Over at Rugby Wrap Up, Jake Frechette has struck a blow for clarity, the more valuable as TV programming expands.
Decrying sloppy descriptions of 'crossover' players, the distinction between USA Rugby and rugby in the USA, and other muddles, Frechette has simultaneously provided a positive alternative to the worst analogy in our game -- America as 'sleeping giant'.
Better to consider the country 'a battleship in dry dock', he writes. 'The thing is still be constructed, work is being done, and when it sails it will be dangerous. How dangerous will depend on how well it is constructed'.
Frechette's main target is the crossover athlete, objectionable because nearly every American athlete has previously played another sport.
Once intended to denote elite-level athletes who would become international game-changers inside 18 or so months -- Dan Lyle's going from summer 7s while training for a 1993 NFL tryout to a man-of-the-match debut at Lansdowne Road in fall 1994 -- the term has been pounded into mush, often by American TV commentators.
'The idea that one enterprise will prepare us for other, sometimes later, enterprises is true in all sorts of situations, athletic and otherwise', he writes. The point is taken. Here is the payload:
The label is most likely to be applied to rugby players from Tier 2 or Tier 3 nations and de-emphasizes their commitment to rugby and rugby skills. If they succeed in rugby, it is because of something they learned somewhere else.
Just so. US rugby may never be rid of Commonwealth condescension. The only effective defense is clear, self-defined identity. Almost 180 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson made the same point about American culture.