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USA v. Chile, 2019 Women’s World Cup: What we Learned

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The USWNT was able to secure a ticket to the knockout stages of the World Cup with a 3-nil victory over Chile. Here’s a few notes about how the game enlightened us.

Soccer: Womens World Cup-USA Press Conference Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

The USWNT is into the knockout rounds of the World Cup! On the backs of two victories, one over Thailand and a 3-0 victory on Chile, the US stands top of the group, ready for the tests of the coming rounds. With a mere draw against Sweden, the US will advance, first of the four in the group, though they will surely test themselves against the Swedes. However, the US has not merely advanced thus far. They have done so in astonishing fashion, sweeping aside their challengers in an overwhelming manner. To help explain what happened in the most recent mind-bending outing, I have employed the help of three of France’s most prominent thinkers to explain the wonder that was the US against Chile.

Carli Lloyd explained with René Descartes

Put yourself aside for a brief moment. Now, please, ask yourself, have you ever had a moment where your senses have failed you? A moment where you heard your name called, but from nothing but thin air? Have you ever seen a dear friend in the crowd, only to realize that they are not there? Have you ever felt your hand jolt at the sensation of someone unexpectedly touching your hand, only to realize that you felt nothing? Trust nothing that you see or hear or feel or even smell. Even your thoughts are unreliable. After all, how can you know if they truly are yours and not inserted by someone else? It is already ever so simple for someone to affect one’s subconscious to, say, think of purple elephants, even as they vigorously wish to not think of purple elephants. That is to say, I request you to doubt everything. Doubt what you see and what you hear. Doubt your thoughts. Doubt the purple elephants. Doubt even your own existence. Doubt everything. Now ask, what is left?

Goals.

At least, for Carli Lloyd, when you doubt everything else, you still have goals. And therein lies the proof of existence. That mindless mindful pursuit of scoring is, itself, a testament to existence.

I score therefore I am.

That is all that Lloyd really needs. If you score, then you must surely be a scorer. Such a fact demonstrates that, indeed, when everything else is to be doubted, so long as Carli Lloyd scores, there is proof of consciousness.

From there, we can begin to remove our veil of doubt. For how could a world where Carli Lloyd scores be so cruel as to deny us everything else? How could it deny us the ability to celebrate and cherish such sublime beauty? Surely, it could not. So long as Carli Lloyd is there, so long as Carli Lloyd is scoring goals, we can have faith that the world before is indeed before us, at least in some shape or form.

I score therefore I am.

Montesquieu and Julie Ertz Debate Structure
(And the Tyranny of Ertz)

Montesquieu: There are but three components that make up a government before a people. You have the Judiciary, the Defenders of the People, you have the Legislators, the Writers and the representatives, and, finally, you have the Executors, those who execute the will of the government and provide the (sometimes brutal) stamp of authority. It is these three components, these three branches, that form the entirety of governing body over the sovereign. That truly comprise ALL governing bodies over their respective sovereigns.

It is of the utmost importance that each of these three bodies be kept as separate as possible. Because, surely, if two of these groups may be allowed to align themselves, they will reign tyranny over the people. Such is the nature of humanity, that, when given the chance, that one will seize power and bend it towards their own will. Greed is, alas, a powerful shadow looming over the minds of men.

The only defense the sovereign have against such tyranny is for the would-by tyrants to be set against each other. Power must be so divided such that the Defenders, the Writers, and the Executors cannot align. They must be set against each other, such that, when one inevitably overreaches, the others have the strength and will to fight back. It is thus that they can be held in check.

Ertz: I must admit that I agree that there are Defenders, Writers, and Executors. But I must vigorously disagree that the interests of the people lie in keeping them each in check. The only way for progress to be made is for the Defenders, Writers, and Executors to find common ground, to find cause and reason to cooperate and advance a common interest, for the betterment of the people. The sovereign are in the best hands when the virtuous are able to align and work cooperatively for an aligned interests. It is then, when the disparate powers are brought into alignment, that true progress can be made.

In truth, the powers of the Defenders, the Writers, and the Executors are often quite fluid. Surely, the Writers, as they stand for the ordinary and the creative and the strong in the governed, must take up the shield and defend. And, sometimes, it comes to the Defenders to set the script, to the fashion the framework for the Executors to strike. And sometimes, it is the stalwart Writer who must rise up and execute to achieve the goal, for the betterment of the people. In this way, true virtue in governance is in the complementariness of those in the three different lines of work. Virtue in governance arises from the cooperation of factions, not in their rivalry.

True tyranny stands when you have a clear will of the people and a government with a mandate, but a clear to determination to thwart and Endler those aspirations. We must be able to look upon the world with a clear focus on what is good for the people. It is executing that vision, striking when the moment arises, where virtue for the sovereign truly lies. It is the tyrant who defends against such justice and who Chile’s the will of the people.

The Panopticon of Jill Ellis

It is a testament of the self that we may choose how we act, that we have a will and ability to affect the world. However, what affect we may bring to ourselves and our environment fundamentally changes simply by adding one subtle change. Now, there is a pair of eyes watching your every movement. Ah, now you see, it is easier to dance alone than before the judgmental eye of a crowd.

It was the genius of Michel Foucault that realized that the behavior of individuals changes when they are observed. When other people are watching, we are afraid, afraid of how we will be perceived, anxious that if we act or choose poorly, we will fall short of the esteem of our peers. The mere act of observance constrains our will and ability. But it is not merely the act of surveillance that changes us. It is the possibility of surveillance that dictates our behavior. We do not need to be actively watched to have our actions, even our thoughts, contained. Merely the fear that we are being watched will bring the same effect.

It is with this insight that Foucault hypothesized his Panopticon. A structure that allows for the perfection of the constant possible observance of any group of people. You could build this panopticon and be able to watch every single prisoner in a jail and guarantee that they will act more in line. Or rather, that there is the possibility that anyone individual prisoner will be watched at any one moment, without any knowledge about whether that is true or not.

It is exactly this idea that Jill Ellis has seized upon. If behavior changes when cast beneath the glare of the watcher’s eye, what happens when one is put beneath the glare of the whole world? How exactly might they change? The nature of a televised soccer match is not that a player will know exactly when they will be called upon to act, nor when they will be watched. Rather, the camera is a fickle thing, jumping from one player to another, even as the ball does the same. The question becomes, when the moment comes, how will these supposed elite contenders behave?

It is with this question in mind that Ellis tested her depth players. How will Pugh and Press react in the most pressing of situations? How does Sonnett react when someone is staring? Does Davidson cut corners when the weight of the world presses down upon her? Or does she produce something beautiful and unexpected for the world to see, an act of rebellion against the tyranny of expectations? What exactly happens to Morgan Brian’s hamstrings when the world is watching intently? Do they snap? Evidently not.

It is these such questions that Ellis realized that she must ask. She realized that she must subject her players to the never-ending glare, to see how they are contained by the world as it watches. And to see what she truly has before her.


That’s all for now. The USWNT will return for their final group stage game against rivals Sweden on June 20th. The USMNT will have their Gold Cup debut on June 18th. No word yet if Albert Camus will join us for that one or not.