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An ode to the USA World Cup Team

It has now been a week since the U.S. men's national team's departure from the World Cup, and while there continues to be some angst over the missed opportunity the team had to make a deeper run in the tournament, the fact remains that the run they did make touched quite a few people back home.

It may just be a commercial, but I think this new Nike commercial does a good job of capturing the feelings of many American soccer fans after this World Cup:

What do you think of the commercial? Share your thoughts below.


  1. there is a difference between drawing a foul and diving. not one of our boys pulled what the dutch did every time someone touched them today.

  2. I’m going to give up after this. You again did not read what I said. It’s not simply about what’s in the ad. Things are said in the ad, and things are seen in the ad. Your problem is what’s seen. You think there should be girls. You think this should be because of what you hear, rather than what you see. If you looked closer, you’d see that the ad is about young male soccer players. They are thanking the team. It is not a cross section of male US soccer fans. The ad excludes not only females, but all males who are not young male soccer players. If this screams sexism to you, the problem is yours, not Nike.

    Your argument that their statements are generic is fair, but that only means the audio evidence is inconclusive. What is conclusive is what you can see. When you ignore the visual evidence and look for a problem in vagueness, you are looking for a problem where there is none. Goodnight.

  3. “It occurs to me that you all are focusing on what is said because you would like to say those things to the players yourself, and as a US soccer fan, you think this ad is about all US soccer fans. That’s what makes this ad so compelling to us – we’d like it to be our personal thank you to the team. But you are simply ignoring what you can see in the ad. It is not from us. It is from the next generation.”

    Exactly the reverse: as you can plainly see from my comments, I am very much paying attention to what is in the ad. Go back and listen to it yourself, if you think I’m off! And what’s in the ad is precisely what confuses the issue.

    Yes, the comments ARE like what many people would say to them. So why aren’t many people shown? OK, if you want to just show kids as a representation of the future, that’s fine and an idea everyone understands. But then why aren’t girls shown? That’s all people are saying. It’s not rocket science, here.

    You by contrast are going in with the idea you’re later coming out with about the meaning of the ad, presumably from the title and working from there in defense of others’ comments and questions about the ad. But if you look at the ad, the messages actually in the ad do not correspond very directly with the boy-only speakers and this message in the title that’s not part of the ad and one line at the beginning that is quickly replaced by numerous other generic ones.

    It’s precisely what’s in the ad that I’m talking about. I have no personal problem at all with making the ad just about boys and paving the way. Great — knock yourself out! But not making that message very clear in what is said and the exclusion of the title/message, that’s what’s producing people’s reactions. If you don’t get your message across more clearly and more consistently, you weren’t very successful in your marketing.

  4. You know, for that matter, “Thank you for paving the way” is itself rather ambiguous, again particularly because of the lack of more comments about boys’ development as players, specifically, the by contrast very high number of more generic comments that could be spoken by any American who watched and was inspired by the performance, the emphasis on playing like Americans, and so on.

    It would only have taken the inclusion of the title or more emphasis on it or on the paving the way idea, with a couple more comments on that, to have made the whole thing clearer and avoided such misfiring of the message. Did they just not test it enough or not pay attention or…?

  5. You once again have failed to address anything I wrote, so I’m not inclined to take this much further, but here’s the problem with your argument. Your problem is with the PRESENCE of males to the exclusion of females in the ad. Your problem is not about what is said, but rather who is represented. My point is that to watch the ad and to see only males is to see only 50% of it. They are not simply males, but young male soccer players. To ignore who is actually in the ad, and then listen to what they say, and then complain about who is not in the ad, is simply logically inconsistent. The problem, again, is in your head, not in the ad.

    It occurs to me that you all are focusing on what is said because you would like to say those things to the players yourself, and as a US soccer fan, you think this ad is about all US soccer fans. That’s what makes this ad so compelling to us – we’d like it to be our personal thank you to the team. But you are simply ignoring what you can see in the ad. It is not from us. It is from the next generation. Don’t let your personal feelings cloud your vision.

  6. Not diving! Altidore gets roughed up, but he also takes a lot of dives. I distinctly recall one of the many yellow cards he drew was merely him being tripped by a phantom leg

  7. The putdown angle was just failing to look further at the message of the ad and just saying, “well, if you’re so confused, that’s your problem.” I’m not upset about it, but the argument approach was jettisoning reason in favor of a personal putdown.

    You have watched the commercial, right? At the beginning, one boy says, one time, “Thank you for paving the way.” No other comment that any boy makes in the entire commercial — and there are many of them, and quite a variety! — has anything specifically to do with boys or with paving the way specifically for boys. It’s all thank you, thank you, thank you for the inspiration, for the playing style, for not giving up, for not diving (which also made me cringe a bit), for making people believe, for the great goal, for overcoming the disallowed goal… All comments that apply in a general sense to Americans — and Americans are also emphasized at the end (not boys or men) — not to boys, specifically.

    The question then becomes, how can you listen to _all_ of that — not just the one lone “paving the way” line at the beginning, and forget the written title, too, as we’ve already seen that that’s not in the commercial — and still come up with the conclusion that anyone who brings up this question is just sadly confused and has no reason to their questioning of the exclusion of girls?

