Simply put, we’re currently living in a golden age for women’s sports, and women’s sports coverage in general. The U.S. women just took home the World Cup last spring in front of raucous crowds across Canada, while other sports like basketball and tennis seem healthier than they’ve ever been.
But the truth is that it hasn’t always been that way, and one person who has seen that evolution from the beginning is Julie Foudy. The former U.S. women’s soccer star broke onto the national team in 1991, back when coverage for the sport was next to non-existent, and exposure was limited at best.
A lot has changed since then, and Foudy sat down with Fox Sports to discuss it all, at a dinner held on International Women’s Day by ANA Inspiration, the first major championship on the LPGA Tour.
Foudy was a special guest at the event, and talked about the relationship between women’s soccer players and golfers, and as well as the evolution of women’s sports coverage in general.
So I would start by discussing this event we’re at tonight. We all saw the speeches (made by Cristie Kerr and other prominent athletes in attendance), it was all very inspiring, which of course is in the title of the event. As someone who has seen the development and evolution of women’s sports from the ground up, how cool is it to be at an event like this?
I love it.
We’ve actually had a long relationship with golf, the soccer gals. So it’s always fun when you can merge the two words together. One of our dear friends with our (women’s national) team is Meg Mallon and (also) Beth Daniel. Beth Daniel has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for golf, Juli Inkster is a friend. The ‘old bags’ as we all call each other.
We’ve known Meg and Beth for years. We’d go to Solheim Cups and cheer them on, and they would come to World Cups, so it was neat.
And any time female athletes are together to talk about sports it’s a bonus.
Where does the relationship come from soccer and golf come from?
I did some work with Meg Mallon’s brother, back in the 1990’s. He found out I was a golf fan and my husband is a huge golf fan, and he said ‘My sister is Meg Mallon.’ And I said ‘No way, I was just watching Meg the other day’ and so we started talking.
So we were in town to do a camp, Mia (Hamm) and myself, and a couple other players. We were in Colorado. This was pre-1999, this was probably 1997, ’98. So we sat down with Beth and Meg, this was Mia and myself, and I think Kristine Lilly, and we sat down at a bar one time and the first thing they said is ‘Oh God, thank God you drink. I thought I was going to have to hide my pints.’
So ever since then we’ve been close with Meg and Beth.
And then I got to know a lot of the LPGA crew. And of course Mia is a big golfer, and Brandi (Chastain) as well. And they came to the 1999 World Cup, we’ve got to quite a few Solheim Cups that they’ve captained, so it’s been a neat relationship.
Let’s talk soccer a little bit. So as we discussed you’ve been around for a while. We know the U.S. Women won the World Cup this past summer (on Fox and FS1), but just talk about the growth of the U.S. Women’s National Team to where it is now. How different is it from when you came up?
Back in the day, it was such a big deal, one, because we were doing it in big stadiums, but the second thing is, all the games were on TV, not just the US games. (I remember), we were like ‘What? They’re going to do all games on TV?’ […]