America loves Mia Hamm
After the U.S. womens' win in the World Cup finals, soccer, and the girls that play it, is cool again
They’ve sold out stadiums all over the U.S., inspired a Barbie doll, and won David Letterman’s affection. The Spice Girls? That’s so ’98. This summer’s distaff pop-culture sensation is the U.S. women’s national soccer team, led by mediagenic striker Mia Hamm.
The once-ignored 14-year-old team (which at press time was facing the Chinese in the World Cup finals) has become as ubiquitous as Latino pop stars. Check out Gatorade’s ad featuring Hamm body-slamming Michael Jordan, or Nike’s spot with a squad of booters showing solidarity in a dentist’s office. (Nike is so giddy over women’s soccer, it named a building at its Oregon headquarters after Hamm.) Or flip to CBS’ Late Show, where Letterman calls the team ”babe city.” Hamm’s self-help book, Go for the Goal, is a hot seller. And fans can even buy their own mini-team: four kicking, throwing soccer Barbies.
”They’re a group that everyone, including guys, would want to drink beer with,” says World Cup exec Steve Vanderpool. So expect Hollywood to make a pass at them. ”I’m sure someone out there wants to do a TV movie about them,” says William Morris agent Rick Bradley, who adds that Hamm could go into broadcasting or acting: ”She’s bigger than the sport.”