Whether reading accounts of the World Cup and the British Open, or watching television or listening to talk radio about them, one theme was discussed over and over - the subject of choking. Did the U.S. women choke? Did Phil Mickelson choke?
The arguments shared by those who claim “choke” by the females are that they were big favorites, missed on early opportunities, gave up goals that could have been avoided and performed poorly during the penalty kick phase of the contest. Losing as an overwhelming favorite has nothing to do with choking; maybe overlooking the opponent or taking them too lightly (neither of which explanation I believe was the case with the World Cup final), but not choking. The early lost chances could have been chalked up to lack of focus, not choking. The first goal for Japan was due to a mistake in clearing the ball, not because the players involved choked. Granted, the second goal should never have happened but because of a questionable strategical decision, not anything related to choking. Regarding the PKs, two of the misses were superbly turned away by Japan’s goalkeeper and while the other miss was badly airmailed, to reason that one play caused the loss would be absurd.
Only because Phil Mickelson played absolutely magnificently for the first half of the final round was he even in contention for the Open Championship. Lefty’s explanation for some risky shots was that he saw Darren Clarke was playing so well he knew taking risks were the only chance anyone would have to beat him. I’ll take his analysis over some talking head whose golf game is more like mine than Mickelson’s. He does miss more short putts than any great player but the rest of his game is as good or better than nearly everyone on tour so if that’s choking, he’s a choker.
The word “choke” is overused, especially in these two situations. A little empathy would be wise in sports, considering our own performances. As Stephen Covey has said:
“We judge others by their actions, ourselves by our intentions.“