Blog Entry

Where's the passion for the Worlds, America?

Posted on: August 27, 2010 6:09 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2010 10:09 pm
Posted by Royce Young

This is a question I’ve been thinking about the last few weeks. We’re so good at it and we’re about to compete against other countries… yet we don’t give a flip. Which is so weird to me.

For us Americans, you slap “USA” across the chest of anything and we’re rooting for it. I found myself watching hours of curling in last year’s winter Olympics. We root on Michael Phelps in a sport nobody cares about. We act like we’re soccer crazy during the World Cup. But when Team USA laces up the sneakers and takes things to the hardwood, we just don’t seem to care. And I have no idea why.

Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm looked into this and asked it in an even more interesting manner: Why do people like the Oklahoma City Thunder so much and not Team USA when they are so, so similar? Rob and I started chatting about this and some thoughts came to mind for me.

One reason is I think a lot is that the perception (at least in my mind) is that players don’t care about these games. Everyone just assume that Kevin Durant saying that he’d rather win a gold medal than an NBA title is all for show in an effort to pronounce some sort of manufactured patriotism through basketball. I don’t think people believe it. We think players are saying it because it’s the right thing to say, not because they actually are playing for country.

Why do we feel such a sense of pride when Team USA performs well in the World Cup? Why do we all gather in bars and restaurants and 9 in the morning to watch soccer every four year? There’s no reason the World Championships shouldn’t be somewhat as big as the World Cup. Obviously soccer is more popular worldwide, but why do people go soccer crazy here in the US and not for basketball, something we’re awesome at?

My theory is that Americans, for whatever reason, love to play up the underdog. We fall in love with Landon Donovan and the US soccer group because it’s the world’s game and we’re supposed to suck at it. It’s like it’s in our nature to want to say, “We’ll show you guys who sucks at soccer…” Everyone flipped for the Miracle On Ice because we beat the big bad Russians. This past winter, everyone loved the U.S. hockey team again as they took on Canada in the gold medal game. We wanted to beat Canada so badly, the team that supposedly owns hockey.

It’s like it’s this inherent thing Americans are born with. When someone says “You can’t,” we say, “We’ll show you.” And in basketball, there’s nothing to that. We’re supposed to be great. We have the biggest, fastest, strongest players. If we win, what did we prove? That we’re still the best?

Honestly, this sounds absolutely stupid, but I think the 1992 Dream Team might’ve done more harm than good in terms of our interest in international basketball. Before that, we didn’t send our pros and we were just one of the regular teams. But after the ’92 Dream Team, our mindset changed. Our perception was after those Olympics was that everyone else sucks at basketball and we’ll win by 40. At at least, that we should . We no longer respected international basketball because there was no way other countries could compete.

And I don’t think the casual fans have realized that the rest of the world has completely caught up internationally. The 2006 bronze wasn’t a fluke. Team USA just wasn’t good enough. And if we lose this year, the excuse will be because we didn’t send our best. There was no Kobe, Chris Paul, LeBron or Dwyane Wade. Well, the reality is, a lot of the other countries competing don’t have their best players either. So it’s really not a great excuse. Do people not realize it’s been 16 years since we’ve won a World Championship gold? The U.S. hasn’t won since 1994! And how are we not taking this personally?

This is something that will never make sense to me. Heck, I’m as guilty about it as anyone. I’m definitely not as pumped about tomorrow’s action starting as I was for the beginning of the World Cup. And I don’t know why. Sure, we get a bit more excited for the Olympics, but still, it’s nothing to the level of the World Cup or even just a playoff game featuring our favorite team. There’s just no real passion, no enthusiasm for it. Coach K and Jerry Colangelo have done their best to change this, but it’s just some sort of arrogance that Americans have that prevents them from deeply investing in the World Championships.

It’s been 16 years since the Star Spangled Banner played at the end of the World Championships. It’s fine if we don’t care. I guess as long as the 12 wearing red, white and blue do, we should hearing it again anyway.


Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: August 30, 2010 3:12 pm

Also, CBS bitches about the unpopularity of FIBA

Okay CBS, if you're gonna bitch about the unpopularity of FIBA, why don't you post the schedule and the standings. Why not do better coverage on the teams.

But, CBS does a poor job of covering FIBA- no standings, reports, box scores, team coverage, etc...
But CBS wants to bitch about the lack of interest. This is why CBS is getting worse.

Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: August 30, 2010 3:08 pm

Once again, another bad article by a CBS writer

These writers are retarded. The opinions of the writer are whiny and weak.

World soccer and basketball are not nearly the same, apples and oranges.

This writer does a lot of reaching. The reaching gets a scoop of crap. Just a bunch of whining about comparing two totally different ideas.

Crap crap crap.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: August 30, 2010 2:31 pm

Where's the passion for the Worlds, America?

I have a little bit of interest and have even posted a few times, but I really think it is a combination of arrogance that we think it we should win, and when we do not it is a scandel.    Also I think our coverage of the Olympics makes it harder for sports covered there to get coverage elsewhere, this hangover is huge for Swimming, Track and Field and Gymnastics but it also is true for International Basketball. 

Last it does not help that our starting five from the Olympics are taking a break this time, it makes it seem rather trivial to them, so why not for the fans.

If we do win this competition given all of the above, watch out world in the future. 

Since: Apr 21, 2008
Posted on: August 29, 2010 5:57 pm

Where's the passion for the Worlds, America?

I think that most Americans almost want to see USA lose, and it is a shame. So many people want to prove that AMerican basketball players are cocky and don't play as a team that they want to see America lose, so they can have another thing to complain about what is wrong with America. Me personally I get so much more excited about FIBA then any other sporting event in the world, besides basketball Olympics becau
se it's basically FIBA more Americans are paying attention to it so you can talk about it. I feel embarrassed when USA even loses by anything less then ten, and I hope we can finally win this thing.  

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: August 28, 2010 11:17 pm

Where's the passion for the Worlds, America?

Nobody cares about the worlds. They just don't matter. It's the Olympics or nothing. In soccer, the best can't compete in the Olympics, so the World Cup is what matters. In baseball, national teams don't mean a thing at all. Just how it is.

It wouldn't bother me if the U.S. loses again. I think that's a better story anyway.

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: August 28, 2010 1:26 am

Where's the passion for the Worlds, America?

I am stoked for these games.  It doesn't seem like the press put much interest into these games, at least before this year.  I don't want to see any competition.  I want America to win every game by 40. Amd I OK with a 1 point win as we did against Spain?  Yes!  Did I enjoy seeing the Lakers play such a close game 7 against the Celtics.  A blow out would have been more enjoyable to me.  Did Boston kicking the Lakers butt in game 6 two years ago feel any different than if the Lakers had lost by 1?  Yes! It was worse.  Margin of victory matters.  Winning matters more.  Maybe it is just me.  I am excited for this team and I hope they win it all.  Close games?  As long as they are a win I am OK with it, if they are a blow out I am even happier.  Go U.S.A.

Since: Aug 14, 2008
Posted on: August 27, 2010 9:46 pm

Where's the passion for the Worlds, America?

Don’t get me wrong, I love international basketball, but it’s never going to gain that much attention from regular NBA fans in the U.S because were a big country with the best basketball league and are always expected to dominate and usually do. It would take some of the European countries grouped together in order to really challenge us like the Yugo- Saliva and the Soviet Union did for a while. It’s very rare that one country a lone will ever beat us. Argentina, Spain and Greece are the only ones that have actually beat us multiple times, but that was in an era from 02-06 when we were putting crappy teams together filled with cocky punks and ball hogs. People just want to see good competition. I do to. I’m tired of hearing, “Who will finish 2nd behind U.S.A?” I want good competition. I had a lot of respect for that Argentinian team that beat us in 04 and I want to see more of that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll root for U.S.A, but I want a good fight.

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