I feel sorry for the Red Sox. Their catastrophic crash and burn is now infamously logged in baseball history forever. The Red Sox fan’s echoing cries were heard round the world, literally. It even made the local news in Botswana. Outside the U.S., the Red Sox now bear the brunt of many embarrassing jokes.
This is not the first time however, that an American sports team has miserably lost and exposed themselves to worldwide embarrassment. In fact, at this very moment, sports fans spanning the globe are avidly following the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The World Cup is the culminating competition for the top 20 qualifying rugby teams. It is the largest international sporting event after the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup with an estimated 4.2 billion television viewers (baseball’s 2010 World Series averaged 70 million viewers). The USA rugby team, (known as the Eagles) took a beating, with a notable loss to Australia 67 – 5. The Eagles collapse was scrutinized by rugby fans on every continent but Antarctica.
What is more important, and more embarrassing, is that most Americans had no idea that the one, two combination punch of the American rugby team loss and the American public captivation with the Red Sox calamity made the U.S. look like a bunch of boobs to the rest of the planet.
Consider that the 2011 baseball ‘World’ Series will be played in the domestic, contiguous U.S. by American teams, while the Rugby ‘World’ Cup is played in different countries around the world by teams representing over 80 nations. International media coverage of the Red Sox included their recent demise as well as their two previous World Series titles, which were only played by American teams in their American world. Media coverage in the U.S. of the Rugby World Cup and the U.S. rugby team’s performance (or lack thereof) was scant.
Also consider that the aggressive sport of rugby makes football look like child’s play. A highly athletic game, rugby requires the endurance and agility of a soccer player and the power and coordination of a football player. With absolutely no pads, the rugby players accept and deliver pain like a boxer. I went to a rugby match and the players were gargantuan. They ran around the field kicking and throwing the ball for 90 minutes (with one ten minute break) and blood was spurting out of their noses, mouths, elbows and knees. The match was positively gruesome and incredibly impressive. For international rugby fans, the recent U.S. rugby team loss was yet another example of why Americans should stick to football (and their pads).
One can hardly blame the U.S. rugby team for any negative press. It’s not as if they had a huge crowd of fans cheering them on. Can the Red Sox be reasonably faulted for causing international embarrassment? The Red Sox aren’t the only team that has suffered significant loss this season, they’re just one of the most well know teams outside the U.S. Foreign media reports on events in the U.S. such as the Red Sox and U.S. rugby team because there is public interest. Apparently there isn’t enough public interest in the U.S. to warrant media coverage of American athletes attending international sporting events.
The U.S. could have aggressively supported the team effectively using the Rugby World Cup as an international political tool. It wouldn’t be the first time a sporting event has been used to broker a political relationship. Instead American athletes are left to wander international playing fields alone. It should come as no surprise to anyone when the U.S. looks like a bunch of boobs.