Sharing the national stage for a few days, two individuals and a team are charged with adding pizzazz to their sport.
One individual will succeed immediately, the other is a maybe and the group is burdened with circumstances that make their product a tough sell week in and week out in the United States.
In order, they are Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie and the U.S. team in the World Cup.
The most magnetic player on the PGA Tour, Woods returns to competition this week for the first time since undergoing back surgery for a pinched nerve in March. With Woods on the sideline and Phil Mickelson looking very ordinary, TV ratings have plummeted.
Woods’ presence in the field this week at Congressional Country Club will produce a spike in the number. For or against Woods, casual fans watch him.
Ratings from the Players Championship in mid-May reflect Woods’ star power. Although arguably the best field of the year was competing, the overnight rating on NBC was an abysmal 2.6, down 54 percent from 2013 when Woods won the tournament.
Woods didn’t enter this week’s event until shortly before the deadline and the fact the tournament benefits his foundation might have influenced his decision. “I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape,” he said.
Interpreting that remark, a top 25 finish would be an accomplishment.
Still, CBS’ golf coverage during the weekend promoted his return ad nauseum, even stretching a point about the FedEx Cup to mention Woods.
Wie’s immediate impact is more difficult to gauge. Fresh from her first victory in a major, she is to play in Northwest Arkansas this weekend. With former Arkansas Razorback Stacy Lewis also in the field, attendance should be extraordinary.
Who knows whether America’s double team of Wie in the U.S. Open and Lewis’ ranking as world No. 1 will move young girls to put down their phones and pick up a driver and their parents to support LPGA tournaments in need of red, white, and blue. Remember that the No. 1 women’s player at the end of each of the last four years has been from South Korea.
Much maligned for failing to live up to comparisons with Woods since she was in her teens, Wie finished in style — bouncing back from a double bogey on the 16th with a birdie on the 17th for a two-stroke lead.
Bent over at the waist to form an upside down block L, her putting stance is odd. But, she navigated 72 holes on Pinehurst No. 2 without a three-putt and those of us who had 19 putts on the front nine on Sunday would stand on one leg for such results.
When the U.S. plays Germany on Thursday, the record for soccer-watching viewers in America likely will be broken for the third time in less than two weeks.
The victory against Ghana attracted more than 11 million viewers on ESPN and the overnight rating for the tie with Portugal was a record for an ESPN telecast of World Cup games.
Short term, all is good; long term, not so much. The “U-S-A” chants that ring out at watch parties, where soccer and socializing are on the menu, will fade once the U.S. is eliminated. Even though Seattle set a Major League Soccer record with average attendance of more than 44,000 last year, the 19 teams in the league averaged less than 19,000.
In addition to the lack of scoring in 90-minute games, there is a disconnect between casual fans and World Cup athletes.
Less than half the members of the U.S. team play on professional teams in this country and only 3 percent of World Cup participants are employed by MLS teams.
Even if the U.S. shocks the soccer world in Brazil, football fans will not convert to futbol. Somehow, soccer must locate and educate folks without allegiance to another sport.
Harry King is a sports columnist. His email is HLeonK42@gmail.com.