. Clutch Hope Solo. Sparkplug Megan Rapinoe. Speedster Alex Morgan. Athletes playing their sport. In the past, women's teams were expected to do more than just play. They had to build a movement, change their culture, make history. This team is liberated from that.

On a summer Sunday afternoon, millions of people stopped in their tracks because of the U.S. women's soccer team. To watch them play. To be riveted to the drama of sports. That's legacy enough.

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