"Had a men's team turned in a similar performance, papers and pundits nationwide would have had a field day assailing the players, criticizing the coach, and demanding widespread changes to a men's national team that flat out choked. Yet the common reaction to this ladies' loss were simply expressions of empathy for the defeat of the unfortunate darlings and pride in their oh-so-heroic effort."
Bryant Gumbel is tired of your empathy! He continued:
"Can we stop coddling women in sports? Are we now so fearful of being labeled sexist that we can't objectively assess the efforts of female athletes?"
It's a valid point: there was a certain timidity when it came to sports pundits ripping on the U.S. women. And had the same thing happened to the men's national soccer team - a late lead given up thanks to poor coaching, and then a subsequent egg laid in penalty kicks - it would, yes, be Armageddon.
But when was the last time anyone cared about a women's sports team enough to rip them? When was the last time any female sports team had a comparable high-profile loss that would even warrant "coddling"? Gumbel's statements imply that female athletes being given a free pass by the media is an everyday occurrence, when in reality, people rarely care about women's sports enough for such a pass to be given.