Not Just A Game: The Importance Of Sport in American Culture

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All over the world, America is known not only for its athletes’ quality and commitment to showcasing the best of the best but also for its cultural commitment to and involvement in sports. It’s a cultural phenomenon all over the country: sport is a common thread connecting most Americans. People from different backgrounds, from doctors to waste management professionals, and people of different ethnicities, genders, ages, and personality types can all come together over a mutually beloved sport.

The fact that America loves the sport as much as it does is clearly evidenced by many parts of American culture and typified by the fact that Americans regard baseball as the “national pastime.” Online sports betting in America is an incredibly lucrative business, and many sports lovers enjoy the occasional flutter on the outcome of a match featuring arch-rival teams or players. Sport is a cornerstone of American culture and society, but how did it become so? Let’s take a look at the facts.

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Sport, Society, Economy

Sport is so deeply woven into the fabric of American society on so many levels that the average American probably has no idea it’s as big a part of their life as it is. For one thing, sports in the US are an enormous part of the local economy. The tickets taken at the average Bulls game, the fees paid to players who then pay tax, the money made by managers and agencies and by social media managers: these amounts come in near the billions each year. That much money keeps the wheels of any economy turning with not even the slightest suggestion of a squeak.

The result of such a solid partnership between the American economy and the world of sports means that sports are further lifted and accorded an even higher place of honor and priority in the eyes of not only the people who directly reap the rewards but also the US public who sees more and more about these athletes and their sports on TV and special media as a result.

The sidelines from being a sports star in the US are many and lucrative. Shoes, sportswear, food, drinks, workout programs…all revenue streams are open to sports stars during and after their sporting careers. The bigger the star, the correspondingly bigger the status symbol their shoe collaboration with Adidas or Nike becomes, and the further the general public will go to own them. These collector’s items can, in turn, be re-sold for a considerable amount of money, so the wheels of the economy, well greased by both sports and American society, keep turning.

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Sports and Culture

As long as America has been America, Americans have been fiercely committed to supporting any American industry, sports included. Take a look at football fans and what a huge part football plays in their lives. The sheer amount of social interaction brought into a sports fan’s life, particularly football fans, is staggering. Superbowl parties, tailgate parties, games, fantasy football, betting on the outcome of games…all of these things offer Americans forms of social interaction that can extend their social circle. Without football, none of those opportunities would have arisen in such a high volume, keeping sports and socializing hand in hand.  

America has always prided itself on being a strong nation that is not afraid to fight for its wins. The sports culture is a celebration of excellence and that fighting spirit that so typifies modern America. The formula for being good at sports is to work hard and hone your skills: values Americans find at the core of the American dream. It only makes sense that most Americans appreciate this almost kabuki-like playing out of the values that they hold so dear. Sports offers America a new, safe kind of hero that pushes their ability to the limits without engaging in any kind of battle or non-family-safe violence.

Perhaps, at least over the last decade or so, the most important connection between sports and American culture is that sports cause a harkening back to a simpler time. Most sports haven’t changed that much since their inception. Boxing, football, baseball…all these sports that have brought Americans together for hundreds of years, in some cases, are today almost exactly what they were when they were born.

There is a common sentiment in modern America of nostalgia and remembering “the good old days.” Pretty girls cheering from the sidelines, hotdogs and beer in the stands, crowds of people united in a single purpose; this combination brings to the surface that desire for simple things and satisfies it simultaneously. America is a nation that loves its nostalgia and grabs (with both hands) any opportunity to forget the woes of the world and indulge in pastimes that transport them completely.

people watching baseball
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Wrap Up

American culture and a deep, passionate love for sports are inextricably linked. Supporting your team and your sport no matter what is considered a modern American ideal, just like loving apple pie and pickup trucks. And really, who can blame them?

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