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US Women's National Team: champions once again

the United States kisses the trophy during the victory ceremony for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup after the United States claimed the title after defeating Japan 5-2 in Vancouver, Canada on July 5, 2015 (Credit: Imago/Icon Sportswire/Xinhua) The U.S. Women's national soccer team faced off against their Japanese counterparts in Sunday's championship match for the 2015 World Cup. By now, you've probably heard about the outcome of the game and the United States' dominating victory. You've also probably heard about the four goals in the first sixteen minutes, three of them coming from Carli Lloyd (Lloyd is only the second player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final and the fastest to do so). You've probably heard about those things because the team's victory has been the lead story on most news outlets since it happened.

The country has rallied behind the women's national team for much of this year's World Cup, with interest only rising as the team moved on each round. The television ratings for Sunday evening's match offer further support with an estimated 21-23.5 million viewers tuning in to watch. For comparison sake, that number is on par with game seven of last year's World Series and the concluding game of last month's NBA Finals. The country seemed to embrace this team in a way that hasn't really been seen since 1999 when the USWNT won its second World Cup.

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Bassett's game-losing kick and the nature of redemption

Laura Bassett (C), a defender on England's women's World Cup team, is comforted by England's head coach Mark Sampson (R) and teammate, Josanne Potter (L), afer Basset's own goal in the 90th minute lost the game for England during their semifinal match against Japan in 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, Edmonton, Canada, July 1, 2015 (Credit: Icon Sportswire/Xinhua/Imago Wednesday night's Women's World Cup semi-final match between England and Japan was defined as much by questionable officiating as by the play on the pitch. At least, that was the case going into stoppage time. However, the game's story changed when Japan's Nahomi Kawusumi lofted a ball into England's box that defender Laura Bassett inadvertently kicked just over the head of her goalie and off the bottom of the cross-bar for the game-deciding goal. It was a tragic end to an otherwise entertaining game.

ESPN analyst Kate Markgraf called the shot Bassett was attempting to clear "The most difficult ball to defend." Others have echoed similar sentiments and many have reached out to offer her support via social media. After the game her coach, Mark Samson, said of Bassett and the English team: "We'll go home knowing that we could not have done any more…we gave our all. I'm very, very proud of the group…the way Laura Bassett has played today and in this tournament, she's epitomized all the values English football fans want to see… I know when they get back, they'll be welcomed back as heroes."

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NBA free agency and the importance of priorities

DeAndre Jordan watches while a teammate answers a question from a reporter during the Los Angeles Clippers Media Day, September 29, 2014 (Credit: Panoramic/Icon Sportswire) The 2015 NBA free agency period officially starts at 12:01 EST Wednesday morning. Usually, the period is comprised of a lot of talk and very little action. Players can sign longer contracts for more money with their current teams so it's rare to see a high profile free agent actually sign elsewhere. However, that might change this year. While LeBron James and Marc Gasol appear to be locks to stay with the Cavs and Grizzlies respectively, other legitimately great players like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan are thought to be better than even bets to don a different jersey next year.

One reason why many expect them to sign elsewhere is the rise in league revenues that will be generated by the new TV deal that kicks in next season. Because the cap is based on total revenues, the NBA projects that it will rise more than $20 million dollars in 2016 and continue to grow from there. Consequently, players have a financial incentive not to sign the long term deals that so often lead to them staying with their old teams in order to become free agents again when they can make far more. While such a choice presents some risk, as a severe or career-threatening injury could derail those hopes of a larger future contract, it will still be an enticing option for many players.

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