One day a little girl decided she would give soccer a try. She lived in California, where that was a reasonable thing to do. Her daddy, like so many other daddies before and since, was her coach. She was a good little soccer player, but she didn’t let the sport rule her life.

Good for her.

She played other sports and did other things that little California girls do. When she was 14 years old — which is a pretty reasonable time to put her childhood behind and get serious about your passion — she started playing club soccer.

Never mind that the rest of the world calls the game she was playing football. She was and is as American as, well, Coca-Cola and apple pie, so she called the game she played so well soccer.

She also played high school soccer and led her team, Diamond Bar (sounds like a girls’ band or a great find in a treasure hunt) to three league championships. She was so good that she was named All-America and called up to the Under-20 U.S. National team. Her future as a soccer star was pretty much set.

She did take time out from her work with the National Team to attend college at the University of California at Berkeley and played four years for the Golden Bears, leading them to the NCAA Tournament each year. Our girl had gotten good at soccer, understand.

The next step in the natural progression, thanks to the Pioneers of Title 9 many years ago, was professional soccer. Yes, that’s a thing, even though we in the football-crazed South might not be aware. I mean we just recently discovered that professional men’s soccer provided a fix for those fans of the game during the four-year interval between World Cups.

But back to our heroine. She was so good as a professional that her American team “loaned” her to a French team. They apparently do that in International soccer. She made a reported $33,000 a month to play for Lyons. That’s pretty high cotton where I come from. I would have had to work about 10 years in the Osprey Mill to make that much money. She got it in a month — for kicking a ball.

You can probably guess the rest of the story. The little girl from California who went out one day to play soccer has made it all the way to the top of the food chain. She starred in the 2011 World Cup and made the winning goal in the first game she played — against France. She played for the U.S. in the London Olympic games in 2012. She scored the winning goal in the semifinal match against Canada and got an assist on the winning goal against Japan in the gold medal round.

She is kind of a big deal, understand.

Ho hum. More years passed. More World Cup success and more Olympic success, despite having to battle a series of knee injuries.

And now the 2019 World Cup has come around and our girl is as good as ever. She scored five — count them: five — goals in a game against Thailand last month, with three assists. It was arguably the most productive contest in the long storied history of the women’s World Cup. And then, on her 30th birthday, July 2, 2019 — she scored a goal in the World Cup semifinals — a 2-1 victory over England.

Do you know what she did to celebrate scoring a gold against England on her 30th birthday? Of course you do, because Alex Morgan, the magnificent player whose name few people outside intimate soccer circles knew before Tuesday, in her glee, pretended to take a sip of tea from an imaginary tea cup.

Suddenly would-be sportsmen — and sportswomen — all around the globe, were up in arms and couldn’t wait to bash Alex Morgan for her horrendous show of poor sportsmanship. Some people actually called for her to be removed from the U.S. roster of the virtual eve of Sunday’s championship game against The Netherlands.

Give me a (blanket-blank) break, y’all. It’s a game. So she trolled the Mother Country by pretending to take a spot of tea. For goodness sakes. She held her pinky out in a proper manner. If England can’t take that, they’d better not apply for a spot in the Southeastern Conference. It’s not like she Gator chomped them or gathered her whole team at midfield to do a “Rammer Bammer Yellow Jammer” chant.

The purple-haired idiot can spit on the flag, for all practical purposes, and Alex can’t take a sip of imaginary tea?

Again, lighten up people. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. That’s why the little girl in San Demos started playing, two-and-a-half decades ago.

Go Alex. Go USA. Beat The Netherlands. And when you score a goal, pretend to pick all the tulips your heart desires.

Darrell Huckaby is an author in Rockdale County. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com.

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