Monday, July 18, 2011
Top 10 favorite Athletes Male and Female - US Women Choked in World Cup Final, But....
US Women Choked in World Cup Final, But....
By Michael Ventre
Good article on the world cup loss from Ventre. Very good read!
Nobody likes to lose. It makes your cereal taste sogy and your bed feel lumpy. Depending on the circumstances and what's at stake, losing can remain in your system like a parasite. There is no known cure, other than to go out and win the next time around.
But I have to issue the U.S. women’s soccer team a special waiver, to be used just this once. It’s not because losing is acceptable. It’s just that, considering everything, it’s not as stomach-churning as it could have been.
The U.S. women deserve a few gentle noogies today for squandering a raft of opportunities in their World Cup final Sunday against Japan. In another sporting context, you might be tempted to give them even more of a scolding. In the first half alone, they probably could have been ahead, 5-0, or so, if shots had gone a foot or two this way or that.
They had leads of 1-0, and 2-1 in this 2011 final, and each time allowed a determined team of Japanese women to tie the game. After extra time, it came down to penalty kicks, like it did in 1999. There likely were lots of sports bras on the field Sunday in Frankfurt, but none were bared for the U.S. in a moment of sports exultation and marketing bliss.
The U.S. women failed to come through. They lost.
Here are the three provisos from the aforementioned waiver that apply:
•They played hard and they played well; they just didn’t capitalize on several chances, and they couldn’t fend off Japan.
•They lost to Japan, a nation reeling from the devastation of an earthquake, tsunami and a nuclear disaster. The crushing disappointment that ordinarily accompanies such a defeat is diluted somewhat by the satisfaction that Americans — and the rest of the world, for that matter — feel toward Japan’s spirit-lifting triumph.
•And, it was an exciting game full of plot twists that kept onlookers riveted.
The U.S. women were among the favorites to win this World Cup. Japan wasn’t. The Japanese weren’t considered as athletic or talented as the Americans. What they were was well-coached and disciplined. Plus, they had perseverance, which is often the best thing to have.
If you were rooting for the Americans you experienced queasiness in the first half as opportunity after opportunity either hit a post or went wide or over the goal. There were the conflicting senses that the U.S. was in control and that Japan was gaining confidence. It was that old lament come to life again in sports: “If you let a team hang around and don’t put it away ...”
In the second half, the Americans got a goal by Alex Morgan and one by Abby Wambach
in extra time, but each time Japan fired back to tie the match. It was not an exemplary display by the U.S. of how to close. The Americans were six minutes away from winning their third World Cup before they let Japan back in.
But it was the penalty kicks that represented the icing on a fallen cake. Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath all looked like LeBron in the fourth quarter when they missed penalty shots. Japan won that shootout, 3-1, and with it came its first victory against the U.S. in 26 tries.
So any pundit would ask this question after such a fumbled chance: To rip, or not to
rip? When choosing the former, it is important to feel it in one’s gut. The instinct to hammer must be greater than the one to ease up. In this case, it’s just not there with any real potency.
These U.S. women didn’t lose on a comical own goal. They didn’t pout when things didn’t go their way, like the Brazilian women did against the Americans. And on Sunday, they didn’t deflate after failing to convert chances; they kept competing, especially when it became clear that Japan had no intention of giving up.
Taken as a whole, they had a magnificent run. Generally speaking, they expressed a positive message to the women’s soccer movement in the United States.
Just as Brandi Chastain’s famous moment sticks in the memory, this one will stick in the craw. Just as women’s soccer can hang Brandi’s bra on its mantel as a symbol of female determination in sports, this game will be an aching reminder that you can lose, too.
Sunday’s defeat does not rank on the ignominy-o-meter quite like Greg Norman at the Masters, or the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, or the 2006 Dallas Mavericks/2011 Miami Heat. Those were larger flops.
And there's the national team aspect. These were young women representing their country. (See waiver: section C, subparagraph 5). They gave it their all. It’s just that a lot of their all missed the goal.
On the other side were young women representing their country, one that was desperate for some measure of national pride after an agonizing period of devastation (which figures to continue for some time). None of the Japanese women tore off their shirts to expose their sports bras, but in their own way, simply hugging each other and smiling served the same purpose.
Where do the U.S. women go from here? They keep their heads held high and carry on, with an eye toward 2015. Remember, much of the reason they’re considered among the greatest in the world today is because of the groundwork laid by the 1999 team. That reminded young women interested in soccer that anything is possible.
And now that they know losing is possible after you thought you had it wrapped up, maybe they’ll work that much harder.
Favorite Male and Female Athletes 2011
Every year, Harris Interactive conducts a poll to list America's most popular sports stars. While popularity can be a fungible concept, the results remain somewhat instructive, especially in terms of which players have reached a level of fame beyond their sport's diehard audience.
Last season, Kobe Bryant(notes) found himself at the top of the list of male stars. Now, he's dropped to No. 3 in a tie with Michael Jordan, and behind Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and new champ Derek Jeter of the Yankees. From Janis Carr on OCRegister.com:
Kobe Bryant no longer is the favorite athlete in America, according to a Harris poll, having slipped to No. 3 in 2011. But that's nothing compared to the free fall for LeBron James(notes).
James, who was rated the No. 6 overall favorite athlete in 2010, didn't make the top 10 list this year after leaving Cleveland for Miami's South Beach. He shouldn't feel too badly, though. Brett Farve (No. 4) New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (No. 9) and NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 10) also were left off the list this year. [...]
According to the poll, Bryant remains the top athlete among Hispanics and African-Americans and on the West Coast.
You can access the poll directly here if you have concerns about methodology. While Jeter is the new champ, Serena Williams is listed as the most popular female athlete for the third year in a row. Better luck next time, Abby Wambach.
It's not a surprise to learn that Bryant and James have dropped on this list, because popularity in America is often tied to winning at the highest levels. In the past, both players have been divisive, to the point where they've only been considered likable when they win championships. With the Lakers losing to the Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs, Bryant is no longer the league's golden god. James, obviously, is largely seen as a bratty loser. As such, they're no longer at the top of this vaguely scientific heap.
Maybe next year they'll see their fortunes change. Or, perhaps, Derrick Rose(notes) (No. 9 this year) will move higher after another long playoff run. Worse yet, maybe there won't be an NBA season and the poll participants won't name anyone from the league. And then this post will end up on Shutdown Corner, and you can substitute Tom Brady in for Bryant and read the same post. The world works in mysterious ways.
Here's the complete Top 10:
1. Derek Jeter
2. Peyton Manning
3. (tie) Kobe Bryant
3. (tie) Michael Jordan
5. Tiger Woods
6. Tom Brady
7. (tie) Albert Pujols
7. (tie) Hines Ward
9. Derrick Rose
10. Aaron Rodgers
1. Serena Williams
2. Venus Williams
3. Danica Patrick
4. Maria Sharapova
5. Mia Hamm
6. Anna Kournikova
7. (tie) Martina Navratilova
7. (tie) Sue Bird
9. (tie) Kerry Walsh
9. (tie) Michele Wie
Posted by just BS at 8:48 AM