Morgan's teacup gesture in U.S. win over England just good fun

  • United States' Alex Morgan celebrates after scoring her side's second goal during the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match between England and the United States, at the Stade de Lyon, outside Lyon, France, Tuesday, July 2, 2019.

    United States' Alex Morgan celebrates after scoring her side's second goal during the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match between England and the United States, at the Stade de Lyon, outside Lyon, France, Tuesday, July 2, 2019.

 
 
Updated 7/5/2019 7:18 PM

"Teacup-gate" has been overblown.

When soccer star Alex Morgan pretended, with pinkie finger up, that she was drinking a cup of tea after she scored the winning goal Tuesday in the U.S. national team's Women's World Cup 2-1 semifinal victory over England, you would have thought her middle finger was out instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Plenty of criticism for Morgan, on Twitter, in news articles, on TV.

There is sometimes a fine line between good fun and good sportsmanship, but I think Morgan's goal celebration, which wasn't directed at anyone in particular, and wasn't overly flamboyant, was well within the realm of good fun.

Actually, it was rather clever. Tea … England. Pinkies up!

Now, if the U.S. women, who also were criticized for excessive celebrations after late goals in a 13-0 drubbing of Thailand in the opening round, show up Sunday for their championship game against the Netherlands wearing wooden clogs instead of soccer cleats, then maybe we'll need to revisit this conversation.

That might be considered actual mocking, a bit over the line.

But the tricky thing about sports is that the "line" is inherently blurred by the fact that there is an entertainment element involved in sports. Entertainers of all kinds are constantly pushing up against the line for, well, entertainment value.

I don't mind it, within reason.

I actually like it when athletes have some fun and show some real, unfiltered emotion and personality while they are competing. It's why the demonstrative Diana Taurasi is one of my favorite WNBA players ever. Not everyone likes Taurasi's cocky demeanor or the fact that she routinely challenges officials.

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But I like that human element. I like the color, I like the personality. I like it when athletes allow themselves to react rawly and competitively in the moment, and when they don't always act like preprogrammed robots on the field.

It makes sports feel a little more authentic.

That doesn't mean athletes need to be unsportsmanlike jerks. Being cruel, targeting specific players on the opposing team, engaging in over-the-top gestures or actions that are clearly vulgar or bigoted isn't in the spirit of good fun in sports.

But Morgan's celebration was none of that. Her celebration hurt no one, targeted no one in particular.

Her clever bit of color and fun was refreshing to me and probably has created an even greater widespread interest in her and her team, and in women's soccer in general.

It all makes me wonder what's in store for Sunday, when the U.S. women aim for their second straight World Cup championship.

How will they make this game even more entertaining? How will they celebrate this win?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A fun game, with athletes having fun, would be fun to watch.

Underdog Dutch: Yes, I asked how will the U.S. celebrate its win.

The Netherlands is the clear underdog in Sunday's Women's World Cup Finale (10 a.m., Fox).

While the U.S. is out to win its second straight World Cup title, the Netherlands is competing in just its second World Cup ever. Last year was the first time the Netherlands qualified for the World Cup.

WNBA all-stars: Former Sky star Elena Delle Donne is the leader in fan votes for the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game with more than 20,000 votes. Delle Donne is the engine behind the red-hot Washington Mystics, who own the best record in the league at 9-3. The Mystics have won a league-high five straight games, including a June 26 victory over the Chicago Sky.

Speaking of the Sky, which has dropped four straight and is looking to stop its skid Sunday when the Dallas Wings visit Wintrust Arena (5 p.m.), three players are getting notable all-star votes: Diamond DeShields, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley.

All-star voting, which can be done at wnba.com, ends Tuesday.

Coco keeps it coming: At just 15, Cori "Coco" Gauff is setting Wimbledon on fire.

On Monday, she upset one of her idols, 39-year-old Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion. On Wednesday, Gauff, an African-American who grew up in Florida and closely watched the Williams sisters as she learned the game, won again and has advanced to the third round.

Gauff became the youngest player to win a match at Wimbledon since 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati was victorious in 1991.

• pbabcock@dailyherald.com

• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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