Perhaps no other country on the planet has produced a greater assemblage of athletes in their nation’s history than these United States of America. Pretty impressive when you consider the rest of the world enjoyed centuries of a head start. Our progeny has been so dominant in the world of sports, that we had to invent our own games to play amongst ourselves. Such is life when you’re number one in the world in the BAI (Bad Ass Index).
However, over the last several years, us patriots have seen our athletic stronghold weaken considerably in our bread-and-butter sports like basketball, baseball, and rock-paper-scissors (hell, up until this year we weren’t even the best at competitive eating, although our ‘non’-competitve eating title still looks pretty safe). The latest trinket of evidence? In last week’s Pan-Am Games in Brazil, the United States men’s basketball team finished in a paltry 5th place. The pan-am team was far from “dreamy”, with a roster comprised of a bunch of all-conference guys, most notably Drew Nietzel, Roy Hibbert, D.J. White, and Wayne Ellington. Not exactly a juggernaut, but you’d like to think they could dig deep enough and not lose to the likes of Uraguay and Panama. But this is but a mere tick on the ear of a much bigger problem. The once fabled ‘Dream Team’ hasn’t won anything since the 2000 Olympics, and are sliding further down the podium each time out. The NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs boast a Frechie PG and an Argentine wing to compliment thier Carribbean big man (although he plays for us, since we own the Virgin Islands…because we’re badass).
Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms with a diverse NBA, and if you thought the USA was going to win every international game by 20+ for the rest of eternity, well, you probably own a pair of these and think Toby Keith is the new Waylon Jennings. Many of the reasons for the leveled playing fields among longtime yankee-centric sports are due to political and economic enhancements (suggested reading: “The World is Flat”). But come on, we’re now losing to countries that manufacture the Nikes we wear. Now, I’m no Buddhist, but I believe they call that caramel.
Is basketball in our country really this bad, or is it a combination of not giving an ‘F’ and big booty Brazilian girls into the wee hours? We all know that the luster of a gold medal is slightly less significant than that of a gold plated toilet seat to many NBA allstars; and we know that compared to the rest of the field, the US squads barely get to practice together. I’m still just finding it hard to believe that we’ve fallen so far, so fast.
To complete the circle, the USA recently defeated, among others Brazil, en-route to a quarterfinal showing in the under-20 soccer playoffs, and of course there’s the continued media fellatio of David Beckham’s arrival to the MLS. Then, there’s Stephon Marbury’s latest proclamation that he’ll play in Italy when his NBA contract expires in 2 years.
What in the world is going on here?