Britt McHenry: Don’t diss the USWNT -- Men embrace emotion in sports, women should be allowed to do the same

One golf clap never resonated so loudly.

For those unfamiliar with putting greens, a golf clap is a restrained, demonstrative show of approval. Perfect for when trying to act understated in celebration ... or when signaling critics to -- politely -- shove it.

U.S. women’s national soccer team star Carli Lloyd used the subtle gesture in response to critics who had lambasted the team for so-called egregious celebrations in the 13-0 thrashing of Thailand.

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During the team's latest victory against Chile, Carli and her teammates golf clapped to each other after goals scored. That deliberate action received as many headlines as the stories ridiculing the players' celebratory behavior a game earlier.

Instead of scrutinizing the sportsmanship of the USWNT, the press should be highlighting the fact that Lloyd -- one of the oldest members of the team -- is arguably in the best shape of her life. She scored two goals against Chile in the 11th minute and 35th minute and became the first player to score six consecutive Women’s World Cup Goals. That’s right. She beat the illustrious Mia Hamm at a record. And along with forward Alex Morgan, she is the current face of women’s soccer, adored and admired by little girls everywhere.

United States' Carli Lloyd celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between the United States and Chile at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Sunday, June 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

United States' Carli Lloyd celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between the United States and Chile at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Sunday, June 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Let’s get one thing straight: This isn’t the recreational soccer league down at the local YMCA. This is the World Cup -- an event so prestigious and rare, it occurs once every four years. It features the cream of the crop of international soccer. So, if that cream is stale on the Thailand roster, pass the tissues to someone else. The fault is in Thailand’s lack of preparation and development, not the jubilation of our country’s top athletes celebrating their camaraderie and success.

For a few days, I let the uproar over this "controversy" slide. In a click-bait culture, there will always be a contingency of people, no matter how large or small, who get upset about something -- anything. This former soccer player is happy just watching our ladies tear it up on the field and continue to advance in Group F. But eventually, the hypocrisy needed to be called out.

For a few days, I let the uproar over this "controversy" slide. In a click-bait culture, there will always be a contingency of people, no matter how large or small, who get upset about something -- anything. This former soccer player is happy just watching our ladies tear it up on the field and continue to advance in Group F. But eventually, the hypocrisy needed to be called out.

First of all, do we pile on hockey players who celebrate their goals, like Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin who bangs into the boards every game night after a goal? Or teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov who flaps his arms like a bird? A few trolls chug beers and jeer at them, but mostly we all celebrate their celebrations.

The amateur soccer etiquette enforcers were nowhere to be found when the 2018 Stanley Cup champions were drunkenly diving and doing water angels in fountains around the Washington D.C. region. (Full disclosure, this writer is a Capitals fan, so no hate towards them allowed).

Apparently, judging by the absurd and unwanted criticism of the USWNT, we now need to regulate NFL touchdown dances, the chest-bumps and arm flexes after every NBA dunk, and every golfer who fist pumps and screams like Tiger Woods or breaks their club over their leg like Patrick Reed.

Men embrace emotion in sports; women should be allowed to do the same.

Lloyd’s demure and witty use of golf's iconic gesture of restrained approval was perfect. No words needed to be spoken, no press conference rants needed; the 36-year-old knew it would send a message.

Always the classy professional, the four-time World Cup veteran put every shock jock or arm-chair warrior to shame. If we celebrate men reacting to their athletic feats in a similar fashion, then we should remain consistent in how we treat women accomplishing their goals.

Bonus points to Lloyd for simultaneously giving a shout out to her golf-pro husband.

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Team USA needs our full support when they play Sweden on Thursday. Once again, they’re the favorite to win, but Sweden has always presented defensive agitation for the U.S. (and was the source of Hope Solo’s career-ending ire two years ago).

Support the women’s goals and subsequent celebrations instead of raining on the parade. Otherwise, you’re the one truly guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct.

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