Thursday, May 18, 2006

We Are The World


I was reading an article recently that referred to Barry Bonds as the most famous athlete in the world. Now clearly that's a laughable statement and I wish I could remember where I read it because I would be thrilled to give the author full credit. That statement is as ridiculous as the oft repeated stat that the Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event in the world. Why do American reporters feel the need to make global claims about sporting events and people that generate little interest in the rest of the world? The Superbowl is viewed by about 90 million people here in America and about 10 to 20 million in the rest of the world. Barry Bonds isn't even the most famous athlete in America much less the world. He may be the most infamous, but I digress.

The World Cup is almost upon us and it truly is a global event. It is Soccer that is the world game. Not Baseball or Football or Basketball. While the American made sports are played in many parts of the world, Soccer is played in every part of the world. The viewing audience for the World Cup final will top one billion. That's billion with a B. The viewing audience for the entire World Cup will reach into the multiple Billions.

It's not a big deal that Soccer isn't a big time sport in America. After all it wasn't started here. We Americans are nothing if not fans of us. So we don't have to bow down at the alter of the World Cup just because the rest of the world is. Yet we must recognize that the majority of the world doesn't care that the Pittsburgh Steelers won their record tying fifth Super Bowl in January. The simply don't care that Barry Bonds took steroids. And that's okay. America can care enough for the rest of the world. So next time you read something about an American athlete or sport being the world's favorite or most watched you'll know better (the only American who could actually make that claim would be Muhammad Ali).

So this summer when our attention is turned to baseball and NFL training camps and who is dating Paris Hilton, the rest of the world will be focused on Germany (which
is a good thing, because you never know what those Germans are up to). The World Cup is the most watched event in the world, but you just wouldn't know it in America.

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