Soccer, Formula One and Golf shine in the NFL's shadow

Chances are if you were watching sports this weekend it was either the NFL or one of the major college football match-ups, like number 2 LSU versus number 9 Virginia Tech, for example. But, if football is all that cannibalized your sports viewing this weekend, you missed out on some really great, non-pigskin related, sporting events.

First up, the USA soccer team got their lunch handed to them by the Brazilian National Team, which is led by all-world stars Ronaldinho, Kaka and Robinho, among others. Team USA lost 4-2 in the friendly, billed interestingly enough as the “Clash of the Champions”. How does that work if only one of the teams has ever won any “championship" of note? But, we digress.

The Brazil game proved yet again, that Team USA and soccer as a sport in America has a long, long way to go. You probably know by now that soccer is the most popular youth sport in the US. But, unfortunately, once these soccer-playing kids hit puberty and eventually high-school, the most athletic of the bunch go into other sports, namely baseball and football. Until that trend changes, and until some of the strongest and fastest athletes in the US make soccer their sport of choice, the US will continue to lag behind on the world scene.

The king of the soccer world, Ronaldinho however, was only gracious in the win saying, “They are on the right path, and I believe in the future, it's a country that's going to have soccer with a very high level.”

Classy comments from a classy player.

Speaking of class, or lack thereof

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the Italian Grand Prix ran this weekend. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso put some distance between themselves and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa by finishing a respective 1-2 in the race at Monza – with Alonso finishing first and pulling within 5 points of Hamilton in the driver’s championship standings. With only four more races to go, Ferrari will need pull together a string of consecutive podium finishes, and hope that the McLaren duo falters, if they expect to have any chance of even sniffing the driver’s or constructor’s championships this season.

For the sake of “good guys” everywhere, let’s hope the Ferrari teammates are able to do just that. Because all the McLaren guys ever do is bicker among each other and with their team. Apparently, Alonso hasn’t heard that there is no “I” in TEAM. Following the race, Alonso made it very clear that he could care less about the constructor’s cup, as long as he’s able to catch Hamilton for the driver’s championship. At the same time he hinted at the issues that team McLaren has faced this year, including Alonso’s very public tiff with Hamilton.

"We are extremely lucky to have such a fast car and it means a lot to become world champion,” Alonso said after the race. “But, at least for me, it is not special if around the team there are problems. In the end it is good to be the drivers' world champion, but the constructors', from a driver's point of view, is not really a big factor."

Team McLaren must love hearing that from their star driver.

Jordan, Ali, Ruth…Woods?

This just in: Tiger Woods is really good! We’ve played golf from time to time, and generally hack our way around the course just like every other weekend golfer. So, we know how much skill and mental toughness it takes to be as consistently great as Tiger Woods has been over his 11-year career. Coming into Sunday, Woods found himself 1 shot down and very much in the thick of the competition in the third leg of the new FedEx Cup playoffs. By the end of the day Woods had shot an unbelievable low round of 63 and had blasted the competition on the way to his 60th career win (the youngest golfer ever, by far, to achieve that feat).

“I've exceeded my expectations and it's been a lot of fun to enjoy that whole road, that whole process to get to 60,” said Woods looking back. “It's been a lot of work, there has been some changes along the way, but I think that's all been great.”

Mark it down, Tiger Woods will not only go down as the greatest golfer of all time, but once he hangs up the clubs he will generally be regarded as one of the top 3 or 4 athletes ever, in any sport. And we’re not just talking about his skill on the course. Woods has had a huge social impact as well, in popularizing the sport outside of its traditional, sometimes non-inclusive boundaries, and getting new players excited about the game – us included. If they build a Mount Rushmore of sports 100 years from now, Woods should find himself on it joining the likes of Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan.

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