    None of us are looking for the problem. The problem is evident right in the commercial. It’s a classic mixed message sort of thing, that’s all.

  8. I don’t see any putdowns in what I wrote. But anyway, you seem to have ignored everything I wrote: again, this ad is not about fans. And the part of my response that you quoted should make this clearer to you than anything. The ad is quite clearly about young male soccer players. It does not focus simply on males to the exclusion of females, but young male soccer players to the exclusion of everyone else, male or female. See anyone in that ad over 20? Anyone unathletic? If the only subset of America that you see in that ad is males, without any further nuance, then I can only assume you’re looking for a problem where there is none.

  9. ‘The ad is full of young boys in soccer gear, on soccer fields, in stadiums, in weight rooms, with boys playing soccer in the background…”

    Now you’re catching on to what others are picking up on and commenting on, here.

    Too bad you then jettisoned reason in the second half, there, and just went the personal putdown route, instead.

    Mark’s original question still stands, despite all the ensuing over-reactions from evidently nervous males, and sums things up well: “Great commercial, and well deserved, but does Nike think that the USMNT has no female fans?”

  10. The ad is full of young boys in soccer gear, on soccer fields, in stadiums, in weight rooms, with boys playing soccer in the background. It doesn’t even display a cross section of male soccer fans. If that is enough to confuse you into thinking that the idea of the ad is that it’s supposed to be a general thank you from US soccer fans to the team, then I suppose that’s your own problem.

  11. freak out much “Lizzy”? it’s a “thank you” commercial. plenty of women & girls, including me, love the MNT and would like to thank them too. (and we would like gear as well, as noted by others)

    And comparing that to a commercial for a product only women use is beyond stupid. In fact, it’s the whole point. The MNT isn’t just for men and boys.

  12. “the title of the ad is “Paving the Way”. It doesn’t just appear here.”

    Yep — and that’s part of the problem with the approach in the ad: they don’t properly clarify their rather specific intent more for the viewers, such that the result seems odd to a good number of those viewers. So, a less than fully successful marketing attempt (as nice as the ad may be in other ways, which many of the same viewers have also pointed out).

  13. holy god you need to chillax. its a fricken 40 second commercial.

    like, OMG it didnt have an asian – racists!!! right???

    I mean, obviously nike is out to repeal Title IX and women’s suffrage!

    seriously, do you do this every time you watch a commercial?

    OMG, no men in the tampax commercial! sue the bastards!!!

  14. Confused people needlessly debate otherwise clear things all the time, especially on this site.

    I’ve watched the commercial enough times (and I’m sure I’ll watch it a few more times). The fact of the matter is, whether you like it or not, the title of the ad is “Paving the Way”. It doesn’t just appear here. That is the title as uploaded by Nike Soccer onto Youtube. If that doesn’t make the purpose and intent of the ad clear, I don’t know what will.

    As has been pointed out above, the way has long been paved for girls who aspire to play for the USWNT.

  15. “The commercial is called “Paving the Way”, so I’d say that seems to negate everything you just said.”

    Obviously not or people wouldn’t be debating this. No?

    Once more, try watching the commercial again. The only words that appear on the screen in the commercial are “Write the Future” at the end. “Paving the Way” only appears here — unless of course this file has actually omitted something from the commercial inadvertently — because the name of the file always appears on a YouTube video when you mouse over it.

  16. Sorry, but face facts. Women’s sports will be behind men’s sports. It’s the way it’s viewed around the world and here. Soccer will ONLY take hold in this country by the success generated by the MEN’S team. Not the women’s. Is this fair? No. But it is what it is. Simply put, men watch and drive sports. Women don’t. And that includes ad and revenue dollars. There are exceptions, but it’s not the norm. It’s a simple fact. After ’99, the league started, but folded. Even now, the WPS is barely noticed. Meanwhile, the MLS keeps growing and expanding, and the truth is, those soccer specific stadiums are being built for them. Not the WPS. People care, and watch, more for the NBA, not WNBA. MLB, not softball. MLS, not WPS. PGA, not the LPGA. Confed Cup, not Algarve Cup, Ryder Cup, not Solheim Cup, etc. Sorry. It’s just the way it is. Look at hockey and cycling. Once Americans started winning, consistently, the sports were given respect in this country and abroad, and are now followed more than ever before here, and some Americans are tops in those sports. Just look at the interest the Americans abroad are generating in playing and progressing. When the USMNT starts to do that, the same will happen to soccer here, and, i’ll say it again, benefit the women as well. And in the end, isn’t that what’s most important? Btw, i work in merchandising, and on the Nike campus in Oregon, the biggest building is named after…Mia Hamm! Not MJ or Tiger. Let the boys have their day.

  17. Well said, rob.

    However I think that’s pretty much what everybody else has said who has commented on it, actually. Others have just over-reacted and claimed that any such response is saying the ad is blatantly sexist and a result of PC run amok.

  18. “This commercial is about the next generation of the USMNT.”

    Watch it again. Most of the commercial is not about that, but is rather about thanking the USMNT for their effort and inspiration and style of play. That seems to negate your conclusion, ” I don’t see why there should be any girls in it.”


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