Second of two parts
Recognized as one of the greatest goalkeepers in women’s soccer history, Briana Scurry also is an extraordinary advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. “I am as intersectional [as one gets],” said Scurry last month in an MSR phone interview.
“I am a mother. I am in a gay relationship. I’m Black. And I am a female—the minority of the minority of a minority.”
The current divisive climate that exists in this country greatly troubles Scurry, now age 50 and a first-time book author. Her new memoir, “My Greatest Save,” was released in June.
“What bothers me is the lack of empathy,” she continued. “I struggle with understanding how anyone who has ever been discriminated against can discriminate. I don’t get it.”
The transgender issue is both polarizing and politized. Nearly 20 states now have laws or policies that either ban or limit participation in sports by transgender athletes. Other states are allowing transgender females to compete in girls’ sports, however.
“It bothers me that there are literally laws being made to discriminate against transgender athletes,” said Scurry. “I don’t understand that. Why?”
Scurry is in the permanent Title IX exhibit in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. Last month she was one of seven Black females in the Star Tribune’s “The 50” to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. These are just two of many milestones she has achieved in her life.
She also has been an instrumental voice in promoting equal pay. Scurry took part in the White House Equal Pay Summit in May. She also couldn’t hide her excitement when the breakthrough equal pay decision in women’s soccer was finalized in the spring.
“I was absolutely on Cloud Nine,” said Scurry, “when I read about that. I was astonished. We’re talking about a 30-year odyssey battle between the [U.S.] women’s national team that wins a tournament in every cycle. We have won in the Olympics [and] expanded the game in this country.”
Despite her successes and being one of the highest profile Black women to play soccer, Scurry remains determined to see more girls and women who look like her play the sport. She cites three “elements” that are in play.
“The first one is economics,” explained Scurry. “If your child is brilliant, very athletic, it’s gonna cost us thousands of dollars. If my mom and dad were here now and I was a little girl back in the 70s, there’s no way my mom and dad would have contributed thousands of dollars for me to play soccer when they needed to pay the mortgage, car note and electricity, which is a ton of money. It’s ridiculous how expensive the sport is.
“Second is geographic location,” noted Scurry. “It is a predominantly suburban sport.
“The third is the gatekeepers. I think it’s the gatekeepers that are the problem. That can be fixed right now.”
The gatekeepers Scurry refers to include youth soccer coaches, administrators, and others encountered as players move up the ranks. Having more Blacks in decision-making roles would help as well, she believes.
“It takes time,” said Scurry. “The people who are making those decisions need to look at the young African American player who may not have a lot of funding with family or may live in an urban area, and expose them [to soccer]. Then maybe you can get some more traction.
“But that’s going to take some time to see that.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.