Dear readers, an apology. Over the last few months we in the British media may have given you the impression that this is a nation of spineless losers that prefer remote controls and TV dinners to sporting equipment and hard work.
It appears we may have been wrong. It’s just that we’re not very good at the sports you like watching and reading about.
Football, cricket, rugby, motorsport and athletics…sorry, not much doing there. But cycling, equestrian, gymnastics, rowing and sailing…you probably missed it but we can do those.
We’re even quite good at boxing, a sport we used to like but appear to be going off (if the diminishing coverage and Sports Personality of the Year treatment of Joe Calzaghe are anything to go on).
There are two big-ish sports I haven’t mentioned yet and they are often grouped together, largely because of their popularity in Surrey and their obsession with correct clothing. But tennis and golf illustrate the popular/unsuccessful v unpopular/successful divide better than any other.
Don’t believe me?
Prior to his defeat by Rafael Nadal on Monday, Andy Murray, Britain’s best tennis player, had been mentioned in 305 articles in the last month (according to our press cuttings service). Luke Donald, Britain’s number one golfer (he’s the bloke in the picture that accompanies this story), had appeared in 46. That is despite Donald playing well in two decent tournaments.
The comparison is even worse here. Murray’s name has appeared in 65 stories published on this website in January alone. Donald, the world’s seventh best golfer, has featured in just seven.
Our live coverage of the Murray v Nadal match got nearly six million page impressions - over seven times the amount our second most popular story got.
OK, I know the Australian Open is one of tennis' four Grand Slams, but 65-7 (305-46 elsewhere)! And Donald hit the flag with a chip shot that would have taken one of those tournaments to a play-off.
Paul Casey, another young British golfer with a higher ranking than Murray’s, actually won a tournament on Sunday – his fourth win in 14 months. Since New Year, he has appeared in 32 stories in the national press and three on this site.
There are, in fact, three British golfers ranked higher than Murray, currently the 16th best tennis player in the world. And there are 13 Brits in the top 100 golfers (which other sport played by more than a handful of countries we used to run can we say that about?).
Last year, the European Tour’s top rookie was Scotland’s Marc Warren and his compatriot Richie Ramsay became the first Briton since 1911 to win the prestigious US Amateur (Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, to name just two, often include their US Amateur titles in their majors totals). And half of the Ryder Cup team that crushed the US in September were British.
Murray and Tim Henman, on the other hand, are the only British men in the top 100 tennis players.
Britain’s female golfers aren’t quite as strong as their male counterparts at present but there are still five of them with a better ranking than the best British female tennis player, the 144th-ranked Anne Keothavong.
So why don't we care?
If the British sporting cupboard is as bare as we've been led to believe, why aren’t golfers treated like beacons amid the gloom?
Instead, TV ratings on the BBC for golf are down and Sky Sports allowed Setanta to poach coverage of the PGA Tour.
In 2006, Britain's much-discussed sporting annus horribilis, Jenson Button won one race, Ricky Hatton won one fight, Monty Panesar delivered one genuine Test-winning performance, Steven Gerrard won one trophy and last, but by no means least, Murray won one tournament.
They all got Sports Personality nominations. Donald, who didn't show up on the SPOTY radar, also won one tournament. But he did chip in at the Ryder Cup and cement his position among the elite with a record of remarkable consistency (his scoring average in the US was bettered by only Woods, Jim Furyk and Adam Scott).
Will this year be any different? The bookies don't think so. The SPOTY favourite is flavour-of-the-moment Murray. You will struggle to get a better price than 5-1 on him. You should, however, be able to back Donald at 33-1.
This is crazy, isn't it? Donald already has two third-place finishes in majors (which are surely the equivalent of semi-final appearances in a tennis Grand Slam...two rounds further than Murray has managed and as far as Henman ever got) and is getting better all the time.
And don’t get me started on the fact that the witty and charming Donald actually possesses a personality slightly more rounded than Mardy’s, sorry, Murray’s impression of Harry Enfield’s Kevin.
OK, Donald is going to have to get past Woods if he is going to deliver the kind of win that gets people off their sofas, but Roger Federer isn't going to let Murray win Wimbledon just because the stroppy Scot and the rest of the union are willing it to happen.
It is also worth pointing out that Faldo didn’t win the first of his six majors until he was 30, Donald doesn’t reach his fourth decade until December.
The only possible reason for the fact that Murray is a bigger story than Donald (and Casey and David Howell and Justin Rose etc etc) right now must be Wimbledon.
As no British male has won a Grand Slam event since Fred Perry earned his eighth GS win at the 1936 US Open, a talented British tennis player with a genuine competitive streak is, I suppose, a man bites dog story.
British golfers have won 17 majors since then, nine in the last 20 years.
But does our seemingly endless tussle with failure have to be a better story than a credible quest for success?
*Very long I know...but its a good read.http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A19158032