US sprinter Noah Lyles made waves this week with his take on the term “world champions” when used in professional sports settings. The runner doesn’t believe the phrase should be used for those that compete in typical American leagues like the NFL or NBA.
Instead, he says the title should be reserved to only those that compete on a global level. Many around the sports and entertainment industry have taken offense to his comments.
Lyles’ remarks came earlier this week, sparking an eruption of response online.
“World champion of what? The United States?”
Track and Field star Noah Lyles on NBA champs calling themselves World Champs.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 27, 2023
“The thing that hurts me the most is the fact that I have to watch the NBA Finals, and they have ‘world champions’ on their head,” Lyles said. “World champion of what? The United States? Don’t get me wrong, I love the US, at times, but that ain’t the world… We are the world. We have almost every country out here fighting, thriving, putting on their flag to show that they are represented. There ain’t no flags in the NBA.”
Players and media immediately responded to the take, with many in professional sports leagues upset with his opinion. He did, however, have some supporters, including track star Sha’Carri Richardson, who said, “I’m standing with Noah on this one… You have to go against the world in order to be a world champion.”
Sports personality Ashley Nicole Moss isn’t siding with Richardson and Lyles on the stance, and she said why on her I Am Athlete podcast.
“Now people are divided on whether they agree or disagree with Noah’s initial statement about world champions,” Ashley Nicole Moss began. “I’m somebody who disagrees with it.”
She continued to give explanation on that take.
“The NBA is the best basketball league in the world. This is in comparison to other basketball leagues, which there are, across the world. We have a plethora of international players in the league, which is showcasing that, again, the NBA is the best league in the world which is why international players want to play in the NBA. They’re not choosing to stay in their home countries and play there.
“Also, some people can say, ‘Oh well they only play against other American teams,’ which is fair, but you can’t negate the fact that when you take the very best of the best from the NBA, and they play for Team USA in the Olympics, they walk away with the gold every time.
“It continues to solidify that the NBA has the best basketball players, collectively, in the world.”
A strong stance, though her co-host, former wide receiver Brandon Marshall, disagreed. His opinion certainly holds weight considering he played 13 seasons in the NFL.
The sports world seems split on the opinion, and this story continues to cause reaction from both competitors and sports followers. We’ve likely not heard the end of it.