Michael Pavitt

A vast number of sporting fans across Europe and the United States have had their attention fixed on events in Paris over the past three days, as Ryder Cup fever has taken over.

Eyes will have been either staring at the television coverage or glancing nervously at the scorecards to see whether it is turning blue or red. Those in the United Kingdom, without Sky subscription, have been able to enjoy listening to the raucous atmosphere through the excellent and excitable radio coverage.

A good portion of those interested will be casual viewers of golf. Their passing interest sees them tune into the final round of the four majors a year, while being blissfully unaware of other tournaments throughout the season.

The Ryder Cup succeeds in drawing in these casual golf viewers, like yours truly. It succeeds to such an extent that it is claimed 1.3 billion viewers will have watched, placing it behind only the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the FIFA World Cup in television popularity.

The history of the event is certainly part of the draw, with the Ryder Cup now heading towards its centenary. There is the clash between American patriotism and the uniting of Europe, which builds an atmosphere so different to your run of the mill golf event.

Clearly this is aided by the team element to the competition, with a largely individual sport transformed into a team focus. The ebbs and flows of the event also make it captivating viewing.

I would also suggest its biennial, rather than annual staging, allows excitement for the Ryder Cup to build and adds something different to the calendar. The women's Solheim Cup and the President's Cup seeing the rest of the world taking on the US have also spawned off the back of the Ryder Cup's success.

Major names of the sport serving as captains adds some intrigue off the course, as well as on it.

The Ryder Cup catches the attention of casual golf fans as well as avid viewers ©Getty Images
The Ryder Cup catches the attention of casual golf fans as well as avid viewers ©Getty Images

Other sports have certainly looked to tap into its success, even to the extent that tennis's version also sees a Scandinavian man with the name Bjorn captaining the European team. For Thomas Bjorn in the Ryder Cup, there is Bjorn Borg at the Laver Cup.

Joking aside, the Laver Cup is a clear example of a sport recognising the opportunity of taking a largely individual sport and turning it into a television friendly team competition.

The second edition of the tournament, held on an annual basis shortly after the US Open, took place earlier this month. Pitting Borg's Europe against a Rest of the World team led by John McEnroe, the opening two editions have enjoyed significant star power.

While the six player teams play a total of nine singles matches, there is a case for saying that the three doubles matches are arguably the most intriguing part.

If you have ever wondered how a doubles team of Switzerland's Roger Federer and Serbia's Novak Djokovic would shape up, look no further. The duo teamed up at the latest edition. They were beaten by South Africa's Kevin Anderson and American Jack Sock, the latter using his doubles prowess to good effect.

The image of Federer "coaching" Djokovic during one of his singles matches was certainly different to what we are accustomed to, with the duo normally locked in battle against each other.

"I have enjoyed spending time with Novak," Federer was quoted as saying. "I said it in the beginning that we have had an intense rivalry over the years.

"I always thought we got along well and respect each other on and off the court but being able to support him, him supporting me, going through that process and talking tactics, talking team, talking who should play and just seeing what a leader also Novak can be, it's been really nice and refreshing for me."

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer formed a doubles pairing at the Laver Cup ©Getty Images
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer formed a doubles pairing at the Laver Cup ©Getty Images

Clearly the tournament's design was not aimed at creating friendships between some of the best players to have played the game, with the focus instead on delivering another high class event to the public.

Given that the format sees matches worth one point on the opening day, two on the second and three on the third, it ensures neither side can triumph until the final day. This ensures fans are not going to see dead rubbers and the event clearly builds towards a climax.

Clearly it does not match the Ryder Cup and it seems quite jovial at this stage, but you could imagine it gaining further momentum in the coming years. With two editions now having taken place, it appears strange to think the event had not been part of the calendar before and it seems set to stay.

An older event than the Laver Cup, the Continental Cup of Curling, is another competition to have found a formula which appears based upon the Ryder Cup.

The upcoming edition in Las Vegas will be the 11th staging of the event, which pits North America against a "world" team – although this is entirely European.

While the traditional four player and mixed doubles can show off the Olympic disciplines, forcing teams to mix up in the "scramble" format clearly offers something different to the typical situation when top players just represent their own nation.

There are a few other examples of the team dynamic being used, such as the Mosconi Cup in pool where Europe again take on the US. Initially billed as an exhibition event, it has grown in importance over time. The Weber Cup is bowling's equivalent competition.

Could a sport like judo create an event with a similar format? ©Getty Images
Could a sport like judo create an event with a similar format? ©Getty Images

Several darts players in recent months have spoken about the prospect of a similar competition being established. A Great Britain and Ireland team taking on a rest of the world side has been mooted as a possibility.

You do wonder whether other sports could be tempted to tap into the Ryder Cup format to create their own events. Obviously the competing teams would largely need to be of equal strength. After all, the Ryder Cup was largely dominated by the US when they were taking on Britain and Ireland, but it has proved much more even since the US began facing Europe.

Given their recent introduction of team events, could judo be tempted by pitting an all-star Asian team against one from Europe? Perhaps, with China's dominance in table tennis, a battle against a rest of the world squad create interest.

While events may spawn using the format, the Ryder Cup will remain the most illustrious tournament of its type on the sporting calendar.