And the half-full stands are mostly populated by little girls, some of whom are still clutching hand-painted signs squealing that they love Mia. I read that Greg Ryan received some hearty boos when he was introduced in Portland, and a few fans have been photographed with anti-Ryan, anti-sorority system signs, but for the most part it appears to be business as usual. Meaningless games against an overmatched opponent, with the old guard getting too many minutes.
It's a year until the Beijing Olympics. After the World Cup exposed the fatal weaknesses in the team and the system, preparation should have begun on the plane ride home. But Solo's heat-of-the-moment words shifted the rally point from we must be better than this to our aging heroines must be venerated. Now it's simply a matter of waiting until January, when Ryan's contract expires, to see the direction the Federation chooses to go. New blood, creativity, and merit-based team selection, or the hegemony of the '99ers? That decision will let me know whether I can start caring again.
In other sad sporting news, Notre Dame has decided to honor its 1977 national championship by busting out the throwback uniforms this week. Against USC. Do you really honor a championship team by sending this year's mostly incompetent lot out in costumes to the slaughter? Does slapping on a Superman t-shirt and cape give me the ability to fly? I do not think so. Maybe they'll surprise me--this season has been completely unpredictable, after all--but come on. The green jerseys sparked an unbelievable fire under the '77 team when they walked back into the locker room after the pregame warmup, but the most recent outings in green have not gone so well for the Irish. Tomorrow, oh god, I'll watch, but I'll avert my eyes.