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A Matter of Pride and Its History

Sheba Rawson - Portland Timbers/mlsfemale
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson // @shebainpdx

It’s Pride Month.  Many teams in MLS and NWSL are officially celebrating with Pride Nights. Many supporters are engaging in #PrideRaiser campaigns to benefit local LGBTQ-friendly organizations (The Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters both have campaigns to benefit Portland’s own OutsideIn). Individual players have also gotten involved in #PlayingForPride.

The Timbers’ own Zarek Valentin, for example, was already committed to a pledge of his own before a rash bet he made forced him to follow through on a promise to wear a Hayley Raso bow in his hair for a match, which turned into an upcoming second Pride fundraiser:

At the national team level, both the USMNT and USWNT are honoring Pride month, with rainbow numbers on their jerseys, just as they did in 2017. This past week, we learned that Jaelene Hinkle declined the opportunity to play for the national team last year because, as she put it, “I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey.”

At the time, the press release announcing her withdrawal cited “personal reasons;” this week, she chose to share the reason for her withdrawal on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club.  This announcement, just a few days before the start of Pride month celebrations, was met with a less than friendly reception in Portland, where she was met with boos from the Portland stands and at least one snarky two stick:

And, of course, there are those who react to displays honoring Pride Month that folks just “stick to sports.”

Here’s the thing about “sticking to sports”– it should never come at the expense of standing up for human rights.

I completely understand devotion to religious ideals. I was reared American Baptist, went to church three times a week for eighteen years, had family Bible study every morning. But it is not lost on me that the American Baptists were initially the Northern Baptists, who split with the Southern Baptists in 1845 over the issue of using religious interpretations to justify slavery and racism.

Want an extreme example of using religion to treat your fellow human unjustly? Look no further than, for example, Southern Baptist pastor Thorton Stringfellow’s 1860 Cotton Is King, And Pro-Slavery Arguments:

Jesus Christ has not abolished slavery by a prohibitory command…the principle relied on for this purpose, is a fundamental principle of the Mosaic law, under which slavery was instituted by Jehovah himself…It is only sober truth to say, that the institution of slavery has saved from the sword more lives, including their increase, than all the souls who now inhabit this globe. Under the gospel, it has brought within the range of gospel influence, millions of Ham’s descendant’s among ourselves, who but for this institution, would have sunk down to eternal ruin.

My point is not to run down Southern Baptists, or people of any particular religious belief. Throughout history, one can find similar examples, from many faiths. My point instead is to note the danger of using religion to justify inhumane treatment of others, of treating fellow humans as “less than.” I picked slavery as just one obvious example.

Unequal treatment under the law has happened and continues to happen throughout the world based on race, gender, and sexual identity, among other personal characteristics. In our own country, there have been statutes on the books for persons perceived to be wearing clothing not belonging to one’s gender, or for simply gathering in the same establishment together.

Fighting for the rights of LGBTQ to exist and to expect equal treatment under the law arguably came to a head in this country during the Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969, which is the reason Pride Month is historically celebrated in June in the US.

Do you think discrimination against LGBTQ folks isn’t still a problem?  Try engaging in a Pride parade in Turkey or Uganda. Think it isn’t a problem in the US any more? Note that, as of this 2012 Williams Institute study of agencies who serve the homeless in the US, 40% of the homeless youth they serve are LGBTQ youth.

The top two reasons cited for homelessness among this population: family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity; or being forced out of the home by parents who reject the youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And then, of course, there are the victims of violence simply for being LGBTQ.

Let us also remember that much of the soccer world’s recent celebration of Pride Month has been in response to inhumanity. Less than a week after the Pulse nightclub massacre, US Men’s National Team captain Michael Bradley donned a rainbow armband to show his support for the LGBTQ community. And in 2017, Orlando Soccer Stadium unveiled rainbow-hued seats honoring the 49 victims of the tragedy.

It is in this context that the mens’ and womens’ national teams have worn Pride jersey numbers. It is critical to remember that Pride jerseys, parades, and events are not simply to “celebrate” one’s sexuality. More importantly, they are to recognize that all people are worthy of respect, dignity, and basic human rights.

Sometimes some of us in the Timbers Army joke that soccer is our religion, complete with Providence Park as our “church,” games as “worship services,” and songs and chants as our “hymns.” And when it comes to freedom of expression, we’re very good at that in the stands as well, booing both silly and not-so-silly things that take place on the pitch. But I take religious freedom and human rights very seriously.

Sometimes one’s religious tenets forbid eating certain foods, or eating at certain times, or marrying outside the faith, or uncovering one’s hair, or shaving one’s beard, or any of a thousand individual choices. Thankfully, the Constitution protects our freedom of religion. Nobody should be forced to follow a particular state religion, or be denied the opportunity to worship as they choose.

At the same time, nobody’s religious beliefs can be used as an excuse for unequal treatment under the law, let alone to foster an atmosphere where hatred and violence against a class of individuals is somehow regarded as acceptable. Just as it is abhorrent to conceive of using religion as an excuse to allow slavery and racial discrimination to exist, so, too, it is abhorrent to use religion as justification for unequal treatment of LGBTQ persons.

