The decline of American hot dog eaters?

Christopher Lydon, host of Radio Open Source, wonders if this years lack of American dominance in sports is a leading indicator of its decline.  It’s not only the early elimination of the U.S. team in the Cup; we haven’t been involved in several of the most notable sports events of the summer:

At Wimbledon US didn’t get into the quarterfinals among either men or women, an unheard-of rout. Meanwhile, an Italian basketball star was the No. 1 pick in the NBA lottery. A Ghanaian blogger we love, Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah at Koranteng’s Toli adds, by email: “Nathan’s hot dog eating competition was won by Kobayashi again. A small Japanese guy out-ate red-blooded Americans. Hot dogs for God’s sake.”

Another intriguing thing: what in the world did Marco Materazzi, the Italian footballer on the receiving end of Zinedine Zidane’s forehead, say to Zidane to get him to respond like that?  I haven’t wanted to voice my “racist comment” theory, since it has no basis whatsoever, but Lydon is wondering the same thing, this time aided by some rumor-mongering in the Middle East:

Is the buzz in the Arab world to be believed: that France’s Zinedine Zidane was taunted into that ugly head-butt by Marco Materazzi’s calling him a “terrorist”?

I can’t help but wonder.

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