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‘World’ Champions

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 06:11

 

Every year, we crown the champion of each of the big three American sports. After long regular seasons and exhilarating postseasons, the NBA Finals, Super Bowl and World Series all conclude with a winner that is theoretically the best team of the year in their respective sport. Each winner is then named the “World Champion.” The San Francisco Giants, New York Giants and Miami Heat are all World Champions, having won their respective sport’s championship.

As a fan of the San Francisco Giants, I love the ring to “your World Champion San Francisco Giants.” But it is totally unfair, obnoxious and arrogant to call American sporting champions “World Champions.” Last time I checked, San Francisco beat Detroit, New York beat New England and Miami beat Oklahoma City in all of their championship games. None of those cities are outside the United States, so why are we calling them World Champions? 

Let’s start with football.  Believe it or not, there are actually leagues where American football is played in countries outside the U.S., including Brazil, Ireland and Poland. Obviously, the NFL is better known than any of those leagues, and we are the only country in which American football is such a big part of our culture. 

I acknowledge that any team in the NFL would probably be huge favorites against teams from any other leagues. 

But until our Super Bowl champion plays a game against non-American teams like the Belfast Trojans, champions of the Shamrock Bowl of the IAFL, can we really say the New York Giants are “World” Champions? 

It’s assumed that the best players play in our league, but my point is, what gives us the right to call ourselves World Champions? The winners of Australian rules football, which is totally different from American football, don’t call themselves World Champions, yet they also have the best players of their sport in the league. 

In the world of soccer, it is somewhat assumed that the sport’s best athletes play club soccer in Europe. But after a club wins the Union of European Football Associations Champions League, they do not call themselves World Champions unless they go on and win the FIFA Club World Cup, played between the champions of all six continental confederations. Is the explanation for giving ourselves the World Champion title simply that we, American fans in the U.S., are more arrogant and obnoxious than anyone else?

Meanwhile, baseball and basketball are also guilty of obnoxiously calling their postseason winners World Champions. Basketball is known to have huge followings in China and many European countries. Many NBA All-Stars were not born in the U.S. and started playing basketball in their home countries. And, in the 2004 Olympics, the U.S. basketball team lost to Argentina, further proving that there are other skilled and capable international players outside the United States.  

As for baseball, Japan has also had star players of its own, and many Japanese players have become stars in MLB. So if there are baseball and basketball teams that could potentially be just as good as American teams, how can we call ourselves World Champions without playing teams outside this country? And don’t tell me an MLB team deserves to be called World Champion if it beats the Toronto Blue Jays.  

The U.S. national basketball team deserves to be called World Champions after winning the 2012 Olympic gold medal because they faced international competition. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat are technically World Champions, but all they have done in reality is become NBA champions. It’s claiming a title when you haven’t done anything to earn it that is obnoxious and cocky. In the sports where the competition is strictly American, it is rude to immediately lay claim to the title of “World Champions.”

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Brian Tan is a sophomore who is majoring in economics and Chinese. He can be reached at Brian.Tan@tufts.edu.

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