As regular readers know, I care very, very little about soccer, whether played by men or women. But believe it or not, that’s not what’s motivating me to write this post or ask this question.
“Choker” is an ugly word, and it’s almost always used unfairly. When two players or teams square off in the finals in ANY sport, it’s a safe bet that both players/teams are extremely good. No one should be surprised that any player/team good enough to make the finals is good enough to come from far behind and win.
But here’s what I’m getting at: fairly or unfairly, a male soccer team that blew a lead in the championship game WOULD be reviled as a bunch of chokers who folded in the clutch. Is there any doubt of that?
And yet, I haven’t read or heard any sports commentator use that kind of language about the Amrican women who coughed up the lead against Japan. Frankly, I almost never see female athletes ridiculed or raked over the coals for poor performance the way male stars are.
Why not? Does it just seem unchivalrous to talk about even highly competitive women that way? Why do people laugh at, say, the Buffalo Bills for coming up short in 4 straight Super Bowls, while saying, “Aw, that’s a tough break” when the women’s soccer team falls short in The Big One?
I would have liked to see a U.S. victory, but Japan needed it more than we did considering recent history over there. Good for them, and congrats to our gals for a fine run in the tournament. Get 'em next time.
The only people who use the word “choke” in respect of any sporting event, are people who have never competed at any level in a sporting event. Hope this helps. Oh, and commentators looking for column inches or broadcast minutes I suppose.
I’m calling force field on Japan’s goals. Seriously. How many times did the ball get tantalizingly close, but then bounced out? Wasn’t there one time it hit the top bar and go totally the opposite way you expect*?
*Okay, so I didn’t actually try to calculate the physics, it just looked like the world’s unlikeliest deflection from where I was sitting.
I think that is somewhat down to the lack of prominence of women’s sports in general. If you ever frequent message boards dedicated to women’s sports ( and I’ve briefly hung around a few for NCAA women’s basketball and the WNBA ) you’ll see a fair number of accusations of “choking” by the dedicated cognoscenti, addressed at both teams and at specific players.
Japan beat Germany, the host nation and pre-tournament favorites, in the quarterfinals. They also beat Mexico 4-0, a team that had beaten the USA a few months earlier. They were the most on-form team in the tournament.
The USA missed a lot of chances, but to say they choked is to unfairly diminish the quality of Japan’s side.
Yeah. They were leading with 8 minutes left and couldn’t finish. They were leading with 3 minutes left and couldn’t finish. They went into PKs and missed three straight. If that’s not choking I don’t know what is.