Are Mean Soccer Girls Unacceptable or are We All Just Overreacting?

BlogHer Original Post

As soon as I saw the Elizabeth Lambert video I knew that I would be writing about her this week. Elizabeth is the "mean girl" soccer player that was suspended for rough play this week. She is the girl who was caught on video punching another player in the back and pulling hair.

If you watch this video it looks terrible.

A lot of people were shocked and offended when they saw this clip.

But this video looks different to me.

I am not saying that this excuses her behavior. I do not think that anyone (perhaps anyone outside of WWE wresting anyway) should be pulling other people to the ground using their hair.

What I am saying is that while Elizabeth Lambert certainly overreacted and was clearly unsportmanlike, her competitors were elbowing her too. Why isn't anyone upset about that?

And have none of us ever watched a soccer game before?

Soccer can be a tough game and it appears that’s especially true in the Mountain West Conference. Footage of the conference semifinal game in Provo, Utah – where BYU beat New Mexico 1-0 – has been making the rounds and not for any of the right reasons.

Why is it that the only time women’s sports make the nightly news is when the players cross the line? Last summer, an on-court brawl between the Detroit Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks was front page news. Now, game footage of the BYU – New Mexico match is being rerun on ESPN and major network news shows.

The two teams in question combined for what would seem like a stunning 25 fouls, however according to The Sporting Blog, that’s actually not a huge number:

"In the three games of last year’s Women’s Final Four, there were 23, 24, and 33 fouls. The shocker is that only one yellow card came out in this game, which seems wildly out of proportion to the amount of brutality in the above video."

- Jane, Pretty Tough

See? I don't want you to think that I approve of Lambert's actions, but soccer is a violent sport. It is like the only things anyone knows about women's soccer is Brandi Chastain in a sports bra and this Elizabeth Lambert debacle.

It is a fantastic image, but did anyone actually watch the game? Would anyone be freaking out if this was a men's soccer game? I doubt it.

As usual, Laurie White says it best:

...I think a lot of times more force than necessary is used on athletic fields, but I’ve never been out there so I don’t know what it’s like. I do know that winning is a huge expectation in high stakes games and pressure drives people to crazy behavior. I’m not sure that’s always a good idea. And whereas I do believe strongly in accountability I think it’s sad that of all the things a highly competitive, talented female athlete can be known for in her collegiate career, it boils down to headlines with words like “dirty” and “violent,” and stupid, videotaped, aggressive behavior. I’m sure she can do way better. Let’s hope she does from now on, no matter who’s watching.

- Draft Day Suit

Elizabeth Lambert has been indefinitely suspended from The University of New Mexico's athletics department and she has issued an apology.

I still think the issue is that the violence was done by a woman. This type of brutality is not at all uncommon in men's soccer.

Soccer Hooligans are famous for rioting. I guess Americans just aren't used to seeing this kind of thing from the ladies in their colleges. I think Elizabeth Lambert deserved to be suspended. I think she acted inappropriately, but I also think the outrage is coming from people who don't watch soccer.

Contributing Editor Sarah also blogs at Sarah and the Goon Squad and MamaPop.

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