Column: The U.S. doesn’t have to be the best at everything

By Luke McConnell

Oklahoma Daily, U. Oklahoma via UWIRE

For the longest time, the U.S. has been the best in a wide array of things — athletics, politics, military, you name it.

But now times are changing. The US of A is no longer the sole great superpower in the world, and to be honest, many don’t even consider America to be No. 1 anymore.

It didn’t help the public’s sentiment when the heavily-favored U.S. soccer team lost the World Cup final to Japan in penalty kicks on Sunday.

There has been growing discontentment about how America’s dominance in professional sports, particularly golf and tennis, is waning.

On the men’s side, tennis is controlled by the big four of Rafael Nadal (Spain), Roger Federer (Switzerland), Novak Djokovic (Serbia) and Andy Murray (UK). The top U.S. player, Mardy Fish, checks in at No. 8 with Andy Roddick trailing at No. 10.

It has been since 2003 that a U.S. player won a Grand Slam tournament.

Golf has been nothing short of a crapshoot, but in a very positive way. The past 11 majors have seen 11 different winners. All of these young players are great for golf. However, the highest-ranked U.S. player is Steve Stricker at No. 5, and the U.S. has only won four of the past 14 major championships.

Women’s golf is a little brighter. Cristie Kerr stands at No. 2 in the world, but the rest of the top 10 is pretty much dominated by those of Asian descent (six to be exact).

The women’s tennis rankings are a disaster zone for the U.S. — the highest-ranked American player is No. 31. That’s never a good thing.

Thank goodness for the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, who have been the only U.S. players to win a Grand Slam since Jennifer Capriati at the Australian Open in 2002.

From some people’s reactions to all of this, you would think someone had planned to cancel Christmas.

Two things here.

One, it’s really not that bad. Sure, there isn’t an American ranked No. 1 in any of these sports, but when they’re competing against the rest of the world, Americans in the top 10 are pretty special.

Two, since when does the U.S. have to have the best player in every sport or be the best at everything it does?

Golf, tennis and soccer aren’t even American sports. The modern game of golf originated in Scotland, and tennis originally began in France, but the modern game ripened in Great Britain.

In soccer, the U.S. struggles and just can’t seem to get over the hump to be an elite team on the global stage.

So the country is bad at something. Whoop-de-doo.

I’ll bet the same people who want the U.S. to be the best at everything are the same who think there is no other country that comes close to the U.S. in economic power or overall authority.

If you want to be the best, you have to play the best and beat them.

U.S. athletes just aren’t doing a whole lot of that right now.

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