When the United States speedskating team blamed its failure to medal in this year’s games on its suits, the Netherlands’ coach couldn’t help but laugh at the excuse. Instead, Jillert Anema, who led the Dutch to 21 medals in the speedskating this year alone, pointed to Americans’ love for football as the culprit for the country’s lack of success internationally.
“You have a lot of attention on a foolish sport like American football and you waste a lot of athletic talent in a sport that is meant to kill each other, to injure each other — nobody in the world is competing [with] you in that field,” he told CNBC on Thursday. “You’re so narrow-minded, and then you want to compete against the world while you waste a lot of good talent on a sport that sucks.”
Anema said that Americans and their athletes wrongly assume that they are better than their international opponents, which is why they end up surprised and disappointed whenever they fall short, such as with speedskating or soccer. “Every four years, you come to a Olympic stadium, and you fight the rest of the world, then you know your place,” he explained.
“When you are not anymore interested in being the best of the world, stay in your country, do your own sport, don’t compete with the rest of the world,” Anema continued.
Until the U.S. devotes more training and attention to sports that other countries compete in, unlike football, it will continue to lose ground to its Olympic opponents, he said. He used basketball as an example of where the U.S. has remained successful, even as the rest of the world becomes more competitive.
Despite his trashing of the sport, Anema did have a couple of nice comments about football, mostly surrounding the Super Bowl. Not only was he happy to see the Seattle Seahawks take the championship, but he likes the commercials. “There’s a lot of humor involved,” he laughed.
While somewhat playfully delivered, Anema’s assessment of Americans is belied by their largely successful Olympic games thus far. As of press time, the U.S. led all nations in the medal standings with 25, compared to the Netherlands’ 22. In gold medals, Americans were tied for second with eight, two more than the Dutch.