The celebration that took place on Thursday after the US women’s soccer team beat Japan to win the gold medal looked more like the postgame festivities of a Super Bowl than an Olympic event. The parading around with the American flag was standard, but then out came the custom-made t-shirts. Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and company pranced around in Nike t-shirts that read “Greatness Has Been Found” across the front of them. Over the past 24 hours or so, those shirts have been the source of a great deal of criticism.
“USA players have donned t-shirts reading ‘Greatness has been found,’” Canadian writer Jerrad Peters wrote on Twitter after the match. “That, in a nutshell, is why no one outside the US likes them.”
The backlash was not only handed out by writers and fans from abroad, as many Americans also found the shirts to be a tasteless display of poor sportsmanship. Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times tweeted that the shirts showed no humility and called them “gross,” although he later clarified that his criticism was aimed at Nike and not the US players.
The US women’s team was also criticized earlier in the tournament for celebrating with cartwheels and other displays that opponents and fans thought were excessive. While it is easy to understand the excitement they were feeling at the moment they captured the gold — especially given the heart-breaking loss they suffered against Japan in the World Cup — they probably should have toned it down in retrospect. Olympic competition is supposed to bring sportsmanship to its own level, and it’s easy to see how a celebration that includes championship gear could irritate opposing countries.
H/T Off the Bench