In June of last year, I wrote this tribute to Christine Sinclair, Canada’s greatest ever soccer player of either gender. I think, in light of her Olympian performance, it deserves a repeat. Oh, and ignore my thoughts that Canada should go a long way in the Women’s World Cup… didn’t happen.

I know I’m opening myself up for criticism, but women’s team sports, as a rule, is a pale shadow of men’s team sports.

With the exception of Olympic hockey ­– in other words, Canada vs. U.S. – women’s hockey sucks.  A reasonably talented group of junior B boys can beat women’s teams nine times out of ten.

Same goes for soccer. The skill level is there, except the pace is so much slower than men’s soccer, it looks like it is being played under water.  Call me sexist if you like, but it’s true… women’s team sports just don’t hold a candle to men’s.

Now that I’ve got my female readers (if such a thing exists) screaming mad at me, take a deep breath. I come not to bury women’s soccer, but to praise it.

Or more particularly, one player, Canadian star Christine Sinclair.

The women’s World Cup of Soccer is underway in Germany right now, and the Canadian women have a very good chance of going a long way. Since Canada’s men’s soccer team consistently shames itself, the women’s team deserves our unreserved support. Canada played prohibitive favourite Germany in its first game Sunday, losing 2-1. The loss was expected, and would almost have gone unnoticed if it were not for Sinclair, the pugnacious, pug-nosed player from Burnaby, B.C.

Sinclair scored a cracker of a goal that any man would be proud of.

But more importantly, she scored it with a broken nose, administered by an errant German elbow. Sinclair went down in pain, and the medical staff rushed to her aid. But Sinclair shooed them away, told them she wanted to play, and promptly scored her world-class goal.

Now, hockey players are famous for playing with all manner of disfiguring injuries. Remember Ryan Smith, taking stitches to the mouth during the Oilers’ last Stanley Cup run, and then racing back onto the ice? That’s the hockey mentality.

But soccer has no such mentality. If anything, it’s the opposite.

Soccer’s enduring shame is the dive, the fake injury, the flop. Perfected by South American players, who see no shame in feigning injury, the non-injury injury has infected the game worldwide. I’m convinced that diving and fraudulent injuries are the single biggest reasons why soccer has been mostly shunned by Canadian sports fans. Nothing enrages me more than seeing a soccer player falling to the ground in a heap, grabbing his face in “pain”, being stretchered off, then bouncing off the stretcher and racing back into the game. It’s disgusting, and indefensible. But for some soccer cultures, it’s part of the game.

In the pansified world of soccer, one would be hard-pressed to find a male player who would shrug off a broken nose, and then score a goal. Christine Sinclair set an example for all the coddled, diving, shameless “men” players out there who have no qualms about making the least little boo-boo look like JFK at Dealey Plaza.

Yes, women’s soccer still sucks. But you’ve got to love Christine Sinclair.


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