I have just watched 3 days of golf, a game I love completely. It was the Ryder Cup. An event pitting a team of players from the USA, against a team made up of players from the continent of Europe. It is played every other year, at alternating sites (Europe and US). This year the USA hosted the event outside of Chicago IL at Medinah. The Europeans retained the Ryder Cup coming from a 10 – 6 deficit (after day 2) to defeat the Americans 14.5 to 13.5 in a most dramatic fashion.
Because the match was being played in the USA, USA’s fans clearly outnumbered the European fans at least 50 to 1, maybe as much as 100 to 1, but that didn’t matter. The fans for the European Team were as loud for their boys as the US fans were loud for ours. But when either an American or European was making a shot, the entire crowd was quiet, the fans were showing their respect, their sportsmanship, their national pride. If the shot was a good shot, it was immediately recognized for it, if the shot was bad, there was a collective sigh from the crowd, not a portion of the crowd, but the crowd. Watching and listening to the event it was never ugly. Of course TV filtered 99.9 percent of anything that might have been construed as ugly, and kept it off the air and out of sight, which is a good thing for a fan.
The attitude displayed by the fans of both USA and European seem to reflect the attitude of the players. Throughout the 3 day match the players were polite to each other, constantly showing an extremely high level of respect, there was no goating or baiting, it truly looked like a match among friends. Of course there was the chest thumping, the high fives, the wild looks of happiness when winning an important hole, or sinking an impossible putt. The exuberation shown by the players seemed natural in the setting. Yet again the exuberation didn’t seem pointed at an opponent, but for the act, for the shot, for the outcome. The exuberance was an act of sportsmanship.
It was truly wonderful to watch the event. At times it appeared the USA Team was going to run away with the victory. But on Sunday in the early matches you saw the change, you saw that Europe was serious about making a charge. And as the Europeans took point after point, making shot after shot, you could feel it in your bones. But the sportsmanship was still there. While emotions were not in check, the respect was still present.
Even as the Americans realized they were taking part in an historical event, very similar to a charge they had made years ago to seize a victory from the Europeans, the sportsmanship was still there. The crowd supporting the USA were chatting U-S-A U-S-A, the Europeans had their own chat, just as loud just as strong. But the tenor in the chats was like the respect the players where showing each other, deep and resounding. The national pride of both the USA and Europe was showing thru it all.
It was gut checking event to watch, it really had you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire 3 days. Being old school I truly enjoyed it. Yet more importantly to me was seeing sportsmanship at such a high and constant level, and to witness the national pride of both the players and the fans.
As always your comments are encouraged and welcomed.