Years ago after interviewing Michelle Akers – a star of the 1991 and 1999 World Cup championship U.S. teams – I described her as “a mane among ponytails” and I remember thinking what a uniquely feminine image that was on the sports page. At that time, we were transitioning from people frowning upon the average woman having a Martina Navratilova physique to suddenly Linda Hamilton’s cut arms in Terminator 2: Judgment Day being something to strive for.

Last weekend’s World Cup final was quite a gauge on where we are. One former sports writer — me! — checks in with gratitude for the women who came after her.

Today’s Game Plan: Standing on the Shoulders of a Younger Generation