Let’s be honest: U.S. women’s soccer was in a bad spot at 8:02 p.m. Central European time on July 10, 2011. On a crystal-clear day in Dresden, Germany, Brazil was seconds away from eliminating the Americans in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup. It was about to be the earliest World Cup exit in the history of the U.S. women’s team, to say nothing of the second straight time that Brazil had ended the U.S.’s World Cup dreams. Could it get much tougher than this? The U.S. was down 2-1 in the final moments of extra time—and down to 10 players. It was Hail Mary time.
But there was even more to the gloom than the this one particular game. American women’s soccer was struggling in general. The U.S. pro league, WPS, was about to become the second top-flight women’s league to go belly-up in less than a decade. Attendance at U.S. women’s games had dropped steadily since the heyday of Mia Hamm and the 1999 World Cup, with an average of just 5,654 fans showing up for games in the two-and-a-half years before World Cup ’11. The final U.S. send-off match before Germany 2011—just outside New York City—drew a paltry crowd of 5,852 to a stadium that seated nearly five times that many. Media coverage had declined, too: The only U.S. print outlets covering the team on-site for the entire World Cup were the Associated Press and USA Today.
…But if the U.S. needed a Hail Mary, it didn’t hurt to have Mary Abigail Wambach up top.
“I remember when I was doing “Rent” and I was too thin, and I was doing that on purpose because I’m dying, I’m a HIV+ drug addict. I remember having to eat raw food and doing all this work to make sure I could stay thin… And I remember everyone asking me when I was doing press for the movie, “what did you do to get so thin? You looked great!” and I’m like, “I looked emaciated.” It’s a form of violence in the way that we look at women and how we expect them to look and be, for… what’s sake? No…