Europe? Who were those golfers?



The cup
  • The cup
A couple of sidelights to the Ryder Cup that made watching its endless hours on TV even more savory were (1) the advertising, an endless parade of financial institutions insisting that their masters of the universe were the best around and would chase all our cares away.

And (2) the idea that one team was from "Europe."

It was nice to see the European team finally assert itself, "Europe" being a concept that has attained bogeyman status here in the U.S., thanks largely to conservative pundits who remind us that it's the place where countries blighted by workers' rights and guaranteed health care wallow in unemployment, debt, and something even more foul—the spiritual torpor of welfarism. "Europe" today is what America will be like tomorrow unless the right sort of men and women saddle up and clean out the territory.

Whatever Europe is, it's hardly an undifferentiated slab of soul-sucking fiscal and moral collapse. Well, you say, Europe is everywhere the coin of the realm is the euro, the infernal currency that has reduced once proud states to peonage. Except that seven of the 12 European Ryder Cup team members were from England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland—in other words, Great Britain—places where the queen and the pound reign.

Steve Busfield commented on this afterward in the Guardian, in a piece that began, "After two days of triumphalism came silence." (Triumphalism as in the incessant chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" as the Americans were breaking out to a 10-4 lead by Saturday afternoon.) Busfield labeled Ryder "a rare beast in that it brings together supporters of European nations, something that happens nowhere else." He conjectured, "This may be why the default European song has become 'Olé, olé, olé, olé.'" It's hardly a song, but at least everybody knows the words. And I'm reminded of the 1979 May Day rally in Madrid, the first one that was legal since the Spanish Civil War. And of how the massive throng in the city's biggest square ripped through the first verse of "The Internationale" and was led by reckless rally leaders into the second verse. If you want to take the wind out of a celebration in nothing flat, get everyone singing something no one knows the words of.

Busfield went on, "If we believed in stereotypes, golf-supporting Britons might not necessarily be the biggest supporters of the European Union, but here at Medinah the Union Jack-wearing Brit will also be sporting a European Union hat."

International amity was served, less because of who the opponents were than who the teammates were. Thank you, masters of the universe.

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