One thing is undeniable, we have the greatest athletes on the planet. From LeBron James to Peyton Manning to Alex Rodriguez, no other country can offer so many elite athletes. We dominate the Olympics (the only relevant inter-country sports competition) and we dominate football, baseball, basketball and even do pretty well in hockey and soccer given our general lack of interest in those sports.
Even obscure sports like cycling, we can dominate with simply sending one of our elite athletes like Armstrong. Golf was dominated by Tiger. Tennis by Agassi and Sampras. Our domination is so complete, that even though we send our 4th tier athletes to soccer’s World Cup while all other countries send their top athletes, we’re still somewhere in the top 15 out of 200 countries.
So what do you think accounts for us winning virtually everything there is to win in the sports world? Why is it that the NFL MVP and NBA MVP and MLB MVP is an American 90% of the time and why do most World Championships happen here?
There are cultural aspects as to why Japan doesn’t produce NFL players (as if the NFL is the be-all, come-all sports league that everyone aspires to :rolleyes: ) but if you re-read my post you’ll see that I said Population+Wealth. Not individually, but combined.
Same reason the US dominates science. If you live in India or the Netherlands, and you discover your talent and/or ambition is too big for the small local pool, you move to where the bigger pools are. More to learn, more worthy colleagues and competitors, more facilities. Somewhere along the way you’re likely to get naturalized.
For one thing, you’re talking largely about America-centric sports, and for another you’re underselling the number of international athletes who make it big in North American sports (Russian hockey players, Dominican baseball players, etc). I don’t know that your premise is supported. Americans dominate North American sports except for all the non-Americans in those sports, but we don’t produce that much in the way of soccer or cricket or ping pong or long distance running, or any number of other sports which are not as important to us.
You are a bit selective, in choosing the sports at which the USA succeeds.
American Football is really only played in America. Amazingly, Americans are best at it. :rolleyes:
Baseball is really only played in America and a small number of other countries. Same comment.
For a country of its population, the USA does very poorly in the only world-wide team sport played in every country of the world - what the rest of the world calls football. Small countries routinely beat the USA team.
The USA is crap at rugby, which is played worldwide. (As you know, American football is rugby for wimps who wear armour in case they might get a nasty bruise.)
The USA is crap at cricket, which has a huge following worldwide.
One could make a very strong argument that the USA is not the world leader in baseball anymore.
Either way, I’ll buy the population + wealth + diversity explanation, with wealth being the biggest part of it. I don’t think there’s another country that pays athletes what US professional teams do (Euro soccer may be close. And I know auto racing drivers can do very, very well in Europe, too).
OK, let’s talk about hockey (and of course I’m not talking about ice hockey here). When was the last time that the U.S. had a team in the finals of the men’s hockey or the women’s hockey at the Summer Olympics?
We have the greatest basketball players, (American) football players, and baseball players on the planet.
…in basketball, (American) football, and baseball, sure. There is absolutely no question that the United States is spectacularly dominant in those three sports; I’d be shocked if anyone would say differently. This is because those three sports are very popular in this country.
Mm. Not really. The US often - though not always - wins the “total medals” category at the Olympics, though the size of its delegation is a significant part of that. However, the US does not usually or even frequently win the “most gold medals” category in either winter or summer (tied for third behind Germany and Canada in 2010, second behind China in 2008, tied for second behind Germany in 2006, first (by a fair margin) in 2004, tied for third in 2002, first in 2000, and frankly I don’t care to do this any more. This is a pretty strong record - though again influenced by the size of the delegation the US sends and the fact that we tend to send competitors in the vast majority of events - but it’s hardly “dominating.” Russia and China, two large nations with large populations, have produced comparable results in the Summer Games, and Germany has generally outperformed the US every year in the Winter Games in recent years.
“Pretty well in soccer” is kind of a ridiculous statement. Other countries dominate soccer to the same extent that we dominate baseball; we are to the former as, let’s say, Japan is to the latter. In hockey, in the last ten Winter Games, the US has won a total of three medals (one gold, two silver); in the same period, we have been outperformed by the Soviet Union (three golds, one silver, one additional gold as the Unified Team in 1992, plus various medals for Russia subsequent to '92), Finland (five medals, though none of them gold), Canada (two gold, two silver), and Sweden (five medals, two gold and three bronze).
I don’t know much about cycling. But a glance at the winners list for the Tour de France shows that Lance Armstrong was indeed dominant (7 victories). However the last five winners have all been Spanish, and the pre-Armstrong years were mostly dominated by a man named Miguel Indurain, also Spanish.
So you are correct in saying that the US was briefly dominant in this sport thanks to a single transcendant athlete. However, the US has not been generally dominant - France has won the Tour 36 times, versus 10 for the US (7 of those by Armstrong).
Yes, US golfers tend to dominate the sport.
Right now, at this very moment, the highest ranked men’s singles tennis player is Mardy Fish, who is #11 (followed by Andy Roddick, #12). Three men from Spain are ahead of them, including #1 (Rafael Nadal). The last time a player from the US won any Grand Slam tournament was when Roddick won the US Open - in 2003. Nadal and Roger Federer have utterly dominated men’s tennis for nearly 10 years, and neither of them is from the US.
You have a strange definition of “domination.”
…other than Grand Slam tennis, the most gold medals in most Olympiads, anything at all to do with soccer, cricket, rugby, cycling in any case not involving Lance Armstrong, Formula 1 racing, and god knows what else, you mean, right?
Do you really think that the question of why three US leagues often (though not always) have an MVP from the US is one worth asking?
Most World Championships in what?
Look, it’s really very simple.
There are sports in which the US is intensely interested, and which the US has been playing for a long time, where other countries are less or not at all interested: basketball, American football, baseball. In these sports the US is extremely dominant.
There are sports in which the US is only marginally interested, and in which the US has less experience, in which other countries are much more interested and much more experienced: soccer, cricket, rugby. In these sports the US tends to be a marginal competitor (at best), while other nations dominate.
There are sports that are primarily individual sports: tennis, cycling. In those sports, the field is “dominated” by whatever country happens to produce the best individual athlete of the time, which is ultimately the luck of the draw. In these sports the US will dominate when it has such an individual (Armstrong, Sampras) while other countries will dominate when they do (Nadal, Federer, Indurain).