Bernstein: Soccer Fans Pretending U.S. Didn’t Choke

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) Want proof that this latest, forgettable turn for soccer was typically phony?

Just look carefully at how the narrative has changed since the U.S. women’s team – yet another anointed torchbearer for a sport, over-hyped by hopeful soccer proselytizers — blew the chance of a lifetime in a loss to a vastly inferior Japanese team in the World Cup final.

Now, predictably, it’s all about how deserving the opponent was.

Incomprehensible failure is dismissed amid praise for Japan, a nation now “healed” by the victory, if you listen to the obsequious coverage by pandering media. Amazing, considering it’s a competition that not many people really care about.

Devastating earthquake? Entirely undone. The ensuing tsunami, reactor damage and radiation leaks? Never happened.

(Can’t wait for the upcoming Olympics, then, where a pole-vaulting gold will retroactively vanquish Godzilla, a bronze in rowing will temporarily incapacitate Mothra, and a stunning victory in rhythmic gymnastics will cause the Cubs to never have offered $48 million to Kosuke Fukudome.)

And that’s only half of the calculated distraction, with the rest of the spin trying to advertise the “success” of the sport, no matter if the Americans lost. It’s all OK, you see, and everyone should be proud.

It’s there that we find the big lie of this trumped-up trifle.

If people actually did care, and this were something other than a cute little novelty during a historically-empty period for sports, this team would be getting pounded for coming up short, especially in such miserable, inexcusable fashion.

Soccer fans in this country are so blinded by their quixotic efforts to spread the religion of their game, they simply don’t have the guts to call out chokers for choking.

If all this mattered so much, act like it.

Nobody’s asking for the overheated insanity we’ve seen in other countries when national teams have disappointed — or for lighting Vancouver on fire, for that matter.

But why is there this protective reluctance to speak the plain truth about just how bad this was?

So much for gender equity, I guess. Men embarrass themselves on the field of play and never live it down, becoming ignominious footnotes, dogged by famous collapses the rest of their days. For our sweethearts, though, it’s apparently no big deal.

The pesky loss just got in the way of the story for overreaching supporters bent on finding every opportunity to exploit and distort another temporary moment of moderate relevance, and now they don’t know what to do.

If they act like real sports fans and react to disappointment by behaving like real sports fans – actually criticizing their team’s players for losing a game they never should have lost – they risk ruining the happy-happy vibe they seem to think is vital to the sales pitch, and that’s how you know it’s not real.

Every few years one of these things comes around, and the same treacle is trotted out about “thousands of soccer-crazed little girls” asking parents to sign them up for leagues, or buy them a black sports-bra so they, too, can eventually go on to play in a professional league that quickly goes bankrupt because nobody wanted it.

People just need to be honest when the results fail to match the dream story of the marketing message.

Here’s what those kids can learn from watching the U.S. women’s soccer team yesterday: Just because you’re a girl, it doesn’t mean you can’t grow up to be Bill Buckner.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein:  Soccer Fans Pretending U.S. Didnt Choke
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • mike in davenport

    You could make a pretty good “Wanna get away?” ad from that game.

    • Chris in Scottsdale


  • jc in beverly

    Has anyone mentioned the idiotic substitution the US coach made when she took out Rapinoe (sp?) who assisted on the first goal and was all over the field and put in a player who gave the ball away several times and botched a penalty kick? Why is the coach getting away with no criticism?

    • Craig

      Agree 100 percent – Meghan had gotten them there just as much as anyone – to take out such a skilled assist maker was certainly questionable. It had to be simply to get some fresh legs on the field but I’d found someone else to take out.

    • Craig

      Agree 100 percent – Meghan had gotten them there just as much as anyone – to take out such a skilled assist maker was certainly questionable. It had to be simply to get some fresh legs on the field but I’d found someone else to take out.

      By the way, this is a really pitiful article from a loser who likely never even laced it up for T-Ball – CBS – hire me – I can write more thoughtful and thought provoking articles than this clown.


    Global warming sucks. Just. plain. sucks. And hiding indoors in the air condition, is the safest alternative.

    But, do chores, grab some books, take up model building again, or catch up on DVD box sets, because there is no reason to follow sports until, dare I say, ‘hawks 2011-12 campaign?
    The Sox have to go 40-30 or better, and the trend shows too many of those losses could come within the division.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    This game registered the most tweets in Twitter’s 5-year history.

    I didn’t watch, or tweet.

  • Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

    Danny’s article is screaming for a WYC. First he puts on twitter that, paraphrasing, everyone can now go back to life as normal and stop pretending to care about women’s soccer. Now, he’s choosing to use one of his two weekly columns to write about it? Textbook WYC. I don’t even disagree with his larger point in this piece that the nat’l team should be getting killed over this loss(although them making the finals was overachieving given their recent pre-WWC play). But pick a lane Danny!

  • Lil' Bycracke


    1. Talk more hockey.
    2. Locate and Retrieve Sirgay.
    3. Stop talking hockey.

    I thought the heat make everyone nuts, but I guess it is just Chicago Baseball.

