Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

AMERICAN IDLE

Justin Rose's U.S. Open victory is further evidence that American sports are in the midst of an historic dryspell.

AMERICAN IDLE

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Khruschev was partially right. The Soviets didn't bury us. But the world's athletes are doing a pretty good job of it.

The 113th U.S. Open concluded Sunday at Merion with an Englishman, Justin Rose, its champion. That means seven of our last ten national championships have been won by non-Americans. At this moment, none of golf's four majors are in the hands of Americans.

 We've got two aging and erratic superstars, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who between them have one major victory in the last five years. The comes a slew of young Americans who don't seem to possess the same kind of mental toughness as their European counterparts.

 U.S. tennis players - how many can you identify who aren't named Williams? - can expect the same mistreatment at Wimbledon later this month. We can't beat the Euros in soccer. Our historic advantage in basketball continues to dissipate. The Latins and Japanese are chipping away in baseball. And the only reason we're No. 1 in football is because nobody else plays or cares.

So what happened? Why has blue become the dominant color for red-white-and-blue sports? Is this trend merely cyclical? Or is there something more disturbing at work?

I have my theories on potential culprits:

The "American Idol" syndrome: Think of all the sports talents wasting their lives and cell phone batteries in line at American Idol auditions. Think of all the potential athletes who surrender their pride and manhood each time they don sequins and tap shoes on Dancing with the Stars. Yes, America's Got Talent. It's just the wrong kind.

Once we aspired to be engineers, entrepreneurs and sports heroes. Now we're happy to sing, dance and humiliate ourselves on television. A generation of Thomas Edisons and Tom Bradys is being lost in the mad rush to find the next Tommy Tune.

Am I missing something here? Is there some great national need to populate chorus lines and choirs?

Texting: Until somebody devises a sport that requires thumb dexterity, bad grammar and emoticons, we're doomed to be athletic also-rans. Who has time to develop physical skills when we're spending hours asking each other what we had for lunch, who we're hanging out with and what we're wearing. LOL :)

Over-organized sports: Travel teams. AAU teams. Personal trainers. Personal coaches. Pushy parents. Those few American kids who do make it through the cultural gauntlet and actually find a sport they like are usually so oversaturated by the time they hit 18 that they're ready to retire..

The X-games factor: While their European and Asian counterparts are golfing or playing tennis, millions of American youngsters are trapped in perpetual pre-adolescence, performing Jackass stunts on skateboards, snowboards and outboards. They're more likely to be killed or chased than win the U.S. Open.

ESPN: I'm not really sure how the uber-sports network has contributed to the demise of American sports, but any enterprise that has employed Chris Berman for more than 30 years has to shoulder some of the blamev

Frank Fitzpatrick Inquirer Sports Columnist
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About this blog
Reporter Frank Fitzpatrick, a 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist, is covering his eighth Olympic Games and has yet to win a medal in anything except caffeine consumption. He has also been the beat writer for the Phillies, Eagles and Penn State football.

Frank Fitzpatrick Inquirer Sports Columnist
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