Wow, Bryant Gumbel's comments about the alleged "coddling" of the U.S. women's soccer team (see this previous post) have struck a nerve among many readers - many of whom agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Gumbel.
There is no question that there is an element of sexism in the relatively sympathetic reaction to Sunday's Women's World Cup final, with the losing U.S. squad taking less guff than one might normally expect for a favored team that blew two late leads.
However, in fairness to those of us who have been gushing about the event, three points that have contributed to the reaction:
1. It was a great game and a great bit of sports theater, and in such situations it always is more difficult to look upon the losing team as losers.
2. The compelling story of the winning Japanese team and what the victory meant to that beleaguered country was a strong narrative counterbalance to the U.S. loss.
3. It is one thing for passionate, day-in and day-out soccer journalists and fans to have strong opinions about what went down. But it doesn't seem quite right for those of us who generally ignore women's soccer and have no particular insights into it to break down in detail what went wrong, who is to blame, etc.
OK, then. Back to baseball.