Financial Times columnist Matthew Engel ruminates on American elitism at the Olympics and the thrill other nations get from knocking American athletes off the pedestal. A fair point – after all, who outside of Boston wasn't praying to see the Patriots defeated last year, the smug smile wiped off Tom Brady's dimpled face? What baseball fan doesn't
secretly openly enjoy watching the Yankees' $220 million train wreck?
Then Engel criticizes the way that we just don't get team sports and international competition, contrasting our must-win attitude with the casual, it's-all-for-fun-and-the-joy-of-competing attitude of our European cousins:
My own theory is that the US has never quite grasped the give-and-take character of world sport. Countries devoted to soccer, cricket and rugby play regular international fixtures; they win some and lose some, and learn to live with that…Neither (American) athletes nor spectators are well-prepared for the Olympics.
Right. I will keep that in mind the next time I am watching the World Cup, which is played for fun and in which the fans are not particularly concerned about winning.