More Bad News For US Soccer

The United States U17 team was crushed by Germany (4-0) in the Round of 16 at the U17 World Cup in Mexico.  Mexico beat Panama 2-0 to make the quarterfinals.

Now it’s important to remember that in the grand scheme of things the results of an underage World Cup mean relatively little.  These tournaments have some merit, but are generally taken too seriously.  Many a young “golden generation” could not make an impact on the senior level when it counted (see: Portugal at the 2002 World Cup.)  Furthermore, there is no shame in losing to Germany, although a 4-0 loss is a little hard to swallow.

Nevertheless, this is yet another indication that football in the US in not on the right track.  At all levels save for the senior US Women’s National Team, we are falling further and further behind the rest of the world.  This is an emergency, and something needs to be done to reverse the trend.

Women’s World Cup Day 5: French Fry Canadian Bacon

Well, I predicted that starting now we would see some goal fests, but I was completely blindsided by which match it came in.  This round gave us some shocks: obviously the 4-0 French victory over Canada, but to my mind the biggest surprise was the fact that a home crowed booed the German team off the field at half-time.  It says volumes about the way Nigeria played, both in terms of its tenacity and organization but also its kamikaze play, which bordered on thuggishness.

It also says that a women’s football team will not be treated any differently than a men’s team.  If the crowd is unhappy with the way the team plays they will let it be known, gender be damned.  To my eyes, this is progress!

Despite a bad night, Germany still eked out the 1-0 win and, along with France, qualified for the quarterfinals.  Nigeria and Canada are out.  What a night.  Although the results were predictable (although I thought Canada would make the quarterfinals) everything you thought you knew has been turned on its head.

France v. Canada

Wow.  That’s all I can say.  France have officially played the best match of anyone so far.  Clearly bringing along most of the Lyon squad was a good idea, but the real glory has to go to Clairfontaine.  In previous years, group stage blowouts came about because one team was incredibly good and the other team was incredibly outmatched.  That is why you would see scores such as 7-1, 8-0, 11-0, and so on.

France v. Canada is incredible, possibly unique, because it was an early round match between two of the world’s best sides.  Both France and Canada are very talented, and both had a reasonable expectation of victory.  Until the match started that is.  From the beginning, France dominated and never let up.  It was a champion’s performance.

For Canada this game is fraught with “What Ifs?”  What if Christine Sinclair’s nose wasn’t broken?  What if they hadn’t played Germany first?  What if they had been in a different group?  What if there had been no problems between their coach Carolina Morace and the Canadian Soccer Association?

Unfortunately, Canada has to live with the reality of the situation.  The way France played tonight though, I am not sure that there could have been a different result, no matter what the what if.  The goalscorers for France were Gaetane Thiney (twice), Camille Abily, and Elodie Thomis, but really it didn’t matter who scored.  This was a team effort, as was each goal.  France may lack a Marta, a supreme individual talent who can change the match, but they have an entire team that plays at the highest level.  In contrast, Canada have Sinclair, but few of her teammates are at her level.

As of the end of two matches, France is firmly atop the Group A leader board.  The next match against Germany will determine who wins the group.  France’s tactics will be both interesting and telling.  A draw will be group enough, but will France want to win?  Germany looks mortal right now, and a defeat could be a near-fatal psychological blow.  Furthermore, France’s best (Lyon) beat Germany’s best (Turbine Potsdam) in the Champions League, and France may want to prove that was no fluke.

Back in Canada, it will be interesting to see what happens to Morace.  She won her struggle with the CSA, but the enemies she made now have a reason to get rid of her.  Will her team stand up for again?  Would they boycott the Olympics?  The program is moving forward, but the result was poor, and inevitably the coach shoulders the blame.

Nigeria v. Germany

The history of the World Cup is littered with ugly matches. Usually they are called the Battle of Somewhere or Other (Berne, Santiago, etc.)  Most recently a horrible refereeing job from Howard Webb mixed with thuggish tactics from an outmatched and far less talented Dutch team ruined last year’s World Cup final.

