My 12-month old daughter isn't allowed to watch TV yet. She's just starting to get the concepts of shapes and colors. And yet that didn't stop me from sitting her down in front of the TV to watch part of the U.S. Soccer vs. Japan Women's World Cup Final on Sunday.
"Those women prove that you can do anything you set your mind to," I told her. "There are millions of me all over the country watching these women with total respect. That could be you in 24 years."
And then I gave her a water bottle to keep her occupied for the next two hours.
Unfortunately, the Americans lost in the end. They were at the wrong end of a thrilling contest that saw the U.S. take the lead twice, but give it away again each time. The Americans wasted countless chances in the first half while they dominating possession, and the Japanese ultimately made them pay. Japan had a mental edge once the game entered penalty kicks, and they used it to their advantage to capture their first Women's World Cup title.
I should have used this moment as yet another learning opportunity for my daughter. This is what it feels like to be a D.C. sports fan. She should prepare herself for a full lifetime of moments like this.
So what if the United States women were the top ranked team in the world? That's what the Washington Capitals were two years ago. Being the top team entering the Stanley Cup playoffs didn't help Alex Ovechkin the past two years any more than it helped Alex Morgan on Sunday. Expecting a team to win seems to make it even more likely that they'll lose.
We've seen it for years with the Washington Redskins as well. They enter the season with high hopes of a deep playoff run, and end the season several weeks before the actual best teams in the league. The Nationals, Wizards, and D.C. United are all in the process of rebuilding. They've experienced more losses lately than they'd like you to remember.
But that doesn't mean we'll stop trying. We're American after all. Resilience is in our blood.
The U.S. women might have a hard time replacing Abby Wambach, who will be 35 by the next Women's World Cup. But other than Wambach and captain Christie Rampone, a great number of the American women will be in their prime in four years. Morgan will be 26 and hopefully ready to step up as the lead striker. Defenders Rachel Buehler and Becky Sauerbrunn will each still be in their 20's as well. The majority of this team still has much more to give. They'll have a good chance again in 2015.
The Capitals and the rest of the teams in the D.C. market will have their chances again too. They won't stop trying. They're resilient too. Maybe my daughter will eventually get to see one of them win a championship in her lifetime. But I'm still not sure that I will in mine.