Seahawks receiver David Moore fielded some questions about future end zone celebrations Wednesday. The post-touchdown coordinations had become become a staple for Seattle last season, and reporters wanted to know about plans for 2019. The back-and-forth was entertaining, particularly when Moore mentioned that fellow receiver Tyler Lockett typically came up with the worst ideas. But let’s be honest: Those weren’t the celebrations everyone else was talking about Wednesday.

No, the big debate over the past couple days is whether the U.S. women’s soccer team stepped out of line during its 13-0 win over Thailand in its World Cup opener Tuesday. Celebrations after every goal prompted criticism from commentators, fans and former players, many of whom thought it was unsportsmanlike. There was also speculation from some — including USWNT coach Jill Ellis and former U.S. star Abby Wambach — that similar behavior from male athletes wouldn’t have spawned the same level of disapproval.

My thoughts? Depends on the question.

Was there anything wrong with the U.S. running up the score?

No. This is the World Cup, not a scrimmage, friendly or qualifier. It is reserved for the best national teams on the planet and should always be played with the highest intensity. Simply playing keep-away or going 10-on-11 would have been more insulting to Thailand than repeatedly trying to score.

Also, there’s a rule that you can only make three substitutions, so it’s not as though the U.S. could have just cleared out its bench.  This is probably a rule that should be adjusted if the goal disparity reaches a certain point, but Tuesday, the U.S. was limited in how much mercy it could show.

Lastly, goal differential can determine if a team advances out of pool play and where it is seeded in the knockout rounds. I think this point is being overblown, as it’s extremely unlikely that Chile or Sweden will score that many goals against Thailand, just as it’s extremely unlikely that the U.S. will lose to Chile in its next game (Chile is an 85-to-1 underdog.) Still, it’s a factor. Nothing wrong with Tuesday’s final score.


Did the players go too far in their celebrations?

In some cases yes, in some cases no. Alex Morgan, who scored a World Cup record five goals Tuesday, defended the late-game hurrahs by saying these were goals she and her teammates had been dreaming about their whole lives. Reign star Megan Rapinoe added that “the only crime was an explosion of joy.” Was it, though?

There was certainly nothing wrong with the early celebrations, when the game at least looked competitive (the U.S. led 3-0 at halftime.) Nor was there anything wrong with players mobbing the likes of Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh or Samantha Mewis, all of whom scored the first World Cup goals of their lives Tuesday.

But for Rapinoe, who came into the match with 44 international goals, to start pirouetting after making it 9-0? For Morgan to start counting the number of goals she scored on her fingers? For players to start doing leg kicks on the sidelines while leading by double digits? That’s too much.

To be fair, they weren’t taunting their opponents. In fact, forward Carli Lloyd trying to console the Thai goalkeeper after the match was one of the more touching moments of the day. But when you go too far, you should get called out. That’s all that happened here.

Would a men’s team have faced the same level of criticism?

Yes. First off, the most pointed criticism of the U.S. women likely came from an all-female panel on TSN in Canada, which labeled the late-game antics as “classless.” Former U.S. goalie Hope Solo called the celebrations “overboard” and ESPN commentator Julie Foudy said the dancing on the sideline was excessive. This wasn’t just a bunch of dudes chiding women.


Secondly, male athletes and coaches are constantly taken to task for their lack of sportsmanship. Just look at Seattle.

Richard Sherman was skewered for his taunting of Michael Crabtree during and after the NFC Championship game. Doug Baldwin caught flak for his fake defecation in the Super Bowl a year later, just as Michael Bennett did for trying to bust through an offensive line that was in victory formation, or Marshawn Lynch for grabbing his crotch while diving into the end zone. And when Pete Carroll was still at USC, he was clearly upset by Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh going for a two-point conversion in the final minutes of a 55-21 victory.

From Charles Barkley elbowing an opponent during the United States’ rout of Angola, to LeBron James refusing to shake any Magic players’ hands after a playoff series loss, to Terrell Owens dancing on the Dallas Cowboys’ star, negative ink always follows regardless of gender. In other words, if the Seahawks receivers break out a new end-zone dance upon taking a 49-point lead, they’re gonna get ripped.

Will any of this matter by next week?

No. Nothing egregious took place Tuesday. The U.S. women may have upset some fans, but it’s doubtful they lost any. This was your standard news-cycle story that will fade to oblivion by the weekend. Unless, of course, the U.S. beats Chile by 14.