Twenty years ago, a 12-year-old girl in Pennsylvania watched as Brandi Chastain scored a game-winning goal on a penalty kick, ripped off her shirt and celebrated with her teammates as the Women's National Team won their second World Cup.
It was an image that became iconic, a symbol of female strength, empowerment, and success. That moment gave that young girl hope and a belief that she could succeed, athletically and professionally, and that she was an equal amongst her male peers.
Yesterday, a 32-year-old woman watched with pride as the Women's National Team— under heavy scrutiny amidst on and off the field controversy, scored two second-half goals to defeat the Netherlands 2-0— capture their fourth World Cup along with the hearts and imaginations of the next generation of young girls across the country.
The U.S. Women's National Team is the best in the world. And they make no apologies for it. Nor should they. They don't apologize for the hours that they put it, the time missed with family and friends, the time that is required to be the best in the world.
They don't apologize for having the audacity to ask to be paid at a rate that is equivalent to their male counterparts, who drove home the disparity between the programs by falling to Mexico 1-0 in the finals of the Gold Cup just hours after the women held up the World Cup trophy in Lyon.
And they don't apologize for setting an example for the millions of girls across America who watched Sunday's World Cup final against the Netherlands, for instilling in them the idea that women can achieve success at the highest levels, whether it's on the pitch or in an office.
Sorry— but they're not sorry. Nor should they be.