We all learned a few things from the latest installment of the IFAF World Cup. First and foremost, there is a massive divide between the football-dominant countries (i.e. the United States, Canada and Japan, and to a lesser extent Germany and Mexico) and everyone else. If American football is ever to become a world sport, this divide must be closed considerably. Consider that the team the United States sent to Japan to compete would probably not be able to win any Division I-A conference, and in the big six conferences likely would finish in the bottom half, and the point becomes clearer: the standard of football in the world has a long way to go to catch up with the United States.
USA football made a sage decision to limit its search to just recent NCAA players without NFL contracts. The double-overtime thriller against Japan in the final was the best thing that could have happened in this tournament. Had the United States sent a stronger team, like say the Southern California Trojans, then the competition would have been a joke. Consider what the Trojans do to most legitimate Division I-A competition, and you will begin to comprehend what a terrible idea that would have been. Then consider what the Indianapolis Colts would do to the Trojans, and again you will see how far the world still must come to compete with top-flight American football teams.
None of this should be shocking to even a casual observer of this competition, however. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will the international scene in American football. And it doesn't need to be built in a day. However, I believe yesterday will prove to be a cornerstone, one that will provide a solid foundation for the growth of this sport in the years to come.
So for those of you who lamented that the United States didn't send the Colts or the New York Giants, ask yourselves this: would you have any interest in watching America play soccer if we were facing off against a Brazil team so far advanced in talent that we were guaranteed to lose by at least six goals? Even those who don't have any interest whatsoever in soccer should be able to admit that if forced to watch the USA play, they'd rather see a contest where we have a chance of victory. And that was the key to the selection of the 2007 Team USA roster. USA football hit the nail right on the head, because they accomplished two important goals: (1) put out a team that will play competitive games against the strongest football countries outside the United States and (2) win the World Cup.