European view of American Cyclist/Athletes

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by 03teamdisco, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. 03teamdisco

    03teamdisco New Member

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    Hi All, I am writing a paper for university on how the world views American cyclist/athletes and their need to be #1. Thanks Brian
     
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  2. scottmilk9

    scottmilk9 New Member

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    Isn't every athletes goal to be number one? I've spoken with people from other countries about our way of life, thats the reason people don't like us, its not just cyclists or athletes. Most foreigners(to america) think we're arrogant and look down upon other countries, which is not true at all. Good luck on your article, when finished I would be interested on what people say. Thanks
     
  3. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

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    I believe, as the other poster stated, that the objective of all atheletes is to be #1. Now, given politics and all that comes with it, there are times when people who are anti-American express this by attempting to antagonise American atheletes, but that goes with the territory, IMHO.

    You need, however, to separate sporting support and any anti-American views on atheletes simply due to their nationality. I, for example, did not like Lance Armstrong as an athelete, but that was more because of his exclusive focus on the TdF, which was justified (I must admit) both by his results (you cannot argue with the guy who sets one objective and always delivers!) and his sponsorship requirements (Armstrong raced almost exclusively on a mainly American sponsored team, and most Americans are really only aware of the TdF). I had no problems with his American-ness... only with his attitude towards the rest of the cycling season and the manner in which this 'devalued' the rest of the racing calendar.

    But if you want us to help you, please expand on what are you trying to argue in your paper...
     
  4. Tonto

    Tonto New Member

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    I think maybe you're focussing on the wrong thing. I think most athletes (certainly the top ones) are driven by a desire to be number 1, to completely dominate their opponents. Taking cycling and Lance Armstrong as an example. He may, to some, appear to epitomise the arrogant American sportsman, but he was no more arrogant or driven than, for example Bernard Hinault or Jacques Anquetil. Is there a more determined and driven athlete in sport right now than the Swiss Roger Federer? The difference in sporting culture and attitudes is likely not with the athletes themselves, but rather with the fans.
    I think it would be a reasonably safe generalisation to say US sports fans are obsessed with winners. There wasn't a whole lot of US interest in Armstrong's early career but once he started knocking out TdF wins, insterest rocketed (of course there's the cancer survivorship angle too). On the other hand the French public never took to serial winner Anquetil but adored 'the Eternal Second' Poulidor.
    US sports generally don't tolerate a tie. Games go to overtime instead of allowing teams to share the spoils. Whereas Italian football purists describe a high quality 0-0 tie as 'the perfect game'. Winning the game isn't perceived as the be all and end all.
    I've been in Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona and witnessed the fans booing their own time, while winning 3-0, for not playing with enough style. English football fans will stand and applaud their team after losing simply because they played with the required passion and commitment to the team. I'm not sure either would be common in US sports?

    I know I've probably given some poor examples to try and illustrate the point, but in short, I think that athletes are pretty much the same beasts the world over while a much more interesting comparison would exist between US and European sports fans and the general sporting culture.

    Good luck :)
     
  5. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

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    Excellent post Tonto. I think you really got it right!
     
  6. The Double Zero

    The Double Zero New Member

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    Hi Brian, I noticed your post says European, then your topic states world views american atheletes, so I have an Australian point of view.
    I think American atheletes are a bit too money driven especially the mainstream sports like where there seems to be no team loyalty and there are too many individuals playing for themselves rather than the benefit of the team. There is something not right about an athlete earning millions and whinging they are not getting enough money.
    I don't think there are too many cyclists that fall into this category however, as there are no real massive contracts like this.
    As a whole though, athletes are atheletes and strive to be the best that they can be.
     
  7. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Interesting question : for an Irish perspective, the US has been responsible for the flourishing of a lot of Irish athletic talent.
    Primarily universities like Villanova provided training for Irish athletes who would never have reached the levels that they did, had they stayed here for example.
    Runners like Ronnie Delaney, Eamonn Coughlan, John Treacy have all said that they owe their subsequent success to their time on the University Track and Field circuit.
    They say that the level of competition in the USA - and the level of discipline to be able to compete at that level - made they what they were, as athletes.
    The old saying "the annual US T&F championships were tougher than the Olympics" bears this out.

    Having said that the obsession with winning - and winning by any means - seems to be more prevalent in the USA.
    Whether this desire is attributable to money/endorsements/fame is an interesting question.

    A brief history of how professional sport derived might help.
    Up until the Edwardian era in Britain, sport had been viewed (and was regulated) on a purely amateur basis.
    "Muscular Christianity" "Healthy Mind leads to a Healthy Body" were the catchphrases of that era.
    Young men (women were no encouraged to play sport) were encouraged to play sport "for the love of the game". This was known as the Corinthian Spirit.

