Tuesday, October 2, 2012

USA vs Europe

As everybody knows, the Europeans retained the Ryder Cup -- again. This after having once been down 10-4 in scoring, only to roar back and win 14 1/2 - 13 1/2.  That might be akin to an NFL team leading by three touchdowns at halftime, at home, then having the visiting team dominate them in the second half, and ultimately win the game on a last second field goal. Ouch.

Did the Americans choke or are the Europeans just that good? An argument could be made either way. Of course, the American apologists are trying to play it down by saying it was more important to the Europeans than to the Americans. Hogwash. The last time the US won the Ryder Cup, the players were celebrating like a team that had just won the World Series. The "Yanks" wanted it -- bad. Who's kidding who here?

At that, it leaves one to wonder -- just what are we Americans better at in sports than the Europeans these days?

Certainly men's basketball. The US Olympic team routinely cruises to the gold medal. The ladies have more of a dogfight (or is that catfight?) on their hands.

Definitely pro baseball, but that's not a fair comparison. Europeans basically don't even compete in the sport.

Hockey? The Americans are actually a minority in the NHL. Besides Canadians, most NHL squads have a liberal sprinkling of European players on them. Put the top US born players together as a team, and many European national teams would likely beat them. Even the "Miracle on Ice" over 30 years ago was truly that -- a miracle. Regardless, nowadays it could fairly be said the Americans are far from dominant.

In ladies' tennis, Serena Williams is still as good or better than anybody else. Yet on the mens' side the US doesn't even seem to have a serious contender. The last few years, guys named Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic have won just about everything. They're from Spain, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia, respectively, all European countries.

Football is a trick question. Certainly the NFL is the pinnacle of American-style football, but again, the Europeans don't have much interest in that particular game. Even the mighty NFL's efforts to start a European league fizzled out. They're just not into it. On the other hand, the Europeans have their own variety, futbol, aka soccer, which they are equally passionate about. For whatever reasons, when it comes to soccer, the US doesn't measure up to the Europeans at the highest level.

But for now it's about golf. On the ladies' side, the Asians have become dominant, leaving both Europe and the US in the dust -- so that's a push for this topic. Looking at the top 5 in the world rankings for men reveals 3 Brits, Tiger Woods checking in at #2, and that pesky Irish kid McIlroy standing on top of the heap. Advantage definitely Europe.

On a related note, Tiger himself seems to be quite the paradox when it comes to golf. On the American tour he was once all but unbeatable. Yet even then he became quite mortal in Ryder Cup competition. In other words, in Ryder Cup matches, he actually lost more than he won. During this year's Cup competition, Woods went a miserable 0-3-1, to bring his all time Ryder Cup record to 13-16-3. Being the #2 golfer in the world is still very impressive, but Tiger seems to function much better as a lone wolf against the pack. When he's on a team, much less being stared down in a one on one competition, the wheels seem to come off his game. Weird.

Ah well, there's always hope for us Yanks. How long until the next Summer Olympics anyway?

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