Monday, July 16, 2007

World Cup '07: The Aftermath

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.


Aaron said...

I agree that US Football gauged the right amount of talent to take to this event. The rest of the world teams are so far behind the US and Japan is far ahead of all the other world teams. Its going to be a long climb up to any kind of parody.

Anonymous said...

Your assertion that the team that was sent would be in the bottom half of the big D1 conferences is generous.

An all-star team of D3 players probably doesn't have the talent of a good D2 team, much less D1. I played D3 football, and I know that there were a considerable number of guys out there who really had no business playing after high school. Some of the guys were really good (I went to UW-Whitewater, 2-time national runner-up) but generally if you're paying your own way instead of getting a scholarship there is a reason for that.

D3 guys' skills and technique is right there with other elite athletes, but for the most part guys are 5-10% smaller and about .2 slower than their counterparts at the "Bowl Subdivision" level of play.

I agree that it would not be sporting to send the AFC Pro Bowl team over there and win 200-0 however. What I don't want to see is the US lose this tournament by not taking it seriously a la basketball. The articles I read were mainly quotes of how close the Japanese squad was to winning over the great American team. There was no mention of the fact that these guys are good players, but are nowhere near the American elite. That's scary and next time this tournament rolls around we better up the level of players or at least give them longer to come together.

CFL said...

Guys, I'm a football fan from Canada and i find this discussion very interesting, especially the info on the size and speed dif between THE DIV'S. I had to look up the schools who play DIV 1 AND 11 TO HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, AND was surprised to find out Walter Payton played DIV 11. iS THERE SUPPOSED TO BE A BIG difference between the two?

We do have some good COLLEGE Teams up here, ( NOT DIV 1 ) and many of out players are being recruited to the NFL AND TO AMERICAN COLLEGES, BUT WHERE DID Japan come from --surprised me....KIND OF LIKE GERMANY'S EMERGENCE WITH HOCKEY