Whatever you say about Ryan, he is a naturally gifted writer, and his manages to raise several interesting lines of thought in the space of one single article.
Ryan clearly has a good World View of the true hierarchy of sporting events. Quite a few American journalists would rather eat Tofu than put the following on record;
The rest of the world takes all international competition very seriously. The World Cup is the biggest and most prestigious sporting event in the world.
No matter what argument is put across by anyone, he is completely right in saying that, nothing grips the world like the World Cup.
The World Cup is a different matter. I guarantee you that despite all the sour economic news that dominates the conversation in every corner of the globe, when that Cup competition gets underway next year in South Africa, those countries fortunate enough to have qualified will be fixated on their national football teams as long as they are alive. Meanwhile, competition for one of those precious 32 spots galvanizes the population, even now.You might get bombarded with never ending reports on T.O and college basketball, sure, and it all looks very glossy and important within the framework of ESPN and whatever, however nothing touches the sheer passion and drama of the World Cup, from qualifier to finals, there's zero comparison.
Now, one spot I think he 'missed' a little at, is with the below comment, suggesting the WBC tournament can't be taken seriously because there are several minnows involved;
Instead, we have the WBC, which has been padded with no-hopers such as China, Italy, and South Africa to come up with the nice round number of 16. That would be like the NCAA Tournament filling out the final three at-large spots with club teams. So the WBC cannot be taken seriously on that basis alone.
In response to that, do you think the Dominican will ever take the unfancied Netherlands for granted again?
One of the greatest aspects of International sport is the ability of an underdog to beat a supposedly vastly superior country. Filipe Alou’s arrogant post game conference remarks, where he suggested the Dominican should beat ‘that kind of team’ 9-0 will do nothing to dampen the spirit of the Dutch baseball fans, not to mention all of us European baseball fans, who took great delight on the ‘Oranjes’ shocking victory.
Without the WBC this would never ever have been possible.
You know what, I was annoyed for a few days, reading constant reports from the States that the WBC is at best boring and at worst essentially unimportant, but having watched it unfold, having thoroughly enjoyed the Netherlands wonderful victory over an arrogant, shabby looking Dominican team, give me the WBC any day over some tired, boring hacks inane comments on something he doesn’t understand.
At least Bob Ryan made a pretty good attempt to understand why the tournament is viewed in such a way in the States.