As we made our way over the mountains two days ago, I did my best to follow the US Women's soccer semi-final game against England.
Though I wasn't able to stream it, there were pockets of cell service where I could update the live feed feature on the ESPN app.
I began keeping track of the game when it was 1-1 in the first half. Then after only a couple of minutes, I noticed the score had quickly changed to 2-1. The live feed read, "Goal - Alex Morgan, Header."
I sent a few high-fives around the van and then saw a still picture of Morgan taking a sip of imaginary tea with her pinky up in celebration. I thought it was funny and brilliant.
Little did I know there would be both English and US backlash calling her arrogant, disrespectful, a bad sport, and even brought politics into it.
This is a game. Games are supposed to be fun. Goal celebrations, just like touchdown celebrations in American football have always been a fun way of victorious expression.
Morgan said this in a post-game interview speaking of her tea-sipping, "I wanted to keep it interesting. I know Megan Rapinoe has the best celebration. I had to try and step us this game."
I can never imagine playing a game without some level of trash-talking. Or, sensitivity at such heights you aren't able to jab at your opponent some when you succeed. Not at an unsportsmanlike level, but at a gamesmanship level.
A true competitor respects this part of their opponents game. They don't cry about it and get their feelings hurt.
They applaud their opponent's creativity and understand as long as they are still breathing, they may get another shot at payback. They burn the image of their rival's celebration into their mind and use that as motivation.
I've always told my athletes, if you don't like it, get better. And at that point, you can let your game do the talking. Then, if the situation calls for it, like Miss Morgan, you sip your tea.
Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone has a fantastic day!!