Nigeria have, to put it kindly, a history of physical play.  In 1999, the Nigerians tried to rough up the USWNT in group play, although they lost 7-1.  This was because in 1999 Nigeria was hopelessly outmatched.  Nigeria have shown in this World Cup that they are catching up to the rest of the world.  Giving up two goals in just two matches to two of the world’s best sides is completely respectable.  Their brutal play however is not.  I have said before that I think fouling and on-pitch violence are far more serious forms of cheating than diving, the bane of the American and English football fan (and which has gone happened in this tournament, despite some commentary to the contrary.)  Diving is a way to trick the referee.  On-pitch violence is the last resort of a team with no self-belief.

I think that sums Nigeria perfectly, and that is a shame because unlike at previous tournaments they are actually very good.  Violence alone that held Germany to a mere 1-0 victory.  It was instead, tough-minded organization, strong defense, and bit of bad luck during a set piece.  Nigeria’s violent behavior did not lead to any goals though, and once Germany scored, they could only keep the score down.  Nigeria’s biggest problem is not that they are outmatched, it is that they have no offensive weapons.

Like Morace, it will be interesting to see what happens to Nigeria’s coach.  Ian Darke indicated he thinks she will be gone, both because of the early exit and because of the controversy surrounding her homophobia (which he danced around until the very end of the match.)  I suspect Darke has no idea about how bad things are for gays and lesbians in Nigeria.  Most likely Nigeria’s coach is a heroine back home for expelling players she suspected of being lesbians.  (FIFA came out against her statements, but pretty much everything FIFA says about tolerance is lip service.  Where was FIFA when Marcello Lippi, among other, made homophobic remarks?  How can FIFA allow Qatar to hold the World Cup if they really cared?)  As much as I hate to say it, the truth is, from a success standpoint, Nigeria should retain her.  Despite the losses Nigeria is on the right path.  Only in terms of football development.

The refereeing in this match was bad.  More cards should have been given, and Germany’s coach Silvia Neid looked ready to shoot daggers.  But this match also revealed something important: Germany is incredibly mortal.  A better team need to resort to Nigeria’s guerilla warfare to exploit Germany’s weaknesses.  One shaky mach is an aberration; two is a pattern.  Germany have trouble finishing, and Neid is stuck in the past (specifically 2003-07.)  Nowhere is this clearly than the starting presence of Birgit Prinz who was pulled out early twice.  When Germany meets a better team (France?  Brazil?  USA?) they may have some real problems.

Collectively, the team appears nervous, and perhaps playing in front of the home crowd is more hindrance than help.  That the home crowd jeered the team into the locker room at halftime puts even more pressure on the Germans.  Their countrymen have bought into the hype, and if the Germans don’t win, all hell will break loose. They are not just playing for themselves and their country; they are playing for the respectability of women’s football in Germany.

Next up is historical frenemy France.  In order to win the group, Germany must win.  This is a new situation for Germany, and the way the players deal with the pressure will determine whether they remain world champions or finally relinquish their title.

The Lion In Winter

I have been a tennis fan for as long as I can remember.  Although my ability to play is nothing more than awful, I can watch and understand the ebb and flow of a march far better than I can do or ever will be able to do in football (which I arrived at relatively late.)  I have seen so many great players in my life, among them Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Navratilova, Graf, Evert, Seles, Nadal, the Williams sisters, Agassi, Sampras, and above all Roger Federer.  I have enjoyed watching the game, but because of Federer I find I can no longer watch tennis anymore.  While his own special style turned tennis into an art form, he has also spoiled it.  The reason is that Federer has met an unconquerable opponent: time.  As he falls into the throes of the inevitable and natural decline that all athletes face, I cannot bear witness.  The lion is indeed in his winter.

Before Federer turned professional, he was a top-ranked junior player, and he won the boy’s Wimbledon title in 1998.  His already advanced game was still a work in progress, and that hindered in his early professional years–as did his impatience.  Scouting reports on Federer suggested that if a player hung in with him and absorbed his shots, Federer would become frustrated, lose his composure, and blow the match.  That was why the young Federer consistently fell to his early rival David Nalbandian of Argentina.  Yet despite his frailties he could still show flashes of greatness, none greater than when he beat Pete Sampras in their epic five set duel at Wimbledon, a match that ended the great champion’s dominance at the All England club.  That match, the only time those two ever met, was traumatic for both.  For Sampras it was the end of his invincibility.  Although he would go one to win one last major title (the 2002 US Open), he was now an afterthought.  For Federer it was too much too soon, and he faltered under the weight of expectations.  Over the ensuing months, Federer seemed doomed to be another Xavier Malisse, an incredibly gifted player who never fulfilled his early promise.