    Until 1895, the Rugby Union had overseen the spread of the game of rugby throughout Britain.
    However, because rugby was played on saturday - and most people worked a full day on saturday - rugby players had to take unpaid leave to play for their team.
    Because the players were "out of pocket" - they sought compensation from the Rugby Union.
    When the Rugby Union refused to compensate them - a group of players and administrators set up the Rugby League (professional rugby).
    Thus you had a schism in the sport - a schism so devicsive that it meant that if a rugby union player, decided to leave and play rugby league, that he was hit with a lifetime ban from playying rugby union.
    This conflict spread to games like soccer, cricket (where the amateurs were referred to as "gentlemen" and professionals were known as "players") etc.
    With spread of sport throughout the world, games like Baseball became "infected" with professionalism and attitudes about winning became fair game.
    The "say it ain't so, Joe" incident in the 1919 when the world series was thrown is an example.

    But back to the question - how is US athletes viewed?
    I would say that the level of investment in US sports (sports facilities) is the envy of a lot of other nations.
    I would also say that the level of competition in the US in international sports (Tennis, Golf, Swimming, T&F) makes the US system more competitive and attracts foreign competitors to "test their mettle" in the US.

    But like PP and Tonto say, 0-0 draw in soccer can be one of the best results especially when two greats sides play each other.
    I thought Germany V Italy in the 2006 world cup semi-final was a beautful game to watch, for example.
    Italy won - but the game, two opposing teams with two different systems would interest any follower of the game.
    I'm not sure that US fans would share the same sentiments.
     
  8. Flyer's.Finale!

    Flyer's.Finale! New Member

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    Public corporations invest $100 BILLION into USA media advertising each year.

    Most of that is plowed into sports-entertainment, mythology, selling themes, endorsements and event outcome fixes, as needed for validation of said themes.

    Illegal gambling on sporting events is a $200 BILLION industry with plenty of override fees paid to media enablers---who love gaming, which in turn feeds the media ratings and enhances the TV & radio spot fees.

    The NFL, MLB, NBA and WWE are owned and operated by wealthy white BILLIONAIRES. WADA has no influence on them whatsoever. They create there own heros and bury and glorify their dead soldiers.

    OLN, Nike, Bristol Meyers did much the same thing with Lance Armstrong for a Tour-centric TV show. Bettini, Museeuw, Boonen, Simoni, DiLuca were allowed spotlight time outside the American TDF franchise.

    Now we are in a reevaluation period. America appears to be moving away from cycling underwriting and back to titanium helmets, amphetamine, cortisone and steroids.

    Look for the NFL, MLB & NBA to go global soon!
     
  9. atomship47

    atomship47 New Member

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    interesting. perhaps try a couple of polls....

    i'd agree, top athletes in any sport probably have a combination of natural ability, dedication to training and an unusually strong competitive spirit or drive to win. forgive the american analogies; walter payton was rather small for a running back in the nfl. however, his relentless training/conditioning was legendary. watching his runs, it seems he simply "willed" more yards on each play. ricky williams had it all. size, speed, agility. in college he was one of the best running backs to ever play for UT. some say he was better than walter campbell in college. he dominated opponents in college. in the pros, when there was less of a gap in talent, he failed miserably. character flaw.

    as far as differences amongst cultures, etc. i don't know. the more diverse the people i meet, the more i've come to believe..."people are people" anywhere you go, most people generally want to "be" and "do" good. everywhere you go a small percentage of people are heroes. everywhere you go a percentage of people are a*&holes. and most are just "typical" people.

    perception of americans? don't know...i are one. it does sound like many people think there's a hugh heffener on every block. don't i wish. i haven't figured out who the hugh is on my block...dammit!

    the world would be a better place if people treated others based upon their personal experiences and perceptions rather than what the media, gov't, church, parents, teachers, etc. portray. unfortunately, the more "global" a country's politics, influence and economy, the more attention it brings upon itself. invariably, that attention becomes negative.

    but i digress..........one thing i hate about the major, north american sports, flash, trash-talking and show-boating is encouraged. at my kid's bus stop, i see the other grade-schoolers mimicking end-zone dances, taunts, etc they saw in the game the night before. all that is encouraged by the media and $$$$. sensationalism sells. look at the nhl. what have the owners and league done to the sport?....bastardized it so it can be sold to the general public. change uniforms regularly to stir up merchandise sales. the general public has a short attention span. they need basketball on ice. whoops...another pet peeve. i'll stop before i get too worked up.
     
  10. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Never happen.

