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U.S. stars have a hard time playing with others


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No `I' in team, but there's a `me'

U.S. stars have a hard time playing well with others

Sep. 26, 2006. 01:00 AM

DAVE FESCHUK

In the boozy, woozy celebration that followed Europe's latest dismantling of the U.S. Ryder Cup squad, Sergio Garcia was heard to repeat a near-universal sporting sentiment: "There's nothing better than beating the Americans."

Agreed. But these days, is there anything more routine? Once the undisputed paragons of sport, the United States finds itself in an unbridled slump. The Americans, to recap a year worthy of jeers, tanked at the World Baseball Classic, which might not have been so bad if they wouldn't have underachieved at soccer's World Cup. They also lost in the semifinals at the men's world basketball championships to Greece, this after getting their heads handed to them at the 2004 Olympics by 12 guys from Puerto Rico. And this past week they scored a measly bronze at the women's hoops championships, ceding gold to Australia (population 10 million women, which wouldn't be enough to satiate a season of NBA groupie action).

And it's not getting better. On Sunday, Andy Roddick lost to a Russian and the U.S. was summarily knocked out of the Davis Cup. Last winter the U.S. was dispatched from the Olympic men's hockey tournament before they had occasion to trash a hotel room. And what's worse, Americans haven't won the America's Cup of sailing ? a trophy made by Americans for Americans ? since 1992.

Hey, did you hear they're building a new Yankee Stadium? The Germans won the contract.

Since when did the Stars and Stripes begin exporting bums and unfounded hype? The easy answer, and maybe the correct one, is that Americans ? who have turned rugged individualism into a religion of sorts ? just don't play well together. Tiger Woods is without question the greatest athlete at work today. But judging by his still-lacklustre Ryder Cup record, there is something to be said for the theory that he ? along with the athletes of his generation raised in the me-first Petri dish ? only musters his peerless killer instinct when he's the sole beneficiary of the exertion. (Witness his win in singles on Sunday, which followed a mediocre performance in team play). There is, indeed, no I in team, but there is one in Tiger (and another in Eldrick). Which is no slight on a guy who plays in a sport that, save one week out of every 52, is a me-first game.

The U.S. men's basketball squad, more to the crime, is mostly a bunch of one-on-one freelancers who barely know how to play the two-man game, let alone play like a five-man collective. And the symptoms of engrained selfishness trickle down.

As Jim Litke, an Associated Press columnist, noted, the U.S.'s inability to form winning teams "looks ominously more like a trend than a coincidence." Litke, writing from the K Club in Ireland, even got Michael Jordan to weigh in on what is fast becoming the conventional thinking.

"Maybe we don't play team sports well, because even in those, all you hear about growing up is how you can't ever count on anybody but yourself," Jordan, who watched the Ryder Cup from inside the ropes, told the Associated Press on the weekend. "And what do you see every time you turn on the TV? Highlights. Somebody doing something spectacular, and usually it looks like he's doing it by himself. After watching that all the time, what kid is going to work on fundamentals ? passing, setting up teammates, playing defence, stuff like that?"

Let us not get too smug. The Americans are still the reigning supremos of the Summer Olympiad, winners of 102 Athens medals (most of which came in individual or non-team events). That doesn't exactly suggest a jock-wise crisis, unless you point out that their marquee sprinter, Justin Gatlin, was recently banned from competition by the anti-doping authorities, pending an appeal, and that the American many thought was replacing Lance Armstrong as the world's best cyclist, Floyd Landis, turned the Tour de France into the Tour de Fraud.

Word is LeBron James is learning Mandarin in anticipation for the 2008 Olympics, not coincidentally because China is a market yet to be fully exploited by the shoe company and the soft-drink giant for whom he shills. James might be better to learn a language his U.S. teammates understand, not to mention how to shoot clutch free throws. If you watched James play at the world championships you'll know he is a marketable commodity and a great basketball player. And you'll also know that he, like a lot of Americans, doesn't quite have a clue how to play with a team on which he isn't the unquestioned No.1.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentSe...4&t=TS_Home

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Sorry, but was a real ###### of an article to put it bluntly.

Since when did the Stars and Stripes begin exporting bums and unfounded hype?

So if we aren't winning, we are then bums? Wow, and here I thought Canadians were the civilized bunch in the North American continent - or at least thats what they keep telling us.

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I was wondering if anything about the Ryder Cup would make it on here, I'm surprised it took this long.

Sep. 26, 2006. 01:00 AM

DAVE FESCHUK

Tiger Woods is without question the greatest athlete at work today.

He's probably the greatest golfer, but athlete?.. how can anyone be the greatest athlete, it's just too difficult to compare across all sports IMO.

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Sorry, but was a real ###### of an article to put it bluntly.

So if we aren't winning, we are then bums? Wow, and here I thought Canadians were the civilized bunch in the North American continent - or at least thats what they keep telling us.

i always thought americans wanted to win everything all the time, so i suppose if you go off that, finished second makes you a loser. the article does make some valid points (eg woods in the ryder cup) but does seem a bit exagerated

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i always thought americans wanted to win everything all the time, so i suppose if you go off that, finished second makes you a loser. the article does make some valid points (eg woods in the ryder cup) but does seem a bit exagerated

I would hope that in sports, you would always want to be the winner? Why would you play except to try and win? I could see playing for the the intrinsic reward when shooting hoops with your friends, but at the professional level your job is to win more than you lose.

