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Nike Is a Woman

The Germans may have won gold 2-0 at the FIFA Women's World Cup, but the Brazilians impressed just as much in their scoreless silver. On the FIFA website, the interview with Marta says it all, as she analyzes the game clinically, recognizes her teammates' spirited effort and the huge fan support for the Canarinhas, and comments how luck deserted her on a key penalty kick. The user comments by fans reveal how far Marta has emerged as an icon in women's football.

In the consolation match, the U.S. recouped from their dismal semi-final performance the other day, and bested Norway 4-1 for the bronze. Abby Wambach was the iconic player on our side. Our women played with spirit, overriding the damage to morale by the unfortunate lapse of keeper Solo, who had aired some beefs to the media.

I've always been fascinated that the ancient Greeks, though they were so very patriarchal, chose to personify Victory as a woman with wings. They barred human women from the ancient Olympic Games, yet they celebrated Nike's presence at the Games. Today the winged Victory still lives on in sports, from the famous shoe symbol to the many trophies where she is portrayed, notably the FIFA World Cup. Maybe the message here is that men may use their sheer strength to win at a moment in historical time, but women win with their own kind of strength, through pulling together, marshalling their resources and surviving adversity. These victories are lasting, and inspire by example. They're definitely the kind of wins that the top women's teams are bringing to world soccer competition. -- Patricia Nell Warren