Could the Ryder Cup offer a sporting chance for European unity?

Could the Ryder Cup offer a sporting chance for European unity?

Press quote (The Guardian)
Stephen Tindale
21 September 2014

But sport, said Stephen Tindale, associate fellow of the Centre for European Reform, "is respectable tribalism" – and tribalism can prove a powerful and effective motor. The kind of people who oppose further European integration often do so, Tindale argues, on the grounds that there is no European "polis", or body of citizens. "But in 1947 there was no Indian polis," he said.

"They didn't speak the same language, or even all speak English. Now India is far from perfect, but it has been a functioning democracy since 1947, and I would argue that the fact that a hugely popular cricket team was basically superimposed on this collection of states has been very important in that."

Golf, Tindale feels, probably does not enjoy the mass support, nor is it a good enough spectator sport, to do for Europe what cricket did for India. And football – despite the appeal of Team Europe vs Team Latin America – may be "simply too tribal". But a European rugby team, to finally challenge the very best of the southern hemisphere?

"The great thing about sport," Tindale said, "is that you put rationalism to one side. You make your choice: this is my team. And then you belong." So as Victor Buisson or Sergio García or Martin Kaymer approaches the 18th on Sunday: Allez la France! Viva, España! Vorwärts, Deutschland! For today at least, we are all Europeans.