OT: Dutch Speed Skating Coach Advice to US: Stop Wasting Talent "in a sport that sucks"

Submitted by UMgradMSUdad on February 21st, 2014 at 7:48 PM

Coach Jillert Anema is talking about football, and he does have a point.  If the US dropped football and had everyone instead focus on speed skating, I'm sure the US would be better at it than it is now.  I don't think it's a stretch to think that someone like Denard Robinson, if he were a speed skater from childhood, would be quite good at that sport.  .  

"You have a lot of attention on a foolish sport like American football and you waste a lot of talent, athletic talent, on a sport that is meant to kill each other, to injure each other. ... You're so narrow-minded, and then you want to compete against the world [in other sports] when you waste a lot of time, good talent on a sport that sucks," he said.


OTOH, I doubt football linemen would have much success as speed skaters, and of course  there's the whole thing about his claim that the most popular game in the US sucks. To each his own I suppose.



February 21st, 2014 at 7:52 PM ^

Why should anyone in America care about speed skating? We like football, therefore we are good at it

Cocky words from a guy talking about speed skating who probably hasn't ever watched an american football game. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame, now go back into anonymity where speed skating coaches belong

snarling wolverine

February 21st, 2014 at 8:28 PM ^

It's actually sort of an interesting comparison.  Speed skating is huge in the Netherlands, but outsiders can't understand why.   Football is huge here, but people in other countries (other than Canada) can't understand why.  The big difference is that speed skating gives you the chance to win a crapload of Olympic medals while you can't do that in football - which I guess is his point.  





February 21st, 2014 at 10:38 PM ^

... kettle black and all.  Americans are the same exact way... case and point "arrogant statement coming from a coach of speed skating". 

Why can't we just accept it as a funny quote by a very successful coach of athletes who just dominated a discipline like few before in the olympics.   You shouldn't offend so easily.



February 22nd, 2014 at 12:06 AM ^

I suppose this is the European-hating-America straw that broke the camel's back. I get that he may have been joking, but I grow tired of the constant quotes, memes, etc on the internet about how much more awesome Europe is at everything than the US. Sure, I'm sure they do a lot of stuff quite well but the incessant underlying arrogance drives me nuts. Its like open season on just hating on everything we do that's slightly different.

We like football so we will play football and be good at it. You like to skate in circles so you will do that and be good at it. I don't see anyone lamenting all of the Filipino athletes wasting their time on Jai alai instead of speed skating.


February 21st, 2014 at 10:14 PM ^

If I were to say to you, you could spend your entire youth on a sport that after, probably, 20+ years you finally win an Olympic medal in or you do the same thing, get a free college education and then a few million dollars; which would you choose?

There's a reason that American football is a billion dollar industry and speed skating is not.


February 21st, 2014 at 11:56 PM ^

His comments are silly.  That said, we also are far larger than most every other country (not all)--20 x more populous than the Netherlands--and spend more than everyone else.  One could suggest that the U.S. playing  the Netherlands in any sport would be like Michigan playing Albion in football.  We should do alright every Olympics.


February 22nd, 2014 at 11:31 PM ^

If we are 20x more populated than the Nerthlands as you say...I can think of at least 30 sports that pull athletes in this country before speed skating. Now lets say speed skating if 5th in the Netherlands.
When you take out our top 20, then were apples to apples. Thus it would then be equivalent to the 10th place US athlete going against the 5th place Dutch athlete. Or the 10th place B1G team versus the 5th place PAC12 team. Sure we'll win a few, but theyll be favored nearly 2 to 1.

Man, I smoked a lot of banana peels tonight...


February 21st, 2014 at 7:57 PM ^

Yes because football, when compared to speed skating, is the sport that sucks...

Besides, does he know 'Murica has won more medals than any other country in the summer and winter Olympic Games recently?

Blue in Yarmouth

February 22nd, 2014 at 5:53 AM ^

Aside from the part about "football sucks and no one cares about it" he's right IMHO. I was talking to my brother about it the other day as well and our country (Canada) is in the same boat (only a smaller one than yours).

Both of our countries spread ourselves too thin where sport is concerned. We try and play everything and end up pretty good at most, but the best at very few (in our case, you guys wuold be considered best at more than us). 

When you look at the European countries they specialize in winter sports and in most countires they specialize at only one or two fo them (and soccer usually). They have fewer people for the most part, but they all play these sports and train for these sports on a continual basis. 

Look at USA and Canada and we play: football, baseball, hockey, soccer, swimming, lacrosse, rugby, basketball, volleyball, golf, bowling, track events, water polo, skiing, snowboarding, bob sleigh...I mean, honestly the list goes on and on. When you look at european countries they take a few of these and "specialize" in those by putting all of their resources in them. I think it's a testiment to both of our countries (obviously yours to a larger extent) that we are able to complete (and win in many cases) on an olympic level in so many events.

So what he says is pretty accurate. If you didn't play football in the USA (or we didn't play hockey in Canada) we could probably be better in speed skating. In my opinion though, I'm pretty happy with the medals we have won and even happier that hockey (for us) and football (for you) are priorities in our awesome countries because I would rather watch both of those over any other olympic sport anyday.


February 22nd, 2014 at 8:45 AM ^

I think that is actually a strength of Canada and the USA . . . we do it all.  And are very good at most of it.

Plus, it's not like we are just average in everything.  Like the European countries, Canada and the USA also have their areas that they intensely specialize in and bring home the gold - Canada in hockey (*sigh*), and USA in basketball.  

But unlike the Netherlands, we're not done when that one sport is over.  We're bringing home silvers and bronzes and even golds in dozens of other sports that we don't really specialize in.

Blue in Yarmouth

February 22nd, 2014 at 6:52 PM ^

It's nice being good at so many things and it makes the olympics fun to watch since when one event finishes you always have someone competing in the next one. The eurpoean countries probably stop watching altogether after their main sport is finished.

I was just pointing out that  what he was saying is technically true. The USA and Canada could probably be better in speed skating if we didn't try and compete at so many of the various events. Personally I prefer the way we do it currently, but even clowns like this guy are entitled to their opinion and in  the most technical of senses, he's right. 


February 27th, 2014 at 10:56 AM ^

Some of that is a matter of perspective. Americans (and everyone else) tend to notice the sports that are popular in their own country and not notice sports that aren't. How many here are watching internet streams of preliminary round team handball matches? Or early rounds of the Olympic badminton tournament? Rhythmic gymnastics?

Those sports get maybe 2% of the coverage time NBC devotes to beach volleyball, and there's a general sense that they, and others, "aren't real sports." But in other parts of the world they draw the same level of passion football does here. I've been to packed-house handball matches in Europe, it's intense. Dirk Nowitzki was torn between a basketball or a handball career. Sharapova wanted to be a rhythmic gymnast as a child, had to settle for tennis.



February 21st, 2014 at 8:00 PM ^

I don't agree with him, but I enjoy a little inter-sport trash talk - and he's got the hardware to talk.

In any event, this guy must be the John Wooden of his sport - what the Dutch have done this Olympics is unreal.  Speed skating isn't normally dominated by one country like this.




February 21st, 2014 at 7:59 PM ^

I'm always confused when people talk about sports that "matter". What sport matters in a substantive way? To pose it in the direction of this coach, what does your sport bring to the world that football doesn't?

Also this:

Mike Kenn

February 21st, 2014 at 8:20 PM ^

Well if we are talking about an impact on the world, one could argue that football teaches teamwork and sacrifice. Individual sports such as speed skating cannot possibly teach its competitors to work together with 10 other men to accomplish a goal. (And that is ignoring the fact that there ae usually 50 pro, and 80ish college players per team)

Sports like american football also helps economies, gives people hope and something to cheer for and follow, and gives people a chance to make a career doing something they love and help their family in significant ways. 