In August 2002, Federer’s world was shattered when his friend and former coach Peter Carter, the man who coached him throughout his teens, was killed in a car crash.  Oddly though, in as much as it hurt him on a personal level, from a tennis perspective it somehow helped to make him whole.  The results did not show immediately, and the final humiliation was yet to come.  At the 2003 French Open, a journeyman player from Peru named Luis Horna upset the fifth-seeded Federer in the first round (in straight sets no less.)

To say that this loss created Federer would be entirely wrong.  It is however, fair to say that the loss somehow released him from his self-imposed shackles.  Two weeks later at Wimbledon, tennis gave its greatest gift to the world.  Federer, now a fully formed colossus, strode out onto the manicured court and dominated all in his path.  He was not the first player to overpower the competition, but this destruction was different from all that had come before.

Part of this is circumstantial.  The truth is that by 2003, women’s tennis had become far more interesting than men’s tennis.  With the decline of Sampras and (to a lesser extent) Andre Agassi, men’s tennis had become a bubbling, shapeless mess.  Rather than the comfort of a hierarchy with a few top players to create compelling rivalries and intricate stories, men’s tennis became a free-for-all.  Whenever a player won a major tournament, you could never be sure if he was for real or just a flash-in-the-pan.  From the US Open in 2000 (the first major after Sampras’s last Wimbledon) to the French Open in 2003 (the last major before Federer’s first Wimbledon) there were nine different winners in eleven tournaments.

Furthermore, the dominant style in men’s tennis was very dull.  There are competing theories, some circulating around the move to graphite racquets (Navratilova and McEnroe were especially vocal about this.)  The serve had come to dominate to such an extent that points were over as soon as they began.  To be fair, every style has its flaws; the serve-and-volley was not much longer than just the serve-only game, and a meeting between two baseline players could be interesting as a metronome.  The service-only game was different though because–fair perception or not–seemingly talentless hacks rose to the top of the world.  It also polarized the men’s field: either a player had a strong serve and performed well on fast courts or he was a retriever and succeeded on slow courts.  There was no overlap.

Federer changed all that.  Federer has a strong serve (and perhaps even more importantly, a strong second serve), but he was no Goran Ivanišević.  He could play defensively, but he was no clay court specialist like Gustavo Kuerten.  He won tournaments on all surfaces, and went deep into every major.  Yet that is not why Federer was so great.

On the court, he was like a god.

I do not say this lightly.  Nor am I the only person who has compared Federer to the divine.  The late author and essayist David Foster Wallace wrote a famous essay for The New York Times called “Federer as Religious Experience” in which he explained, not the player himself, but rather the fan’s experience of watching Federer.  Wallace began his essay as follows:

Almost anyone who loves tennis and follows the men’s tour on television has, over the last few years, had what might be termed Federer Moments. These are times, as you watch the young Swiss play, when the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in from other rooms to see if you’re O.K.

Wallace, who played competitive tennis as a youth, wrote perhaps the definitive essay on Federer.  He captured in writing a feeling that so many, even those who (like myself) do not play, feel about Federer’s game.  Federer’s tennis was the manifestation of a Platonic idea.

Even that alone cannot fully describe why Federer is so unique in tennis history.  Although rare, there have been other artists who have had all (or at least most) of the shots in Federer’s arsenal and delivered those shots almost as pristine a manner.  The difference between Federer and other artists is simple to explain, but unfortunately entirely prosaic.  Federer has perhaps the most tactically astute brain in tennis history.  Former artists got paralyzed in tight matches because they were not sure which shot to play.  Federer always knows.

Federer has his detractors, and the “Greatest Of All Time” debates rages on tennis blogs and discussion boards across the Internet.  Most of the debate centers around Rafael Nadal, Federer’s only real rival at his height, and the man who may very well supplant his legacy.  I am not going to get into that debate here, although one can easily figure out where my sympathies lie.

Instead, I want to talk about the feeling of utter sadness that I and other Federer fans feel as we witness what we always knew was inevitable.  The truth is for the past year-and-a-half or so, I have been unable to regularly watch tennis because it is just too painful.  Watching Federer is less joy than a mixture of nostalgia, regret, and depression.  I want to enjoy his last years in the game (the man is not yet 30), but it is just too hard.  I tried to watch the final of this year’s French Open, and I could not even though I should be used to Nadal beating Federer at the French Open.

It happens to all the greats without exception; no one goes out on top.  The truth is that I am utterly removed from Federer on a personal level.  I know little about him off the court, and I want to keep it that way.  The only times he exists for me are those hours I see him play on my television.  Yet in those hours he was everything; he created an intimacy and beauty in sport that may never be seen again.  It is impossible not to be moved by his decline, inevitable or no; gods are not supposed to fall, they are eternal.  But perhaps we all to become atheists if we ever want to watch tennis again.

Women’s World Cup Day 4: Magic Marta Meets Mighty Matildas. Much Mayham.

Before anyone comments angrily (although please comment!), yes I am aware that my title is deceptive.  Marta was not the X Factor that she has been in the past.  But I will address Marta’s contributions later.

Norway v. Equatorial Guinea

It’s impossible to overstate how much Equatorial Guinea exceeded expectations.  Of course, expectations of Equatorial Guinea were so low, that I think Beth Mowins and Cat Whitehill expected the Equatoguineas to run out of the stadium crying after Norway’s first pass.  The Norwegians seemed surprised that their opponents stuck around as well.

Equatorial Guinea probably became everyone’s second team after this match.  Like Mexico and unlike Colombia, they never for an instant let up.  There were all trying to score.  A 1-0 Norway victory was cruel; Equatorial Guinea deserved something.  All the more so when you consider (a) all the controversy surrounding them; (b) that some of their best players are not playing: (c) this is the team’s first World Cup; and (d) many of the players are inexperienced in international play.

The rock of Equatorial Guinea is the extremely skilled Turbine Potsdam player Genoveva Añonma.  Equatorial Guinea’s entire strategy can be summed as “Get the ball to Añonma,” which was actually a pretty good strategy.  She’s an incredible talent, possibly the find of the tournament thus far.  (Equatorial Guinea have some good players.  A few of them are actually Brazilians, which is a time-honored football tradition: when you don’t have talent, appropriate someone else’s.)  The weakness of this strategy though is that Añonma had trouble finishing.  Finishing has been one of two consistent team weakness in this tournament.*

just as a side note, Equatorial Guinea seems to have the most interesting fans.  There was one man who kept dancing in agony around his row of seats while wearing an Equatoguinean flag as a cape.  There also appeared to be some nuns cheering the team, which I found extremely funny.

Norway have been a fading power for quite some time.  This month at the u19 European Championship, Germany crushed Norway in the final by a humiliating 8-1.  Even today, Norway did not deserve the win.  Norway lack killer instinct, and this is a problem.  The fact that every match has been so close this tournament means the women’s game has gotten to a point where (unlike in previous World Cups) the talent gap between nations has significantly closed, and not having a killer instinct is fatal.

The truth is that Norway’s demise has been coming.  Just as in the men’s game once-mighty nations such as Scotland, Hungary, and Austria have all fallen forever from the elite, so too is Norway on that route in the women’s game.  Quite simply, Norway does not have the population to compete.  Who are the top 4 in the world?  The USA, Germany, Brazil, and Japan.  The up-and-comers?  Colombia, Australia, and North Korea.  All of these nations have a significant population pool in the tens of millions if not hundreds of millions (and China, when it finally pulls itself together, has over a billion).  As the gap between programs closes, the presence of the less populous nations (Equatorial Guinea, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand) will become rarer.  A good result is not impossible (look at tiny Uruguay in last year’s World Cup), but sustained success almost certainly is.

This is a good thing, and this tournament is the proof.  No match thus far was won by more than one goal save for the US win over North Korea (maybe it was the lightning), and for the first half of that match North Korea were the better side.  Quality is not nearly as disparate as it was even four years ago.**  This Women’s World Cup is incredibly entertaining, and the low scores contribute to the excitement.  Compare to the men’s World Cups, in which every tournament since 1986 has been called the worst ever.

Brazil v. Australia

Like the US against North Korea, Brazil were completely on the ropes for the first half.  Then after the break, Brazil remembered they were Brazil and started to dominate.  The goal was a beautiful piece of skill from Rosana (notice how Tony DiCicco and Adrian Healy pronounced her name correctly) which came from some equally beautiful preliminary by Cristiane.  It was a reminder to the other teams in the tournament.  Even when Brazil are on the ropes, the players are so good they can change everything in a matter of seconds.

But right there is also the problem with Brazil.  There is no reason for the team to have played such a poor first half.  Australia were terrific, yes, and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but Brazil nearly lost it just as much as Australia nearly won it.  Something more pernicious is at work.

Brazil have Marta, but Marta is one player in a team sport.  It is a shame that some people (like Grant Wahl) judge players by whether they have won major international team tournament.  It is a false measurement of greatness because no player wins alone.  History has romanticized Maradona in 1986 and to a lesser extent Garrincha in 1962.  Sure, both players anchored Argentina and Brazil respectively.  Both were the star players without whom victory would be impossible.  Yet, the credit they are given unfairly maligns their teammates’, relegating top players to the status of mediocrities.  Pele’s World Cup victories are his also his team’s.  If Messi does not win the World Cup, that is of a reflection on his Argentina not on him.  If Marta does not win a World Cup, one must understand why Brazil failed, not Marta.

The problem with Brazil is that unless there is a major tournament the team does not exist.  This would be unheard of for the men.  The CBF gives them almost no support whatsoever.  They were the last team to arrive in Germany.  Except for those players who play for Santos, they never play together as a team.  They had no meaningful friendlies before the tournament started.  Their manager is borderline tactically inept. A sweeper?  Really?  Their warmup matches are the group stage which is a very dangerous game.  The CBF has effectively told the Canarinhas that they have to coast on talent because they won’t get anything from the Federation.***

That Brazil, the nation most identified with footballing genius, is so woefully lacking in women’s football is on the surface baffling.  The problem lies at the very heart of Brazilian society.  Only recently have Brazilians started to see women’s football as legitimate, and that took was Marta winning the World Player of the Year time five times in a row (and counting.)

Brazil’s failure to achieve its full potential is a tragedy for women’s football.  This team could be the best in history, but cannot because its own country stands in the way.  No other goal in this tournament, skillful as they may have been, came close to the beauty that was created by Cristiane and Rosana.  I applauded when Rosana scored.  When Brazil are in its groove, they play a completely different game than everyone else (witness the semifinal against the US in 2007.)  But that groove requires more than just being terrific players, something the nation of Brazil knows only too well from the failure of the 1982 World Cup team.

Again, this is not to take away from Australia, although I am afraid I have done so.  Football is a cruel game, and the best do not always win.  Australia is by no means the best team in this field, but the fact that they completely out-played Brazil for at least half a match shows how good they can be.  Unlike Brazil, they played as a team rather than as a collection of phenomenally gifted players.

In the first half, I could not see how Brazil could pull out a win.  They took so many shots of goal that goalkeeper Andréia was probably the Brazilian player of the match.  One of the Australians even nutmegged Marta.  And then there is Lisa De Vanna.  So much has been written about her.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe she was the super sub from Australia four years ago.  She’s an immense talent, but like so many other talented players at this tournament, she could not finish.  If the ball does not go in the net somehow, all the lovely touches mean nothing.

In football, individuals goal tally is the most overrated statistic out there.  It is the team’s goal tally that really matters.  Marta did not score, but she played an important role in creating chances.  Lisa De Vanna did not score either, but aside from putting a few scares into the Brazilians, her impact was negligible.

If Australia can correct its finishing problems, then the Matildas† should be able to advance.  If not, then the match against Norway and their finishing problems is going to be very interesting.  And of course there is still Equatorial Guinea.

Finally I want to plug a website that has been a great source of information and entertainment.  All White Kit has been wonderful with its World Cup coverage, and I highly recommend that people go and read it if you have any interest in women’s football.

Footnotes:

* The other major problem across the board is fitness; there is a lot of cramping going on in the final twenty minutes of matches due to the hat and humidity.  One thing you cannot fault the US for is its fitness.  They are completely prepared for the entire 90 minutes, weather be damned!

** The opposite side of the coin is to watch for blowouts starting tomorrow.  The first round is always the hardest and the minnows have put up a good fight.  Now the real question is whether they can keep that up or whether they will be found out.  Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, and New Zealand in particular are in real danger of humiliation if they let up for even a moment.  The other nations in their groups need to beat them and beat them by a lot.

