BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mark's Thoughts: National Pride for Sports - Has the USA forgotten true national sports pride?

A change has occurred with USA fans and players, and it isn't a great thing...

I was watching the finals of the World Baseball Classic and was thinking about a lot of different things. Will this competition survive, although there is little support in the US to keep it going? Is the game of the South East Asian (small ball) better than the the game we see in the major leagues? Will Bum Ho Lee become a house hold name due to his clutch hit in the ninth inning of the WBC Finals? (Seriously, Bum Ho Lee joins my list of names that should be a FCC violation, right up there with Fukudome.) Yet, the question that kept going through my head was; how did we as US fans become so negative?

During the semi-final game between the US and Japan it was interesting to watch the US fans at Dodger stadium. It appeared that the fans had the same feelings that I did while watching the game. How in the crap is the US team losing to the Japanese? This is an embarrassment to be watching the US team come up short again. Why was I feeling this way about the US team? Frankly, because the US team is the team that is least like a team in the tournament.

Sure team USA put it together against the Puerto Rico team, and they were able to survive and continue. They dog-piled on top of David Wright and said all of the right things after the game was over about how proud they were to represent the country. Then after the game the team unity started to go away. The players with minor injuries went back to their teams and left an already shorthanded USA team in an even tougher position. It would have be great for the US team to call down another of their talented players to take the place of the injured, but most players already turned down the request to play for the national team. Why? They were afraid that they might injure themselves or that they just didn't want to give the effort to play that competitive of baseball at this time of year. Those players don't care about national pride, but really just care about themselves. That is the problem with the US teams in international play.

Seeing a US team, an all-star team, a team that really deep down just treats the tournament like another exhibition, really will never truly succeed on the international stage. Playing for your country means something to every other player on the other international squads. This emotion could be seen by the players for both Korea and Japan yesterday. The players that were willing to risk putting their full effort out there, even in the face of perhaps injuring themselves, for the honor of their country. The emotions that the Japanese players had after the victory, and the evident emotions on the faces of the Korean players as they glared from the dugout after the game proved that they were playing for their country. The biggest difference of all came after the game. Japan coming together, jumping up and down, throwing their manager into the air, and most importantly, turning down the pre-made T-shirts and hats that the US staff were trying to hand out to the players.

The Japanese players weren't playing for their own glory, they didn't want to put on the fake T-shirts and hats, and spray each other with champagne to prove how great of players they were and to bask in their own greatness. No they wanted to keep their uniforms on, because those were the uniforms that they were representing the entire tournament. Team Japan was playing for the Japanese, and not for themselves. This mentality was rewarded by the fans in the stadium, and by those thousands gathered together for both teams in their own country.

That is the mentality that is missing from both the US players and the fans of the US national team. Call is arrogance, or capitalism, or lack of patriotism, but something is missing from the US fans and players. Not all fans are like this, and I wouldn't want to put all the players from Team USA in the same category; however, there is a difference and it is making less of our fans and players to lose what the Japanese and Koreans have in bulk. Even if their fall in defeat. National Pride!

No comments: