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links for 2006-04-06

4 thoughts on “links for 2006-04-06”

  1. I was chatting with a buddy about Hines Ward’s reception in South Korea. The guy hasn’t been back in two decades and he plays a sport that the vast majority of Koreans don’t care about. So… how starved are they for sports heroes over there?

  2. It’s a fair question, Fontaine. I think one reason has to be that there’s a large population of Koreans who are the children of US servicemen, as Hines Ward is – in a country that’s otherwise extremely homogenous, Ward may be so popular because he gives an opportunity to have dialog on the topic of race. It’s also possible that his popularity has to do with admiration for anyone who is recognized on the American stage – certainly Korean baseball players who succeed in the US are lionized at home. Perhaps some form of that phenomenon?

    But yeah, I hear you. Kasey Keller is something of a demigod in Europe, but probably doesn’t even get recognized in his home town in the states. Why the inversion with American sports heroes abroad?

  3. “Why the inversion with American sports heroes abroad?”

    One word, I think: TV.

    While I think it is a stretch to say that Kasey Keller is a demigod in Europe (and I do think that he is pretty well known in his home town of Lacey, Washington, as well as neighboring Olympia), he certainly is much better known in Europe than he is in the States (of course, he has been playing professionally in Europe for the past 16 years — 1990 was the last time he played in the States, and that was for a minor league club!).

    If the sport isn’t on US TV, an athlete doesn’t get recognized in the States. (OK, Pele and David Beckham might, but this is because of their advertisements and celebrity status …. on US TV.)

    Just to take the case of Japan: How many Americans would identify the following US superstar athletes, whose exploits were not broadcast on US TV?:

    Baseball: Tuffy Rhodes (and before him, to a lesser extent, Warren Chromartie).

    Sumo wrestling: Chad Rowan (aka Akebono)

    ‘Wrestling’ (although his type of ‘wrestling’ isn’t really a sport): Bob Sapp

    A few American sports stars active abroad are pretty well known in the States, but here is some coverage of them on US TV, at least occasionally / sporadically: Witness Bode Miller (the World Cup circuit has only a few stops in the States) and pretty much all stars in track and field (who make their money in Europe).

  4. Sorry, One additional ‘US sports star abroad’ comment:

    Apolo Anton Ohno enjoys much greater fame (actually ‘infamy’) in Korea than he does in the States.

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