*** As US fans, we have legitimate complains about the USSF.  I myself have written about them more than once.  It is important to remind ourselves though that as idiotic as the USSF can be, in their own weird way, they want to do what is best for American football, both men and women.  Compare that the negligence bordering on sabotage that the CBF has shown toward the Brazilian women or the abject corruption found in so many of the national federations.  It’s important to remember every once in a while that Sunil Gulati is not actually a villain, and he’s trying to build a good program, whether or not he is doing it the right way.

†  I know it’s not their national anthem, but I am always so disappointed when Waltzing Matilda is not played before an Australia match.  For the record, the national anthem is Advance Australia Fair.

Women’s World Cup Day 4 Preliminary Report: ESPN Finally Messes Up

I would normally wait until both matches are finished before I write anything, but this bothers me so much that I feel it deserves its own post.

I have been very impressed with ESPN thus far, but without a doubt my least favorite commentary team is Beth Mowins and Cat Whitehill.  First Whitehill repeatedly (as in five or six times that I am aware of) compared Japan to Barcelona even though they are nothing alike other than the fact that both teams field short players and pass a lot.  I have not been particularly impressed with either with the tactical analysis or the color commentary, but (the Barcelona comparison aside) nothing really bothered me to the point where I felt like I needed to complain.  Until today.  All throughout the extremely entertaining match between former powerhouse Norway and World Cup newcomer Equatorial Guinea, both Mowins and Whitehill repeated mispronounced the name of equatoguinean star Genoveva Añonma.  Every time they mentioned her name–and it was often because she was undoubtedly the player of the match–they said “a-NAHN-ma.”

(Note:  To be fair, it’s not just Mowins and Whitehill, it’s everyone at ESPN, but Mowins and Whitehill called the match, which means they said it most often.)

Equatorial Guinea was a former colony of Spain way back when the Europeans openly believed that they had the right to carve up the rest of the world.  Like with the Ivory Coast and France or Cape Verde and Portugal, there is a strong Spanish connection and influence in Equatorial Guinea.  Spanish is one of the official languages of Equatorial Guinea.  In Spanish, an “ñ” is actual pronounced “ny” as in mañana.  Therefore, Genoveva Añonma’s last name is not “a-NAHN-ma,” but rather “an-YONE-ma,” (note the long “o”) at least according to the name on the back of her jersey.

Look, we all mispronounce names, especially when those names are from a different culture than our own.  Even commentators make mistakes, and the occasional one can be forgiven.  But I don’t care if Equatorial Guinea came out of nowhere.  It’s called research, and if you call a match, it is your job to get names as correct as possible.  If you cannot pronounce the name of a star player correctly, you are not doing your job.

I’m not asking much.  Spanish is a very easy language to pronounce.  It’s even easier than English, which is also is relatively easy in the grand scheme of things.  We’re not talking about really difficult languages for non-native speaker that they have over a hundred different phonemes that exist nowhere else.  I’m not even asking for proper pronunciation of deceptively tricky languages (for English speakers) like Brazilian Portuguese which uses the same letters as English but with the occasionally different pronunciation–the transliteration of “Ronaldinho” is approximately “Honalgeenyo.”  (For fun, here is Tim Vickery’s demonstration of a Brazilians transliteration of English player Jonathan Woodgate.)

Now, of course I could be wrong.  Obviously language pronunciations differ from country to country and even in Spain there are regional variations, but I suspect that ESPN got lazy, and did not think any viewers would actually look at the player’s jersey, and think “Wait a second, that’s not right.”

This ends my rant.  Match reports to follow shortly.

Happy Anniversary

On this day in 1969, the Stonewall Riots broke out in New York’s West Village.  This is seen as the symbolic birth of the Gay Rights Movement, and it’s the reason that Gay Pride all over the country is in June.  In honor of this anniversary and all that has been accomplished since, I recommend that you read June Thomas’s excellent series on Slate.

The truth though is that the riots could have passed into history completely forgotten.  The real birth of the movement came on the first anniversary of Stonewall when LGBT activists marched in the first Christopher Street Liberation Day parade.  That has been going on year after year, morphed into the gay pride parades we all know and are ambivalent about.