It’s all about the team

I have said it many times in this column and will do so again – the team is far greater than any individual.

That was proven in the United States’ 5-2 victory over Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final Sunday in Vancouver.

Abby Wambach, who has scored the most goals (183) of anyone in international competition, was nothing more than a last-game substitute.

Never whined.

Never complained.

Mom never ripped on Jill Ellis.

Dad never stood at the gate a put up a 2-year-old screaming match with the American coaching staff.

One nation.

One team.

23 stories.

Wambach played every minute of the 3-1 opening win over Australia.

Christen Press was replaced by Tobin Heath in the 68th minute.

Sydney Leroux was replaced by Alex Morgan in the 79th minute.

In the scoreless draw with Sweden, Amy Rodriguez replaced Morgan Brian in the 58th minute, Wambach replaced Press in the 68th minute and Morgan replaced Leroux in the 78th minute.

In the 1-0 win over Nigeria, Leroux replaced Morgan in the 66th minute, Shannon Boxx replaced Megan Rapinoe in the 75th minute and Christie Rampone replaced Heath in the 80th minute.

See a pattern?

In the 2-0 defeat of Columbia, Brian came in the 69th minute for Wambach, Press the 75th minute for Rapinoe and Lori Chalupny the 81st minute for Ali Krieger.

Pattern?

In the quarterfinal match with China, Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday were not available because they accrued too many yellow cards and watched from the stands.

Ellis inserted Rodriguez and Kelley O’Hara (who had not played a second in the previous matches) and they were just outstanding.

Press replaced O’Hara in the 61st minute, Heather O’Reilly replaced Morgan in the 81st minute and Wambach replaced Rodriguez in the 86th minute.

Again, see a pattern?

Well, here’s one – the best scorer in the history of the international game (men or women) played a whopping 5-ish minutes.

Yeah, you know the one who scored the only goal against Nigeria and the same person who didn’t come off the pitch early in the tournament.

So, soccer mom and soccer dad, how much would you have been fuming after that game because Sally or Bobby sat the bench?

In the 2-0 semifinal victory over Germany, that O’Hara young lady scored the clincher in the 84th minute, 15 minutes after Carli Lloyd buried a penalty kick.

O’Hara replaced Heath in the 75th minute, Wambach replaced Rapinoe in the 80th minute and Leroux replaced Morgan in the 93rd minute.

In the scintillating championship contest, in which the Americans put the pedal to the metal early and made a huge statement, O’Hara replaced Rapinoe in the 61st minute, Wambach replaced Heath in the 79th minute and Rampone replaced Morgan in the 86th minute.

Whitney Engen, Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher never got into a game.

Boxx, Rampone, Chalupny and O’Reilly played sparingly and Rodriguez had one big chunk of minutes.

Yet, they are ALL world champions.

I listened to radio interviews and read where all they talked about was the team this and the team that.

The three who never got into the game were just as valuable as Lloyd, believe it or not.

They could have sulked and whined and complained about the lack of playing time.

Their families could have been behind them whispering, “go ahead and quit. It’s OK to quit. You have no playing time, so just quit.”

STOP.

Athletics are eventually won and lost on the field because a scoreboard has been turned on.

But, no one sees the hard work and sweat in practice.

Practice makes a team.

Practice makes a teammate.

Brian went from playing mop-up minutes in the first game to not coming off the field in the championship match.

Does that happen if her attitude is selfish?

Does that happen if her negativity spreads throughout the team?

Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, brothers, sisters and all other members of the family have to understand that being a member of the team means giving up individuality.

What is best for the team?

That’s all that matters.

I’m not saying everything is perfect with each and every team, but the sun will rise the next day and your child will put on that uniform again and all they want is your support.

Be there as a place to fall. A place to encourage. A place to embrace the challenge ahead.

Since 95 percent of all high school athletes do not play a sport in college, quit expecting your child to be in that five percent.

In 10 years in this chair, I have been surprised more than once about high school athletes who have no problem hanging them up once high school is over.

If fact, in many instances, the parents took it harder than the athlete.

Sitting the bench never hurt anyone.

Every member of a team is a role player.

Some members of the team have larger roles than others.

I will never understand why that is so hard to grasp.

Enjoy the work.

Enjoy the opportunity.

Enjoy the challenge.

Enjoy being a teammate.

Enjoy being a parent – just not THAT parent.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com, followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike and is on the radio weekday mornings from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. with Joey Klepack and from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturdays on WEIR-AM)