Jaelene Hinkle has the absolute right to worship as she chooses, to profess her faith, and to refuse a national team callup for any reason. I hope that eventually she also learns the difference between religious observance and creating space in the larger world for hate and inequality to thrive.

I will boo the heck out of hate and inequality whenever I see it; and I will also boo when I see people creating the space that allows it to continue to exist.

Peace/shalom/salaam alaikum/namaste.

Featured image: Timbers Army Flicker

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USWNT vs France Recap

US Women’s National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

March 7, 2017

Final Score: 3-0 France

Lineup: 3-4-1-2

Alyssa Naeher

Becky Sauerbrunn, Allie Long, Casey Short

Rose Lavelle (Mallory Pugh, 45), Morgan Brian(Julie Johnston, 70) , Samantha Mewis (Lindsey Horan, 70), Tobin Heath

Carli Lloyd (Captain) (Kelly O’Hara, 78)

Christen Press (Crystal Dunn, 45), Lynn Williams (Morgan Brian 70)

10 minutes in. 2-0 France. If you know anything about the United States Women’s National Soccer Team you would be very surprised with this scoreline. You wouldn’t have expected the United States (yes the same team that went 520 minutes without conceding a goal in the 2015 Women’s World Cup) to be down 2-0 that early, even to an opponent as quality as the French national team.

In the 7th minute, France slipped the ball in between 2 of the United States defenders, causing Alyssa Naeher to try to stop the one on one with Eugénie Le Sommer. She mistimed her tackle and clipped Sommer’s feet instead of grabbing the ball. This resulted in the first yellow of the night and a penalty that Camille Abily converted.

Image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

2 minutes later in the 9th minute, the United States was caught in transition while France played a ball over the USA’s backline. Eugénie Le Sommer beat Allie Long in a foot race and slotted it home to double their lead.

In the 63rd minute the French had a great 3 player combination down their right side to beat Casey Short and send in a cross that Camille Abily tapped in.

The United States best chance came in the 56th minute when Mallory Pugh cut inside and hit a near post shot forcing Meline Gerard to make a save.

Although the USWNT used all 6 substitutes to try and get back in the game, the French women held onto their 3-0 lead to win the game. This win put them in first place of this round-robin tournament, evidently winning them the title of the 2017 SheBelieves cup champions.

Whats next? :

The SheBelieves cup is officially over so the next time you will see the USWNT is April 6th in Frisco, Texas. If that is too long to wait, the USMNT is playing in a huge World Cup qualifier against Honduras on March 24th.

Featured image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

Follow and chat with me here: @abigailgerken22

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USWNT vs Germany Recap

US Women’s National Team Key Contributor

By Abigail Gerken @abigailgerken22

March 1st, 2017. Lynn Williams had the only goal of the game as the United States Women’s National Team defeated Germany 1-0 in a close match in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Lineup: 3-5-2

Alyssa Naeher

Becky Sauerbrunn, Allie Long, Casey Short

Crystal Dunn (Mallory Pugh, 58), Morgan Brian, Carli Lloyd (captain), Samantha Mewis, Tobin Heath

Christen Press (Lindsey Horan, 79),  Lynn Williams (Alex Morgan, 79)

The ladies in red, head to toe, faced off against the 2016 Olympic gold medalists Germany in the first round of matches in the SheBelieves Cup. This tournament was created in 2016 after the USWNT launched the #SheBelieves campaign during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The countries invited to face the United States are Germany, France, and England. They are ranked 2, 3, and 5 in the world respectively.

Image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

The game was pretty evenly matched with both sides having multiple opportunities on goal. Germany’s best chance came in the 12th minute when Sara Däbritz hit a dangerous shot from right outside the 18 yard box forcing Alyssa Naeher to make a save. The USWNT goal was started off with Christen Press stripping the ball away from Germany’s left back and cutting inside to take a left footed shot that hit the crossbar. Tobin Heath then followed the rebound but it was deflected off a German defender out to the penalty spot. The 2016 NWSL MVP Lynn Williams then finished it into the back of the net to put her country up 1-0.

Lynn Williams had another opportunity to add onto the scoresheet when she beat two german defenders to go 1v1 with the keeper, but then she hit it over the goal in the 69th minute. The United States continued to hold the 1-0 lead to win the game.

A couple of takeaways:

Casey Short:

The defender from the Chicago Red Stars had a solid game at left center back. This was only her 5th cap but she looked very comfortable in that position. She made a lot of great tackles and was a prominent part in the USA getting a shutout.

Alyssa Naeher:

Alyssa Naeher has been competing with Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for the starting goalkeeper role since Hope Solo‘s absence following the 2016 Olympics. Having a clean sheet against the 2nd best ranked team in the world is very good for Naeher’s case.

Allie Long:

The Budweiser woman of the match looked very solid in her middle center back role. Primarily an attacking center midfielder, Long’s versatility shined as she was the key to this 3 center back experiment. We will most likely see her start in this position in games to come.

What’s next for the  USWNT?

The United States takes on England in the next instalment of the SheBelieves Cup on March 4th in Harrison, New Jersey. You can watch it on Fox at 5:30 pm eastern. The lionesses lost 2-1 to France in the game prior to USA versus Germany.

Featured image courtesy: @ussoccer_wnt

Come chat with me on twitter: @abigailgerken22