February 21st, 2014 at 8:43 PM ^

Your last paragraph describes anything that's entertaining to mass groups of people. Music is probably the best example but there are plenty of others.

The first I don't agree with because teamwork isn't the only valuable life lesson to take away from sports. Devin getting up off the turf for the sake of his team is one thing to admire in sports, but the boxer getting up off the canvas for his own sake is too. They're different mindsets, but both are admirable in their own way.


February 21st, 2014 at 10:10 PM ^

in one of his events, I believe the 200.

Speaking of Jesse Owens; Student Athletes from Michigan and the University attended by Jesse Owens have combined for roughly 175 Gold Medals. Dutch Athletes have won roughly 100. Ponder that, and when you stop laughing, realize that we've probably devoted too much time and energy to his comment. I think we can give them their due for mastery in one sport.

For those of you still reading comments way down here, a bonus.

Some days back, there was an article regarding Lewan and his training down at IMG along with his work to improve his 40 time. Someone questioned the work of Wellman and his staff, wondering why they didn't turn Lewan into a sprinter.

Here is an article about 40 times and the combine - not IMG, but interesting nonetheless.  Welcome to the Pros - Meet a speed coach.



February 21st, 2014 at 10:49 PM ^

... you people are really being dense.  Comparing US medals to the Netherlands in absolute terms?  Really?  I'm all for ra ra, patriotism, but don't make stupid assertions about olympic prowess that woud get you laughed out of a stats 101 class at Michigan.


Posting again: http://www.medalspercapita.com/

OMG Shirtless

February 21st, 2014 at 11:19 PM ^

Can you really make that comparison when the athletes at OSU/UofM come from all over the country?  OSU/UofM are still selecting athletes from a larger pool than the entire country of the Netherlands.  It's not like all of those OSU/UofM athletes are from Columbus/Ann Arbor or even Ohio/Michigan.  Even the population of Michigan and Ohio combined is greater than that of the Netherlands.


February 21st, 2014 at 11:22 PM ^

... me.  Apologies, I didn't see the UM/OSU part, which would haveled me to tone down my snark level.  I agree with OMGShirtless, though, that UM/OSU is not a good comparison against a whole country since people seek out these schools for athletic training.  I don't think a comparable program exists in the Netherlands that is tied to universities.  On a whole, though, my point about comparing medal counts in absolute terms just doesn't make sense. 


February 21st, 2014 at 11:42 PM ^

In fact, it would be every bit as ludicrous as referring to football as "a sport that sucks". 

Note also that I included "give them their due". They are a tiny delegation. They skate well, I can live with that, as long as they don't play hockey.

Blue Indy

February 22nd, 2014 at 9:32 AM ^

If we're talking about getting laughed out of a stats 101 class, then let's be real. Counting medals per capita is ridiculous unless it takes into account ALL the medals awarded. For example, when the U.S. gets their silver in hockey, they are actually awarded 25 silver medals (42 if you're counting coaches), not just 1. If you're going to compare medals per capita, then you have to take into account the amount of PEOPLE getting medals, not the amount of events that are medaled in.

STW P. Brabbs

February 22nd, 2014 at 1:34 PM ^

But I'm totally failing to understand why medals per capita is so obviously the proper metric. America's a big, populous country. This gives it an advantage, in that there are greater chances for genetic combinations that make for good athletes. But why does it make sense to try to set that advantage aside?

Sort of reminds me of arguments I used to have with my buddy about Shaq in his heyday. He used to argue that if Shaq was, say, 6'4", he'd barely be able to play college ball. But he's not 6'4". He's a damn battleship. That's why he was so good.


February 21st, 2014 at 8:05 PM ^

I guess I can see where he's coming from... But does that mean if the Dutch quit wasting talent in speed skating they would have a better basketball team?

Maybe we should get a chart to compare the salaries and fame of football players and speed skaters. Then he could see why a lot of young men "waste their talent" with such violent activities.

I would probably watch more speed skating if Denard was on the ice though.