The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The face of women's soccer

In the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Norway in the semifinals and China in the finals to become the best soccer team in the world. Mia Hamm was a member of this gold medal winning U.S. Women's National Team and led the team in points with 19 goals and 18 assists. She later became the MVP of the Women’s World Cup. Mia Hamm was the youngest women ever to play with the U.S. National Team at the age of 15; she was known for her famous goal scoring and the ability to beat defenders. This shot was taken after Mia Hamm scored the equalizing goal against Norway in the semifinals to later become a goal medalist. This picture brought marvelous celebration to the team, the United States as a Nation, Mia Hamm’s hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but it also transported a message of hope to women athletes wanting to pursue their dream.

                Mia Hamm has been the face of women’s soccer and still is today because of her tremendous statistics as a member of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the Women’s U.S. National Team. With the success Mia Hamm faced through her first two years at the University of North Carolina she could have surpassed her last two years of college and played full time with the Women’s U.S. National team. Instead Mia Hamm decided to finish out her college days; she became a member of the four time NCAA champion University of North Carolina, first ever three time U.S. soccer athlete of the year between 1994-1996 among both men and women, and was the all-time leading scorer in her conference. Mia Hamm finished her college career with 103 goals, 72 assists, and 278 points. The University of North Carolina retired her number (#19) in 1994. Yet, Mia Hamm didn’t go through a rough patch throughout her college and U.S.  Women’s National Team career there was still a reason to rejoice and display that much emotion. Mia Hamm was doing this for all the women athletes because women weren’t appreciated when it came to athletics. The emotion is shown through her entire body and stance. Her passion starts with her stance, after scoring a goal the typical celebration position for a soccer player is what Mia Hamm is displaying in this photo. Soccer players always celebrate their goal with their team by sliding in this position to show their emotion. Another aspect of this photo that shows emotion is Mia Hamm’s facial expression; it expresses the delight she is feeling after working hard for 6 years.  Mia Hamm’s facial expression also illustrates the excitement of the fans, the nation, the team, and her hometown. Even though this picture stands for Mia Hamm’s soccer lifetime it portrays much more. This photo portrays hard work, strength, dignity, and passion for the game.

                Knowingly, Mia Hamm was the best soccer player in the world at that time and is still praised today. Throughout her college years she could have left to go support the U.S. National team, but instead she decided to finish out her college life at the University of North Carolina. Mia Hamm wanted what was best for the tar heels at the time and wanted to continue to grow and develop as a soccer player so she could impact the U.S National Team. She not only pushed herself to get better, she pushed the team to get better. Mia Hamm showed dedication and hard work through her passion and efforts on the soccer field; she was known for displaying her talents. The joy and excitement in this photo can be portrayed as motivation to other athletes trying to achieve their goal.

                This photo of Mia Hamm is metonymy because it represents the success people have each day when giving it their all at what they desire, it embraces more than the success of professional athletes playing the world’s game. It also stands for teamwork. Yes, professional athletes play for themselves, to get better, and to make the most money possible, but the world cup means more. The world cup brings together many nations to answer one question: who is better at soccer? It means more than playing for yourself; it’s playing for a nation that believes in you.  Soccer is one event most nations have in common, poor or rich, so playing for their nation and their supporters is what they do best. This sliding pose by Mia Hamm represents the nation’s joy and the world’s desire for the game.

Sierra Riasati

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