A lot of smart folks I respect seem to really dislike the idea that others labeled a "choke" what the US women's national soccer team did on Sunday in the Women's World Cup final.
Somehow, the "choke" label is simplistic, talk-radio-ish, no-real-fan-would-say-that bunk. Normally, I'm inclined to agree with smart folks -- in this case, I disagree.
Oh, I think that some largely soccer-ignorant fools in sports media are using "choke" like a blunt instrument. But I think that chokery is one of the most compelling things in sports.
It's no shame to choke -- it is perhaps the most human of any result you'll find in sports, even more than championship efforts by an underdog.
Among the anti-choke camp, hidden behind the pretentious "there's-no-nuance-in-choke-analysis" attitude is a weird paternalism, as if people want to protect the team from critical analysis of how they played -- analysis that absolutely can and should include the notion that the team unraveled at the end, with victory almost assuredly in hand.
"Pressure Makes Us" was a wonderful ad campaign for the team -- I suspect they would want to be held to no less of a standard than "championship or failure."
If we can't have an intelligent discussion about the totality of the USWNT's efforts -- from the "never-say-die" attitude to the late-game chokery -- then we do them and us a disservice.