There is tremendous local interest as the U.S. Women's National team plays Japan in the Women's World Cup soccer final on Sunday in Vancouver, B.C.
The U.S. women are going for their third World Cup title. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says their odds are pretty good.
Title IX Coming To Fruition
Thiel said the reason the U.S. women are so dominant has to do with something that happened more than 40 years ago.
"Starting in 1972, Title IX, which was a federally mandated order to equalize the opportunities for women athletes in major colleges, took effect. By 1978, everyone was in compliance," he said.
"What we're seeing 40 years later is a wonderful collection of athletes and coaches to make the U.S. dominant.
"It's unlike anything else in the world," Thiel continued. "A lot of people don't realize this but, from 1921 to 1971, England banned women's soccer. Germany did not give opportunities for women players until 1970.
"So this has been, really, a U.S. phenomenon. Now, Japan is catching up. Germany is catching up. But they're not quite there yet because the U.S. has so many opportunities in high school and in college. And particularly for soccer."
Soccer Interest Keeps Rising
"There have been studies done about participation in the various sports: soccer, volleyball, baseball/softball and basketball," Thiel said. "Soccer participation has been going up, up, up, while the others have been flat lining or even declining. But soccer has been really soaring.
"We're seeing in this World Cup the fruition of Title IX in so many ways."