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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.

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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