  • calleroftheshow

    Typical ESPN/USs sports story on how the US is the team of destiny or how Japan is healed with the win. US choked on a momentous scale and it was a sobering result for the USA!USA! chanting moron. Even if they would have won, the 24 hours of fame would have been all they got and this would have passed like wind that comes from Danny Mac on a daily basis. Just like the “Die hard Blackhawk fans” who came out for the Wrigleyville trashing during the Stanley Cup, this too was another grab at instant gratification. I love Soccer, but it is not for America. America wants everything 5 minutes ago. This was neither a possitve or a negative because it didn’t really matter either way. The only result was a huge collapse from a physically and technically dominant team on the biggest stage. Seems to be a result more and more common these days.

    • big time sucker


  • Larry Horse's water trough


    Start talking hockey!!!

  • Bronzo

    This is such a cheap shot…yes it was overhyped and yes they blew the game. Way to kick sombody when they are down . I don’t watch soccer, although I think it was a mildly interesting story for a while.This the same story Rick Morrissey wrote Friday….Before the game.

  • PTC

    while Bernstein is his normal supercilious, pontificating self, he nailed this one. The ladies (can I say ladies) should have been up at least 3-0 at half. They blew the game there. The shootout was icing on the cake. Call it what it is; they choked by hitting the net only once with 12 shots in the first half. They had NEVER lost to Japan and should have beat them soundly.
    But as the old saying goes, that’s why they play the game.
    Oh yeah and Alex Morgan is cute as a button (can I say that?) .

    • Bronzo

      I too find some of these girls mildy attractive…see Heather Mitts

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Dude, female soccer players at the collegiate-or-higher level are usually hot. I don’t think they’re “dolled up” for the games, but I wager that if I (or any other random red-blooded American male without models in their back pockets) saw just about any member of the Women’s US National team in a bar dressed for a night on the town, didn’t know who she was, and she was interested… Yeah, they’d be all about it. They’re all extremely fit, if even to a fault if that’s possible. I’m sure that they fill a short slim-fitting dress quite nicely.

      • mike in davenport

        Volleyball players are where it’s at.

      • Bronzo

        Yes thanks Chris, the hottness level for female soccer players has steadily been trending higher over the years since the days of Mia Hamm etc. Their exraordinary fitness level sure doesn’t hurt.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Agreed about the evolutionary process… We’ve come a long way from Michelle Akers ;)

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        I’ve always been partial to Soccer and Tennis players (Vanessa Menga, anyone?) over Volleyball, but I guess it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that any woman that has attained professional status in a sport that involves significant athletic prowess that she’s likely going to be quite a physical specimen.

  • Cindy G.

    Seems to me that the fact that you don’t care about something does not mean that others don’t, or shouldn’t. You’re starting to sound a little whiny and mean like Mariotti, and we all remember how well that worked out….

  • meesohawnee

    i look at the bright side. at least 2 members on the team weren’t arrested in the same week.

    • WILSON!

      Vanessa Menga. . .meh.
      When the lockout ends two things you can be assured of:

      The Bengals will be a train wreck.
      The Bears offense will be scary bad.

      Good thing the ‘hawks booted Brouwer and kept Stahlberg. (uh-oh, I might be in trouble on that one)

  • up N' Adam

    I’m surprised nobody has asked Terry Boers about the play of U.S midfielder Shannon Boxx ( BY CRACKIE!!!!!!!!).

    Was that bad? That was one of the more mild jokes hurled at the screen during the game. A game I thoroughly enjoyed by the way. ( No diving, no writhing on the ground after suffering injuries that didn’t happen No whining to the referee. The men could actually learn a thing or two from that World Cup. Even though they’re immensely more talented.). I guess I could argue that the reason people always talk about being an inspiration to little girls is that that’s really the only thing a successful woman’s team can accomplish. But whatever.
    When Bernsie is dead set against something, and He was going to write an anti-US women’s soccer article today even if the team won ( You know it. I know it.), you just let him rant and hope he moves on. Afterall, he really hasn’t shown us how he really feels about Juan Pierre.

  • big time sucker

    any reports on the declining morale in joplin missouri since the loss? what about North Dakota or the Mississippi delta after this loss? What about New Orleans, was all that healing obtained by the superbowl shattered by this loss? I didn’t speak very well the last post, my point is this: busses full of people coming to help is a morale boost. most of the people affected by the disasters in either country are too busy cleaning up their messes to care about a soccer game.

    i wanted my daughter to watch because i actually think she would make a good soccer player, because she has strong foot eye cordination and is pretty fast on her feet, the other day with no knowledge of the game she took a soccer ball and basically dribbled around the park effortlessly but then got upset when someone tried to play defense, so i wanted to show her the game for that reason, but at the end of the day bernstein is right on the money, it is not going to foster a new spark in soccer in this country, especially when football looks like it’s all a go at this point

  • Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

    Basically contradicts Danny’s entire point. Or how about the WWL’s poll of who was the bigger choke…the USWNT or the Heat. Danny sets up the spineless straw man just to knock him down. If David Haugh or Telander wrote this, B and B would be the first ones destroying it. Let’s see if Danny takes a step back from the ledge from 1-6pm.


