The American Ryder Cup Team is Playing for More than just the Cup

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2008

The American team will enter the 2008 Ryder Cup, which begins on Friday at Valhalla Golf Club, as the clear underdog. Half of the team is made up of Ryder Cup rookies and the other half are still reeling from a decade of defeat at the hands of the Europeans.

However, this year’s American team will have an advantage not seen by any Ryder Cup team in quite some time. This year’s American team will have an entire country in their corner; a country that is in desperate need of some uplifting news.

Many Americans feel as if they have been kicked to the curb over the past couple of years and particularly over the past few months.

The unemployment rate in America is at its highest level in years, and will undoubtedly continue to rise in the foreseeable future. Job growth in America growing is at its slowest rate since the Great Depression. The housing market has experienced and unprecedented collapse and tens of thousands of people continue to default on their mortgage loans each month.

Massive banks are going out of business and sparking fears that the American economy is on the brink of a catastrophic collapse not seen since the days of the Great Depression. Unless you are part of that top 1% of the American income bracket, you are probably feeling on edge and nervous that you are one increasingly likely lost job away from the poor house.  

Throughout history, sports have always played in role in helping people through difficult times. Sports have the ability to take our minds away from a difficult situation, if only for a few hours.

Sports also have the ability to lift the spirits of a city, a state and even a nation if you are lucky enough to be on the winning side.

This year's American Ryder Cup team is not only attempting to avoid an embarrassing decade of Ryder Cup defeat, but they are also carrying the hearts and minds of a tired, battered nation.

The American Ryder Cup team is certainly playing for a lot more than a little gold cup.  They have a unique opportunity to lift the spirits of a nation that is in its most difficult position in decades.

In recent years Americans have seen their sports leagues take on a far more international face, have suffered three straight Ryder Cup defeats, an early elimination from the World Baseball Classic and a battering in the gold medal count at the hands in China in the Olympics.  

Many Americans are sick and tired of athletic defeat and are particularly sick and tired of that general feeling of disappointment that comes with any defeat whether that be in the form of an athletic defeat, a lost job, a lost house or watching their investments and retirement accounts dry up.  

Americans are ready for and in desperate need of an uplifting story and the Ryder Cup presents a perfect stage for the feel-good story of the year. The American Ryder Cup team is indeed playing for a lot more than just a little gold cup this week. They are playing for a lot more than avoiding a decade of defeat and are playing for a lot more than regaining their dignity in the sport.

When the likely first pairing of native Kentuckians Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes step onto the first tee box early Friday morning, they will not only have the state of Kentucky on their shoulders, but they will also be carrying the hopes and spirits of a tired, battered nation.