Thursday, 4 October 2012

Amazing Team Spirit Ryders High

If you didn't watch the golf last Sunday night, then please, please find a replay or highlights package of some description. In the sporting world, there's nothing quite like the drama produced by a stirring comeback against the odds. So, at the weekend, the culmination of a fascinating few days of gold (excuse the "typo") resulted in an entire continent uniting behind a team of twelve men showing a scarcely believable level of nerve, passion and spirit and claiming a stunning victory in the enemy's back yard.

Golf is one of the most individual sports there is, lacking even the competitive companionship produced by one-on-one clashes such as in tennis, snooker or boxing. There's no team element, no supporting your buddy and no reliance on someone else when you're struggling - it's just you, your caddy, your clubs and hours upon hours of concentration. 

The future's bright...
So you could be forgiven for imagining that the Ryder Cup would lack a real sense of spirit and togetherness, but instead it seems to inspire the very definition of a team sport, at least for 3 days every other year. A squad of footballers play and train together constantly, almost all year round. And yet there rarely, if ever, seems to be a unity that comes even close to the weekend scenes at Medinah. (Of course the best bit of a win is not the team spirit or indeed the victory itself, but the delightful bitterness of the losing team, icing on any sporting cake.)

This summer's major sporting event saw a sense of team shared by a whole nation. Of course this was greatly aided by Team GB's success but there's no doubt there was something different about how the entire country was behind every athlete representing these Isles. Even the usually lukewarm popularity of Andy Murray* was at boiling point when he was representing us all, rather than just himself. So is it a nationalistic fervour ingrained within us all that means we care that much more, or is it just because we're glory-hunters on an international scale?

But for a few months and different parental travel plans, I might have been Born in the USA (yes I love the Boss), but struggle to imagine how my banner could ever have been star-spangled. I feel thoroughly British, and evidently European enough to have been utterly supporting a German when it came to that final putt. Whatever, the reason, I'm certain that when its your country (or continent) involved, somehow it matters more.

* There is a strong chance that Andy Murray will win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, if he does, it must surely eclipse all previous ironic sporting awards.