    Don’t bend on Ramirez. Give him as little money as you are obligated for. This is easy.
    No one is getting off this merry-go-round, see!


    I forgot about the Mothra and Gigantor references.

    You know, history shows again (and again) how nature points out the fall of young men.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Totally unrelated to Bernsie’s screed of the day……I am falling in love with Rochester MN because everyone up here is soooooo nice, it’s like everyone you meet is Jim Thome.

    • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

      Did you move LHA?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        No, my wife, Dr. Arse, had surgery today at Mayo.
        She found the surgeon who wrote the book etc.
        We will be up here two-three more weeks with recovery.
        In fact she still hasn’t been brought back to the room, but the surgeon told me that everything was 100% a-ok.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Good to hear all is well LHA. Hope those Twin fans aren’t being too rough on you!

  • Hurricane Thibs

    He’s incorrect. Kozlowski and Memelo on AM 720 called it one of the biggest chokes ever in the World Cup.

    This was right after the match, during Cubs postgame.

  • barcaloner

    I agree that the USWNT choked by every “definition” of sports choking: they were the #1 rank team (so if they did not win it is a choke) and then adding the late leads and then looked really ill on the PKs…

    But I disagree with the headline that “fans” are pretending it was not a “choke.” I think they would tell you that…but I think the anger is more at the media coverage….but when I really think about it, I really don’t hear the word “choke” being thrown around in sports coverage outside of talk (radio) shows. Since we don’t have soccer talk shows, by you calling it a choke are, in fact, providing this service.

  • Scotty Keller

    You’d think Detroit would have streets paved with gold blocks because of all of the Stanley Cups the wings won in the last 20 years!

  • Denver Deadite

    Bernstein is confusing the media – who’s sole objective any more is to spin the story how they want it to read, and of which he is a member – and reality.

    And the reality is that they choked. End of story.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      You just nailed it, Deadite.

  • hammer

    Bernstien, Last week when asked about the womens soccer team by a co host. You immediately phrased your answer on how good looking they were,a nd mentioned nothing about the game or their skills. With those comments you lose ALL credibility.

  • tjdestry

    When I have talked to kids about careers in journalism, I remind them that, if you’re going to cover sports, you have to cover all the sports, even the ones you don’t understand and don’t like. But I’ve learned over the years that this is a lie: You can hate soccer and still be a member in good standing of the “He-Man Woman Haters Club,” which is nearly as good as being able to get a date.

    Grow up Bernstein. If you don’t understand the game, either eddikate yourself or write about something you do understand.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Easy, killer. If you’re telling kids that they have to cover “all” sports in journalism, I suppose I should ask Bert Sugar about Hockey or see what John Clayton’s thoughts are on Crew.

      That aside, as someone who played and has traveled cross-country to see international friendlies, I totally get when people don’t like soccer. Frankly, I think that the acknowledgement of soccer when the US is competing in large-scale international events is a good thing, not a bad one. Bernstein is right- the US should have dominated yesterday, but they lost, and the narrative has been skewed by many sources.

      Hopefully there is a contingent of fans that came away from the WWC thinking “I want to play/learn more/teach my kids/etc”. I don’t think any true soccer fan is going to QUIT playing/supporting soccer as a result of yesterday’s game.

  • Hammer

    “So much for gender equity, I guess. Men embarrass themselves on the field of play and never live it down, becoming ignominious footnotes, dogged by famous collapses the rest of their days. For our sweethearts, though, it’s apparently no big deal.”

    That quote shows what an idiot Berstien is. Does he not watch the NFL and listening to all of the fawning over Favre, even after he throws yet another game away. What about M.J. of the Wizards. It was all about the person and not his ability.
    Bernstien is selectively trying to make his point, without using the real facts of history. That is what people with lazy people with an agenda do. making a real point is to much work.

    • WILSON!

      Once you get championship rings, you’ve reached a certain status in the sports world. Until, it’s obvious that you’ve hung on too long and are, in fact, only in it for your ego. Fantastically, Favre was two plays close to another Superbowl, but he forgot about coaching and thought he could win it all. People won’t forget what they used to be. Those two did legendary things.
      On the other hand, if I said Game 6 in the context of Chicago baseball, do I have to say which Game 6?
      I equate FIFA with Olympic coverage. If you’re American, the gold is yours, and the game is a pretense. Then, you happen to miss the qualifying rounds. Something got lost in the narrative.

      • hammer

        With Favre I was actually talking about his year with the Jets when he single handily threw them out of the playoffs. Never seen an organization so happy to see a hall of famer go.

        My point about the article is still valid. He claims gender inequality? At the same time when asked about the womens team, his first response was which girl was more attractive. Completely classless and undefendable.

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