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I would hope that in sports, you would always want to be the winner? Why would you play except to try and win? I could see playing for the the intrinsic reward when shooting hoops with your friends, but at the professional level your job is to win more than you lose.

i would say playing well is more important than winning. if you play as well as you can (or better) and still lose, then you finished as best as you can. if you play badly and no where near what you can, and lose, then yes it'd be a "failure".

I would also say, that everyone should try/want to win but it seems to me americans are only happy after they win and not if they played the best they could but lost to a clearly better team/person

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Is there a point to that article other than to laugh at America sports team? I find it funny that he mentions the USA basketball. We haven't been sending our best players to international competitions. Was the USA team even favored in the World Baseball Classic? Why even bring up the women's teams. They had a long winning streak in international competition. They were bound to lose at some point. I won't even consider tennis and golf team sports. The writer even brings up hockey and sailing. Sailing. I don't think most Americans care enough about sailing for it to make it on ESPN 8. The Americans weren't even favored to get out of their group.

Why even bring up the Tour De France. The pre-race doping scandal by many teams involved brought suspicion to the sport long before anyone heard about Floyd Landis.

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What a stupid ****ing arcticle. See what you cant seem to squeeze in your canadian head is that the only reason these things are news is because the united states did NOT win. This kind of **** just gives more credit to the united states, because its shows how much better they have been then the rest of the world. Are you that ****ing stupid that you cant realize that in most of these types of events its USA vs. THE WORLD, yeah the whole rest of the ****ing world, not a country, not a continent, the whole damn world. Pretty sad huh.

And you wonder why the US lost in the ryder cup. Well ill let you in on a little secret that I have been keeping to myself for awhile now, but i think its time i let this out. GOLF IS NOT A TEAM SPORT, yeah its true people, you heard it here first, golf isnt a team sport. Sorry to burst your American Hate bubble, but yeah thats the truth about golf.

Yeah go ahead and give me a warning, because how dare i say something like that when someone post a retarded article.

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The United States is not expected to win the World Cup or something related to Cricket. Basketball and Baseball, however, are considered to be American sports although I am sure they have some international appeal as well. Suffice to say that the individuals playing for the United States Basketball team have much, much higher salaries than the Greek team and yet they lost. Same thing in the World Baseball Classic. When you invest that much money on talent you expect them to win. In terms of Golf being a team sport or not, the European players did seem to play well together (well enough to double up the Americans anyway).

Sure the article is over the top (particularly the "Since when did the Stars and Stripes begin exporting bums and unfounded hype?" comment) but overall, I think the article makes a valid point. Americans seemed to play better together in the past but the exploding salaries have created ego-driven me-first players.

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I don't know if that's the truth in reality. For baseball alot of talent is from Caribbean counties and others. If you look at a a list of the top twenty players you will see that the list is populated by people like Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Johan Santana and so on. Cuba has always had great teams in the past. Then you can add in the emergence of Asians teams. I want to say that the Domican Republic was the favorite going into the World Baseball Classic. For the US troubles in international basketball, the biggest problem is that we aren't sending our best talent on a consistent basis. We have been sending a collection of talent not a team. Also the talent level of the outher countries has increased since the original Dream Team. Another problem that i see is that our players are just not used to playing under international rules.

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The United States is not expected to win the World Cup or something related to Cricket. Basketball and Baseball, however, are considered to be American sports although I am sure they have some international appeal as well. Suffice to say that the individuals playing for the United States Basketball team have much, much higher salaries than the Greek team and yet they lost. Same thing in the World Baseball Classic. When you invest that much money on talent you expect them to win. In terms of Golf being a team sport or not, the European players did seem to play well together (well enough to double up the Americans anyway).

Sure the article is over the top (particularly the "Since when did the Stars and Stripes begin exporting bums and unfounded hype?" comment) but overall, I think the article makes a valid point. Americans seemed to play better together in the past but the exploding salaries have created ego-driven me-first players.

The difference is that the Greek team has played together for 7 or 8 years and the investment in those guys is primarily for playing against other teams. On the other hand...our guys basically show up and play. They are paid to compete in the NBA against NBA teams...not to risk getting hurt in the off season in some foreign competition. The best of the American players don't show up in the Olympics and World Tournaments (No Shaq, No McGrady, No Bryant, etc..). They have too much at stake if they were to tear an ACL or get injured any other way when playing "extra" basketball.

The same basically applies to Baseball also...except a higher percentage of MLB players actually come from foreign countries. TONS of MLB players are born in South America and the Caribbean. So those teams naturally will be strong. Baseball means more to Cubans, South Americans, Dominicans, etc....Its just not the "National Pastime" that is used to be here in America. Its a stagnant sport because of how slow the game is on television.

Now Golf...umm when did Gold become a "Team Sport"??? If golfer play as a "team" one time (during the Ryder Cup) how does it qualify as a "Team Sport"? Anyhow...could it be that the course they play doesn't lend itself to American talent? Could it be that the people who invented the sport played better than America? Na....I'm sure its because we can't share with the other kids.

The author obviously need to take a look at the Canadian Hockey team too (Oops..must have fogot about that). Lets not forget the crazy talented rosters of the Dominican, Venezuelan, and Puerto Rican Baseball teams either. Did they win the World Baseball Classic? Its not just Americans who "don't play well with other...blah blah blah". Most athletes lose their hunger in International play when they risk losing it all at home if they play too hard and get serioulsy injured.

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