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a rainy day in June, with Canada out of the women's FIFA cup, and a B+ in...

So Canada is out of the FIFA cup. I did not get to see it live; I had to go and write a test at the time. Now I just finished watching the replay.

So, they had dreams of winning the cup. So did the other eight teams. What is this, the narcissistic "we have to win because we are so great"? Until lately Canada was not a factor at all in international gal soccer; did not even have a team. So, what do you want?

It makes a connection in my mind to the scene at the end of my latest visit to paralegal school. The prof is a moonlighting defense lawyer. He is a very laid back person. From some of his anecdotes, it seems like most of his family are in the Russian mafia in Toronto and provide him about half of his work.

But he does not want any of us to fail. If we did really terribly, he said, we could write the test over again. So somebody who got over 90% asked to write it over again. She thought maybe she could get it even higher. This slightly flipped the prof out.

Her thinking is a bit strange, because we all could fail all the way through this and it does not matter. It is the qualifying exam from the law society that counts. The prof says he got lousy marks all the way through law school. But nobody had really bad marks on this test, including me.

But getting back to the ball kickers, there is a tradition in Canadian international competition of the country expecting the teams to do brilliantly but not wanting to support them materially. Usually, countries with strong women's national teams are those with well organized professional women's leagues. Given that, it is surprising how well the Canadian women's soccer team does. The same holds for the ice hockey team.

It is very hard to get a new league going, to build up interest in the sport, build an audience. Usually, it requires some government support. Usually, when business people get involved and it becomes a profit center, the quality of play declines.

But in Canada we have this "free enterprise" and "government can't do anything" nonsense imposed on us. So, our best players go to the states and play in the league down there, refining their skills where they can at least make a living at it. Yet many of them want to come back every year and play for the national team; for good old Canada.

It is even worse in hockey, where there is a women's league that calls itself professional but where the players do not really get paid. They have to juggle jobs. They used to have to pay in order to be allowed to play. American women hockey players also play in this league ( CWHL).

There is a bigger pool of good Canadian hockey players, but the Americans usually win at worlds because there is support for their team. Canadian women usually take the Olympic gold because olympic years are the only times Ottawa wakes up and provides the funds to train and organize properly.

It really is sad that Canada has one of the best soccer players in the world in Christine Sinclair, and a few other good players, but little depth. So Sinclair has carried the team for a long time but she will retire eventually. She almost single handedly created interest in the sport in Canada but it has not translated into improvements to the soccer infrastructure. National team players are still just supposed to appear by magic when needed.

It must be melancholy to have spent your best years training to be the best possible athlete, and when you start closing in on forty, to have little to show for it and nothing else to go to that will give the same adrenaline rush, belonging, and whatever else drives these folks. Well, they get a few medals. But there are no pensions for retired athletes.

Someone is making a hell of a lot of money off those ticket sales, and all the advertising, and it isn't the players.

But that said, Christine, I do not think you should cry too much over never getting a FIFA championship. There is lots of competition and only one winner every four years. Didn't you get an olympic bronze medal awhile back? That is something to look at on your mantle when you are old and grey, and living on a government pension.

Obviously you have made your own mind up about the old dilemma of throwing one's life into striving for the ultimate experience, the ultimate achievement. Or, to just live a quite, comfortable life, taking care of yourself first. The former was never an option for me; circumstances forced the latter course on me.

Of course there are some who never learn how to live at all. Just like the strange individual yesterday who seemed to completely miss the point of writing the test. Ideally, it is to show yourself what you have learned. It is not a contest with anyone. No one is selling tickets to see her score 100%. So what is her reward for it?

So, Christine, savor the days of glory while you can. Hopefully we will see you and some of your jolly crew again in Brazil next year and in France in 2019.

tr

P.S. With Canada out of it, I can now focus on my other big interest, the Japanese team. I would love to see them stick it to the yankee skankees just like at the last world cup.