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Gold Stars For The Red Stars

The Red Stars are on the board! And they did it just before the National Women's Soccer League gets swamped by other sports, at least on standard TV, cable and satellite. On streaming services? The Red Stars still have a great chance to dominate that platform this summer, especially among young fans, which is almost exactly redundant.

And how glorious was it that Naperville's Casey Short scored the critical (indeed only) goal! It is the ultimate local angle combined with the ultimate Black Lives Matter angle given that Short made national news with her emotional taking of a knee with teammate Julie Ertz when the NWSL tournament started two weeks ago.

National team goalie Alyssa Naeher made Short's goal stand up with three sparkling saves on the way to the shutout. After the preliminary NWSL round-robin wraps up Monday, the teams are seeded into quarterfinals later this week.

Hopefully in the coming years we can have a fundamental rearrangement of spectator sports in the media. My soccer-loving older daughter Alana, who will begin her freshman year at Syracuse next month and who is all about participatory sports, is interested in watching women's soccer. She will occasionally stop by her dad and settle in to watch whatever soccer happens to be on at any given point, but if you want her to get completely into it, it needs to be women's soccer.

And that soccer is now available to her on her devices, pretty much any time. It isn't free but what is these days other than NFL football, where the teams are already so rich they don't need streaming fees or anything media fees. Outfits like ESPN can't throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the NFL fast enough.

One thing I knew for certain as I struggled (OK I didn't really struggle thanks to the miracle of search engines but I think you know what I'm saying) to find video of Short's goal. Alana and my 21-year-old son Noah would have found it in about two seconds. It took me longer. And Noah, the huge young spectator sport fan in our house, has been fired up to watch the Red Stars this past week.

Noah will be a huge sports consumer no matter what. He is just like his parents in that he is happy to settle in and watch just about any high-level sport that happens to make it onto our TV these days.

Alana, on the other hand, is much more of a sophisticated online shopper. And so are her friends. Keep that in mind, potential sponsors of sports in the media. What's that, you already are? There I am falling behind yet again.

My other daughter Jenna is four years younger than Alana. She will sit and watch a cooking show or a Windy City Rehab type thing. And she has binged her way through every episode of Friends and the (I think) 18 seasons of Grey's Anatomy.

Will she become a streaming sports fan? I'll give you a hint: If you put live SEC, Big Ten or Pac 12 gymnastics in front of her, she will be enthralled. That would be women's gymnastics, of course.

Stanford made big news last week when it announced it would shut down a dozen non-revenue sports. Many hands were wringed and teeth were gnashed. Except for one thing: Who, outside of Palo Alto proper, gives a rat's ass about Stanford fencing, field hockey, rowing, sailing, synchronized swimming, sailing, men's volleyball and wrestling?

The only thing those sports have been good for is for rich monsters like Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin to scam their kids into schools like Stanford even though those kids don't have an iota of athletic talent and the kids know it.

Then again, the best athlete to ever attend Bell, my kids' CPS elementary school, is a young man named Clayton Mendez. Mendez was a great basketball player in middle school, at least he was a great North Side player (and always remember guys like longtime pro - after he started for a national championship team at Kansas - Sherron Collins and youngster Markese Jacobs - last I checked he was still on the roster at DePaul - have grown up on the North Side).

Mendez quit basketball after the eighth grade. He knew his chance for absolute greatness was distance running and he has been killing himself in training day after day for the past five years to be one of the world's great Steeplechase runners. He richly deserved his full ride to Stanford. His story and those of other meaningful young athletes are the ones my kids want to see on their screens.

The Red Stars are in the vanguard. So is the NBA (and the WNBA), for that matter. Something tells me Major League Baseball ain't gonna make it.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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