Man, I dig nationality when it comes to the America's Cup. When I first became aware of the America's Cup back in 1987 national pride dominated those of us in America who were rooting for Dennis Conner to bring the Cup back home from Australia. DC's boat was even named "Stars and Stripes" for God's sake. And when he successfully won he went on a celebration tour around America starting with a ticker tape parade in New York City. As an 11 year old kid at that time national pride is what hooked me on the America's Cup and the same thing happened a year later during the Seoul Olympics when American athletes like Matt Biondi and Carl Lewis opened my eyes to the Olympics for the first time and made me proud to be an American. Sure growing up in Annapolis I spent a lot of time on my Step Father's sail boats so it stands to reason I should be a fan of the Cup right? Not necessarily.
When it comes to nationality in the America's Cup I've compared it to the Olympics many times in the past while debating in America's Cup Anarchy (ACA). Every four years TV ratings in the US go through the roof for such sports as Men's/Women's Swimming, Women's Gymnastics, Men's/Women's Figure Skating, Alpine Skiing events, etc... Sports that no one not intimately involved in said sports give a rats ass about the 3 1/2 years between Olympics. Nationality is the reason why these sports matter every 4 years, the only reason. Hell, just the other day one of the biggest beneficiaries of Nationalism in regards to the Olympics, Michael Phelps, was on TV for an hour getting ready to, and actually racing, a computer generated great white shark to see which was faster of a 100m course. If it wasn't the nationalistic pull of the Olympics no one would of given two shits who Michael Phelps was never mind wasting an hour waiting for him to race a fake shark. Another good example of nationalism making certain sports popular look at Women's Soccer. Women like Mia Hamm and the shirtless Brandi Chastain rocketed to stardom on the back of the American flag. At one point they thought they were the reason for their success, not USA on their chest, so they started a professional Women's Soccer league. It lasted three years and lost approximately 100 million before it folded. Why? People wanted to see the USA Women's Soccer team not the Bay Area CyberRays or the Washington Freedom.
The America's Cup falls in the same category as Swimming and Women's Soccer in my opinion. Embrace nationalism and people will pay attention. Will the Cup ever be on the level of the Olympics? Doubtful, but nationalism could generate enough interest to successfully fund teams from many different nations and secure the future viability of the Cup for years to come. But when I say embrace nationalism in regards to the Cup I don't mean half assed measures like what Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts tried to pull for AC34 and AC35. Where they slapped TEAM USA on every part of their boats and gear yet had the entire sailing team jabbering on with an Aussie twang. American's might be largely ignorant when it comes to sail boat racing, but they know when someone is trying to bullshit them when they see a boat with TEAM USA on it but the guy behind the wheel sounds like Crocodile DunDee's kid.
Now with Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) the new defenders of the Cup there is talk of a true nationality rule. Nothing specific has been announced but there is talk of anywhere from 50% to 80% of the sailing team must be from the nation of the yacht club (challenger) they represent. I would much rather 60% to 80% for this cycle of the Cup but 50% is better than nothing, IMO. After the debacle that was AC35 (American Defender not defending in America) a nationality rule is crucial for the much needed reset of the Cup. Especially when it comes to America's involvement in the Cup. Not since AC31 back in 2003 has there been more than one American team competing for the Cup. Since 2003 Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing team has been the sole American, in name only, team. Between 2007 and now Ellison's Oracle Team has went from being ashamed to fly the American flag over their team base in Valencia, Spain to riding off to Bermuda to defend the Cup because cities like San Francisco wouldn't pony up money and property to Uncle Larry Ellison.
But now us American fans of the Cup may be done with Larry Ellison supposedly representing America in the Cup. With Ellison's sworn enemy in Grant Dalton part of the organization effort, and reportedly up to three American teams not affiliated with Ellsion expressing interest in challenging for the Cup, there is hope that at least one true American challenger will be on the water in New Zealand when AC36 kicks off. And with American sailors like Bora Gulari saying that they only have interest being part of the Cup if its with a true American challenge (http://sailinganarchy.com/2017/07/24/thats-a-wrap-5/) it says to me nationality is not dead when it comes to the Cup. At least I hope not...
Whats on my IPad song of the day: