Originally Posted by iacas
Those people have it backwards a bit.
Americans can win at any sport, simply because of the sheer number of people we have.
I'm sure that's what America would like to think, and I'm equally sure there's some currency in it, but by the same logic think yourself lucky that India has never taken to baseball (3 times America's population) or China for that matter
Certainly when I was younger, in fact I think as recently as the last 15-20 years even, America was pretty dominant across a whole spectrum of sports. Not any more though. The wider picture has been one of retreat and consolidation onto the comfort blanket of domestic sport
It's difficult to keep a handle on boxing admittedly as the number of sanctioning bodies multiplied like a cell dividing, not to mention the number of new weight divisions that have been introduced, but America has long ago abandoned its stranglehold on the blue riband heavyweight division with the affect that interest has dropped right off. Having said that, if there wasn't interest still, the likes of HBO wouldn't exist and the States is still regarded as the commercial epicentre even if the focus has switched Vegas from New York and the heady days of yore
The collapse of American domiance in tennis has been one of the most remarkable retreats I'd suggest. Sampras and Agassi were the last big names, since then it's been almost exclusively Europe, with America struggling to get anyone in the top 10. Hell, even GB beat the US last year in a Davis Cup tie, and we barely know one end of a racket from another. Serena Williams is really notable for her singularity in the womens game. I don't know what the US viewing figures are for tennis these days, but I'm prepared to speculate they've gone the same way as golf
Golf of course is another example where American dominance has been challenged. The Ryder Cup wouldn't be the best vehicle to judge where the balance of power currently rests, and world rankings aren't without their accounting question marks too, but the days of American hegemonic dominance have been gone for a couple decades. But doesn't this make for more compelling viewing? Most people would say yes, competition is good etc so why do viewing figures fall then?
Michael Johnson spends enough time in the UK now lamenting the collapse of track athletics as a sport which he now regards as all but finished in the US. In the London Olympics something remarkable happened in the 400m, America didn't have a finalist (unheard of) and with a supreme piece irony, Belgium had two! America only won the single mens track Olympic gold medal (less than the UK - or Mo Farah to be more precise) albeit the American women ensured that the US topped the table. America has of course endured more than its fair share of positive tests in track and field, and I don't know if this is an issue, but then we've also seen that the advances made in road cycling were hardly achieved on the level either. Come to think of it, you can moan about diving in football (quite rightly I believe) but when it comes to playing fair I'm not sure major league baseball can claim to be a paragon of virtue either.
What's caused America to lose interest in so many of these sports? I know the deniers for golf point to economic issues (even though the clear NGF data points to the decline having started long before the credit crunch). Also the last data I saw didn't show that it accelerated in the credit crunch either, but pretty well maintained a direction of travel that it was already on.
I was given to understand that Canada were the better ice hockey team anyway (or is that Canadian propoganda?).
Is it too simplistic to suggest that greater competition and the loss of dominance has caused a general public to turn away and watch domestic sport instead where there isn't any meaningful international challenge?. I suspect that such an explanation is too simplistic myself, and that there's likely a multitude of different causes, but I'd suggest that it's across the board, so it looks like being something more systemic or cultural. Equally I suspect that its complacent self regard bordering on delusional to suggest that we could win at anything if we could be bothered (I paraphrase). Well there's always a way of proving that. I think you could argue effectively that 'we used to be able to win at things when we were bothered' but then Rome used to have a very powerful empire.
I do wonder if somewhere along the line America has increasingly fused sport (in the athletic sense) with entertainment, and what i can only describe as non sports have taken root on prime time, and eclipsed others which are perhaps more participatory in their appeal?. WWF? Monster Truck racing? Celebrity boxing/ contenders etc One also suspects to that like most western countries there will be an increasing decadance among younger cohorts, or perhaps that's me getting older and making the age homoured mistake of rose tinted reflection
I think that overall your hypothesis is still likely to be correct, and at the very least America would be a lot more competitive, but I suspect you'd find it harder to win and dominate than you think. There are many more countries engaged in the mainstream international sports than used to be the case, and as those countries get richer themselves, they'll acquire adequate facilities.