jamesn Wrote: Netherlands is to skating as Australia is to swimming: Not a big population compared to other nations but they dominate.
Ahhh modern history and stats. It's time to be parochial as an Aussie. In long past times Australia was great at individual events in swimming particularly the stroke we call freestyle. Australia was so dominant that it was commonly known as the 'Australian crawl'. Let's put some facts to the stats.
Generally accepted is that skill levels increase where there is significant competition. Soccer in the UK and Europe and of course South America are good examples. Soccer is the dominant sport, populations are large. Kids are born and land on a soccer ball not a midwife's hands.
The USA has a population around 317 million (wiki 15 Feb 2014). Australia has a population around 23.4 million (projected by the Australian Bureau of Census and Statistics). Now add quite a few aliens in the USA from Mexico. the USAs population is 13.54 times larger than Australia. Jamesn is correct in the atrocious state of Australia swimming, particularly men's swimming at the 2012 Olympics. Significant government funded post mortems indicated a Stilnox party attitude with less than dedicated training and even worse a disastrous team environment, individuals over teams was the mantra.
You need to take into account the general problem in Australia is that while we like our sporting stars we tend to want to knock over the tall poppies who get to the top. Most of Australia's top sports people simply cannot live in the spotlight of Australian media. I thought that would have changed when we gave the USA their new star citizen, Rupert Murdoch of News infamy.
Further, apart from endorsements, there is no money in Australian Olympic sports. There are scholarships to institutes of sport but not many university sports scholarships. In baseball and particularly basketball our top performers head to the USA for colleges. The sports institute scholarships are only slightly better than social security of the unemployed. In Australia you are far better chasing glory in Rugby (two codes), Australian football, cricket or soccer, heck even surfing.
What we excel at is being the underdog. Against all odds we somehow succeed - I confess - at times. The Americas sailing cup was an example in 1983. Our primary sporting mission in life is to beat the UK/England. If you read our national anthem you'll get a glimpse of our relationship around 1900. As wonderful as it is to beat England it is pure nirvana to beat the USA at anything. Despite throwing money at athletes and wonderful training facilities the USA are beatable. Sure I'll be long gone before Australia beats the USA at baseball and maybe a little earlier at basketball but occasional wins last us a long time.
Forum members this was meant tongue in cheek. I've got a cousin (USA born citizen) in LA who's probably more Aussie than I. We aren't outwardly nationalistic, we can show patriotism but it makes a lot of us uncomfortable - hence we tend to look at 'victories' more in the sense of individuals rather than team results.
Keep posting guys, I'm loving this site.