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September 21, 2004

Our Garcia, our Langer

One of the finest outcomes of this week's glorious European triumph in Detroit against the USA in the Ryder Cup has been a subtle – if very temporary shift – in the British attitude to Europeans.

Fine performances from a Spaniard, Irishmen, a Frenchman and a German have been taken to the British sporting heart: Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Thomas Levet and Bernhard Langer have each become 'one of us' or to put it another way – we have become patriotic Europeans. There is, after all, nothing like a common enemy (i.e. the US) to bring Europeans together and for once the UK can join the party.

It does make me wonder whether we couldn't engineer some more European teams so that us British could get used to this kind of thing. Of course it is merely an extension of that curiously English tendency to bemoan Scottish golfer Colin Montgomery and celebrate his British counterpart – you are only one of us so long as you're winning. A bit childish, but true, nevertheless.

Perhaps a more significant lesson for Europe, politically, is in the nature of the two teams playing in Detroit. The US team was no more than a collection of individuals with poor leadership - not unlike the countries of the EU. Individually they may seem like leaders in their fields, but collectively they punch beneath their weight (to borrow a boxing expression). The European team meanwhile were less lauded, almost certainly less individually talented, yet well led and able to work as a team, punching above their weight. By comparison with European states, the United (yet still individual) States of America are the embodiment of this.

So then, perhaps Europe's politicians could learn from their golfers. Bernhard Langer for president of the EU anyone?

Update: I have noticed, since posting this, David Aaronovich making a similar point: Suddenly, we like being European

September 21, 2004 in Observations, Politics, Sports | Permalink


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Interesting idea, and a good point well made. It got me pondering along similar lines: http://europhobia.blogspot.com/2004/09/sporting-unity.html

Posted by: Nosemonkey | Sep 21, 2004 1:55:25 PM