    I can't count the number of times, American football, Baseball has been launched/relaunched and has failed to establish a foothold here in Europe.
     
  11. Flyer's.Finale!

    Flyer's.Finale! New Member

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    It will happen sooner than you can utter:

    MacDonalds, Coca Cola, Fanta, Starbucks or Lance Pharmstrong.

    Soccer is a much tougher sell.

    NFL is violent. Roman Gladiators with much better drugs!
     
  12. rooman

    rooman New Member

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    concur...

    spot on Tonto...

    Europeans and (maybe I'm biased too from a nationalistic point of view) many Asian and South East Asian sports Fans are the same. It is the spirit of the game and the effort, determination and craft of the participants that matters more often to them, NOT winning at all costs...

    There is a strong driver for this. I've lived in the US and have seen first hand the effect of the media and corporate America on sport fans, at local, college and national levels. It is also about profile and dollars and the culture of winning which reigns over competing and doing your best fairly in the US. US sports fans require the WIN outcome sure, as winning directs prize money and sponsorship and media commentary, thus it is dollar focused not determined by the pure spirit of the game, this ties in with theireview of social success and achievement IMO.

    I dont think I am out of line when I say Corporate America is a dominant driver here. A good example of this is Host Broadcast TV coverage during any Olympic Games which is not in the North American Continent. This now seems to dictated by the High Bidding US Broadcaster . Beijing 2008 Olympic finals of profile events are scheduled away from historic finals times to permit Prime Time viewing in USA as the networks command the dollars and (regrettably!) the IOC has fallen into line at the cost of the athletes ( eg: the swimmers).

    That is a serious indictment on US support for sport and thus the perception by Europeans and others of the drivers behind US sport.
    Corporate "Interests" can and do conflict with the spirit of the game due to the pressure of financial return.

    True fans will get up and watch at whatever time the event goes to air, not "expect it in Prime Time", with todays gadgetry, many can watch at anytime of the day or night. But still we see Beijing having the schedules changed for sponsors.

    From a cycling perspective a UCI Pro Tour which encompasses a world wide series of locales will certainly give cycling supporters the opportunity to place an international sport on an equal footing across all cultures, rather than a perceived Europe centric focus it has with US sports supporters now.

    Of course again this will probably not happen too soon as UCI management and coporate support for the UCI teams , plus the media funding is what will allow it. Inclusion of the Tour of California, Tour Down Under and maybe the Tour of Langkawi will be a positive step in my view to widening the focus on all round cycling participation and reducing situations like LA's where he could ( for purely commercial reasons) concentrate on the TdeF and maximise the return from a limited US sports support mechanism behind cycling.

    Cycling thrugh history or necessity is certainly more ingrained into European ( and Asian-like China and India) where culture and every day life dicates high bicycle use.

    Culture and history has strong bearing on the perceptions of cycling as a profile activity, as a sport and as a participatory lifestyle choice or simple daily routine.

    ......and o3teamdisco, I hope this hasnt digressed too much!...good luck with the paper...may it produces outcomes you can be proud of.
     
  13. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

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    Interesting stuff. I must admit that, although I like to see the All Blacks win, I am more concerned that they played a good game. If they lose, but played well, and luck, the ref and / or the other team's abilities conspired against them, I am happy. If they win, but didn't deserve it, I am not happy.
     
  14. Tonto

    Tonto New Member

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    Soccer is the global game, so I don't get your point, unless you are referring to relative lack of success, thus far, with selling soccer in the US?

    Even if it isn't a huge spectator sport in the US at the highest level, it's a massive sport in schools. I think the US will be a major power in world football within 20 years. I know quite a few people involved at various levels of US football and what I hear from them is highly promising.
    The size of the population, the quality of the coaching facilities, the amount of money and effort being poured into promoting the game there are all in their favour. Also, the US is pretty much guaranteed qualifcation to the World Cup every time since Fifa allocated 3 berths to their qualifying region i.e. it will always be US, Mexico and one other, allowing the US the possibility of slipping up and still qualifying.
    Anyway, veering wildly off the original point here, but if and when the US really starts threatening the big powers in football, it will be very interesting to see.

    On the original point, another thing to compare between the US sports and elsewhere is the US obsession with statistics. US sports fans seem to have a bewildering array of statistics at their disposal. Sport elsewhere seems to be analysed in a more subjective way.
     
  15. fossyant

    fossyant New Member

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    Violent - with guys full of padding - you should try Rugby ! Similar game, no padding or helmets ! :rolleyes:

    Players paid very low wages compared to NFL tough ! :(
     
  16. lumpy

    lumpy New Member

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    That's just what I was thinking!
     
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