Two days after Team USA played its inaugural match of the 2019 Women's World Cup, fans and critics are still debating whether the players' celebrations after each of their were excessive. However, while the focus of the sports world has been on that debate over potentially unsportsmanlike behavior, it seems to have overlooked the touching display of sportsmanship by one of the U.S. Women's National Team's star players.
At the end of the game, as Thailand's fans and players alike wept over the one-sided outcome, Carli Lloyd — the veteran forward who emerged as the breakout star of the last Women's World Cup — approached Thailand's goalie with an embrace, then walked the defeated opponent off the field arm-in-arm.
"What I thought was so classy was after the end of the game, Carli Lloyd went up to the Thailand goalkeeper, and she put her arm around her and walked her off the field,"Hope Solo told " ." "That's the kind of class I want to see from the United States."
It was an act of compassion that was easy to miss if you were simply watching the game on television, or for a commentator swept up in the excitement of the history-making win. However, the understated act of kindness was not lost on Thailand's goalkeeper.
Sukanya Chor Charoenying — who had to endure the humiliation of picking the ball up from the back of her team's net a staggering 14 times (Team USA's first goal was called back) — took to Twitter today to express her gratitude to Lloyd.
"Thanks so much, Lloyd," she wrote. "Your words that you told me make me strong. Keep going for this tournament and so on. Firstly, I felt disappointment in worst situation but this is the biggest experience in my life."
Less than an hour later, Carli Lloyd responded with a tweet of her own. "All you can do is give it your best each and every day," the three-time Olympian wrote. "Keep fighting and never give up!! Still 2 more games to play."
As long as there are sports — and perhaps especially women in sports — debates are sure to rage: Are celebrations unsportsmanlike? What's acceptable to, while representing your country? Will the vast gender ever be corrected? Is there a for behavior between male and female athletes?
Most of those questions are massive in scope and not likely to be solved anytime soon. In the meantime, however, two things are abundantly clear. First, the U.S. Women's National Team is one of the most formidable forces in U.S. athletics, male or female. Second, amidst all the controversy over unsportsmanlike behavior, there are examples of sportsmanship that deserve to be both highlighted and heralded, like what occurred on Tuesday between the USA's Carli Lloyd and Thailand's Sukanya Chor Charoenying.
And in a global tournament like the Women's World Cup that brings the numerous countries of the world shoulder-to-shoulder, is there any "goal" more important than that?