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European Unity v American Individualism


John Simkin
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There seemed to be a lot of interest in the UK in this year’s Ryder Cup this year. Was this true of other European countries? As the USA team were individual ranked higher in the world they were expected to defeat the Europeans. However, the Europeans, captained by a German and including golfers from England, Spain, France, Ireland and Scotland, won fairly easily. When interviewed about their victory the golfers talked about the marvellous team spirit. Was this an example of European unity against American individualism?

It got me thinking about sporting success. Although the Americans provide a large number of world champions, they don’t produce many outstanding teams that compete on the world stage. Is this a reflection of national character?

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There seemed to be a lot of interest in the UK in this year’s Ryder Cup this year. Was this true of other European countries? As the USA team were individual ranked higher in the world they were expected to defeat the Europeans. However, the Europeans, captained by a German and including golfers from England, Spain, France, Ireland and Scotland, won fairly easily. When interviewed about their victory the golfers talked about the marvellous team spirit. Was this an example of European unity against American individualism?

It got me thinking about sporting success. Although the Americans provide a large number of world champions, they don’t produce many outstanding teams that compete on the world stage. Is this a reflection of national character?

I think you might be reading too much into it, John. The Americans let the pressure of the event get the better of them and the European simply played out of their skin. These things happen in sport. The pressure of favouritism means that the 'best' team doesn't always win. I'm sure you can think of countless sporting occasions when the best team has ended up on the losing side. The match at Edgbaston today springs to mind. Does anybody honestly believe the Australians have poorer team spirit than the England cricket team?

The American football team did remarkably well in the last football World Cup. They had an abundance of team spirit, worked hard for each other and made up for their lack of individual flair by their never-say-die attutude. The USA will also contest the semi-final of the Davis Cup in a few days time against Belarus. In my opinion, they have a very good chance of winning. Their only really top-ranked player is Andy Roddick. US team spirit has seen them defeat some of the great tennis nations during the course of the tournament, including a 4-1 demolition of Sweden in the quarter finals (in Sweden).

Perhaps, the expectation was too great for the American golfers. Their media was convinced they would win, but their golfers froze when the heat was on. Simple as that.

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There seemed to be a lot of interest in the UK in this year’s Ryder Cup this year. Was this true of other European countries? As the USA team were individual ranked higher in the world they were expected to defeat the Europeans. However, the Europeans, captained by a German and including golfers from England, Spain, France, Ireland and Scotland, won fairly easily. When interviewed about their victory the golfers talked about the marvellous team spirit. Was this an example of European unity against American individualism?

It got me thinking about sporting success. Although the Americans provide a large number of world champions, they don’t produce many outstanding teams that compete on the world stage. Is this a reflection of national character?

I think you might be reading too much into it, John. The Americans let the pressure of the event get the better of them and the European simply played out of their skin. These things happen in sport. The pressure of favouritism means that the 'best' team doesn't always win. I'm sure you can think of countless sporting occasions when the best team has ended up on the losing side. The match at Edgbaston today springs to mind. Does anybody honestly believe the Australians have poorer team spirit than the England cricket team?

The American football team did remarkably well in the last football World Cup. They had an abundance of team spirit, worked hard for each other and made up for their lack of individual flair by their never-say-die attutude. The USA will also contest the semi-final of the Davis Cup in a few days time against Belarus. In my opinion, they have a very good chance of winning. Their only really top-ranked player is Andy Roddick. US team spirit has seen them defeat some of the great tennis nations during the course of the tournament, including a 4-1 demolition of Sweden in the quarter finals (in Sweden).

Perhaps, the expectation was too great for the American golfers. Their media was convinced they would win, but their golfers froze when the heat was on. Simple as that.

As a golfer with a great future behind him I am delighted to see the forum discussing something interesting at last ;)

The European team indeed played fantastic golf, had a great team spirit and a far superior captain.

However it is significant that many renowned commentators and professional golfers confidently and accurately predicted what happened before a ball had even been struck. European golf is actually that good.

The European players simply don't feature higher in the world rankings because the points allocated on the ranking system are anachronistically heavily weighted in favour of American tournaments. This gives us the inaccurate picture that some "shock" result has occurred.

On top of this the Europeans play all over the world in all sorts of conditions and are therefore far better equipped with a range of shots. What the European tour doesn't have is the depth of the US tour - this however means that the top Europeans are more used to winning and being in contention - essential when the pressure is on.

They are also younger, fitter and crucially significant numbers of them were bang on form (the European selection process goes over 1 year instead of the 2 for the Americans - this meant some of the Americans were playing due to performances that were over a year old).

Golf is perhaps the ultimate in individualistic games, rather than seeing the Ryder Cup result as a triumph of team work born of national character I would emphasise the role of an intelligent and well prepared captain who was able to "create" a spirit of team work through meticulous preparation. Tactically it was like watching Arsene Wenger pit his wits against Deputy Dawg. Langer made better selections, (Sutton picked a 50 year old as a wild card - bizarre!), consulted with his players, held regular team meetings , listened but also was strong enough to make his own decisions. In contrast when Sutton asked Chris Riley (one of the few Americans in any sort of form) to play again on Saturday afternoon Riley said he needed a rest - Sutton just accepted this. I also got the impression that Sutton had decided on his pairings ages ago (perhaps the players demanded to know in advance?) and seemed incapable of making adjustments in response to what was actually happening in front of him. Maybe his playerrs were just inflexible. if this was the case Sutton is to balme for allowing them to develop this attitude.

So no I don't think the result reflected national characteristics. However watching old Monty play so well has had the desirable knock on effect of inspiring another old has been to win the semi final of his club championship this evening - its a wonderful game :D

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