No, America, your champions are certainly not world champions

Perhaps other countries value their brain cells too much to play American football.

Monday February 29 2016

Sam Arneson #49 of the Wisconsin Badgers loses the ball next to Darron Lee #43 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 6, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NFL is still the richest league on earth though. Its pockets may be deep, but its appeal thin on the ground outside the land of the free.  

By WAGA ODONGO
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American sports don’t travel well. Their appeal melts away at the border.

American football, for example, is a strange game only locals could love. It’s hard to explain what it is to a newbie aside from saying it is rugby for men who wear pads.

NFL is still the richest league on earth though. Its pockets may be deep, but its appeal thin on the ground outside the land of the free.

Perhaps other countries value their brain cells too much to play American football.

Baseball, meanwhile, is so neurotically obsessed with statistics, that the most popular baseball movie ever made, "Moneyball", is about a man and his spreadsheet.

The whole point of the game from what I gather is that it is meant to generate more data to slot into columns for mathematical analysis.

It is a sport whose greats are described in prose with numbers, not using poetry with flowery language. So naturally, the rest of the world doesn’t care much for the sport.

Then we have basketball. It has been successful outside the US. Basketball is the world’s second-favourite sport after football, real football if you ignore cricket.

It has travelled well out of the New World unlike other American pastimes. America’s puritan and protestant roots stop them from designing a game people can enjoy.

The reason that basketball is so popular around the world is because it was invented by a Canadian, not a USian.

The NBA is getting more popular than ever and seems destined to be the world’s second-most popular league after the English Premier League.

It was interesting recently to watch the showcase NBA All-Star game. This is where fans vote to have a side filled with the best talent to play a non-competitive game.

During the festivities, members of the Golden State Warriors, the current NBA champions, were described by various television presenters as “world champions”.

Championship rings given out to champions in NFL and NBA aside from being absurdly bejewelled, contains the boast “World Champions”.

Even allowing for American bluster, this was the most annoying thing I have ever heard.

THE AMERICA WORLD
I know the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA. Their embrace of the three point shot as the centrepiece of their artillery has led them to a championship, and they are odds on favourites to retain their crown.

Their record-breaking dominance has dulled the league. They also have the best player in the league and quite possible in basketball: Steph Curry.

Sport is filled with hyperbole, but there is little doubt that Stephen Curry is the best basketball shooter the world has ever seen.

His numbers bear it out and he is still improving. The fact that he has a television-ready wife and pretty kid has only endeared him further. He is one of those game changing athletes.

Michael Jordan popularised the NBA around the world with his dunking, but he was a feat of human engineering.

At 6’6’’ he was below the average NBA height but to everyone else thought he was a giant. The average person could not jump as high as he does. You could idolise him, but you could never be like Mike.

At a petite 6’3’’ Curry struggles to dunk. He is taller than almost everyone else, but compared to the giants in the league, he looks human.

His main skill shooting is democratic. Anyone can shoot the ball with some training. 

But we have never seen anyone shoot with the level of accuracy that Curry does from beyond eight metres.

BRAVADO LAND

Kids watching the game today won’t be rushing to the bucket to make layups or dunk, they will be lining up beyond the arc to shoot.

Basketball is no longer a game for Goliaths, David now has a chance. Steph has changed the game, range is the new hang time, step back three pointers are in and dunks are so 90s.

Is Curry the best player in the NBA, a world champion like it says on his ring?

How can you be world champions when the sport association that governs your league has the word “national” in the title?

America is a world unto itself. It is the land of bravado, showboating and chest-thumping.

It is the land of the dollar, the world’s backup cash, the internet - the world’s messaging board and language used in science and business.

Yankee language has taken over English with its syntax, pronunciation and syntax. It is only a matter of time before the nation votes to put an exclamation mark at the end of its name.

It is a travesty that it is the “!Kung” tribe in Southern Africa that has the exclamation rather than our self-identifying greatest nation ever.

It is America, and you suspect it could take on the world. You suspect that the Pentagon has run scenarios of a World War started by President Trump against the rest of the world in which America wins. 

The Ryder Cup is played between America and Europe.

The NBA rising star showcase game is between America and the world, and you would be advised to root for the country, not the planet. 

WORLD LEADER

America is the dominant economic, social and cultural power, but my god, their teams are not World Champions.

The NBA is so absurdly rich that it can afford to top up whatever local talent there is with foreign imports that doesn’t make your sport international.

Most EPL teams are owned by non-British citizens, the attacking playing position have almost all been outsourced to Spaniards and the French, however, the Champions of England are not world champions.  

US players have also failed at the grandest stage. Argentina and Spain have both beat the Americans at the Olympics.

It took Americans 16 years to win the basketball world cup despite having all the best players. Stateside brilliance on the court has not always translated to global dominance.

It is ignorant and arrogant to call yourselves world champions just by winning the NFL, MLB or the NBA.

You can’t be the World Champions when the world doesn’t play, in the case of the NFL.

America is still a world leader: at jailing people, shooting school children and blowing things up. President Trump will only make them greater when he comes to Office in 2017.

In fact, since Trump came up with the Miss Universe competition because Miss World was not grand enough, 2017 NBA champs should have rings with the words “Intergalactic Champions”. The “world” is not enough.

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