America#039;s women athletes truly inspire

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

With the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics all but a memory, we think it is important to reflect for a moment on an often-overlooked aspect of the Olympics - the public attention given to America's female athletes.

In addition to taking home nearly half of the medals awarded to the United States' athletes, many of the female team USA members seem to represent some of the best characteristics in sports.

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One of the most lasting, most patriotic memories from this summer's Olympic games was the footage of the United States women's soccer team standing on the medal platform, having just been awarded gold medals for their world class performance.

As the camera panned down the row of players, we couldn't help but feel a lump in our throats as we watched these bright, talented athletes.

With wide smiles shining, each member of the group was singing along as America's national anthem was played.

The hundreds and hundreds of hours these athletes have dedicated to the love of their sport had paid off.

In a world in which society often forces little girls to grow up too soon, it's nice to know that the girls have such good-hearted role models to guide them through childhood.

Women's sports are a fascinating field. For the most part, the women who perform at the Olympics will rarely reap the fortunes garnered by their professional male counterparts.

Aside from a few endorsement deals given to the most popular female athletes, most of why they perform at the Olympics is simple: The competitiveness and the fun.

Certainly, few would argue that the popularity of women's sports pale in comparison to their male counterparts.

If enthusiasm for one's sport, the camaraderie of one's teammates and sheer fun, are ever considered as determinants of popularity, the women of the United States Olympics team - and the young generations they inspire - will certainly be up to the challenge.