Organized sports are big business, backed by rabid fans that spend huge sums of money each year to see their favorite teams play. Why are sports so important to Americans? Why are sports so important to all cultures around the world? Baseball and Football are the two most popular team sports in America, so they will be the focus early on at rawsports.org. They have been very important in the development of pop-culture and athletics for generations of young Americans. There are many questions facing the state of these two games these days, and some of the questions transcend the sports that they are dealing with and can be asked of as a larger question of society. Why is it that we treat athletes as superstars, as role models and not give the same attention to people who make real contributions to society? In the old days, not in the too distant past I might add, young boys wanted to grow up and be fireman and policeman and other servants of the public good. Now, they want to be athletes or movie stars or stars of their own YouTube webcast. It’s all about entertainment and, unfortunately, entertainment has become America’s new past time. Athletics for the pure enjoyment of competing and exercise have been pushed aside. Athletes have always been looked up to and admired by adoring fans and kids, but I think in the old days, the athletes embraced that roll easier and with more care and placed a greater importance on it. Some athletes of today still embrace the ways of the past, but far too often they get caught up in the greed and pressure to succeed, and they tend to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Sports as a sense of community
I think that one of the reasons that so many people watch and love sports is because of the sense of community and kinship. For example, two people can pass each other on the street, neither one of them knowing the other, but because they are both wearing a baseball cap or jersey of the same team, they can acknowledge one another. Maybe even engage in a conversation that they would have otherwise never have gotten into. The same can also be said for the two strangers that pass each other wearing a baseball cap or jersey of rival teams. They would still be more likely to engage in some friendly, or if you are in Philadelphia, some not so friendly banter than two strangers without a common thread. The two strangers automatically have something in common, a group identity that they can share and a built in starting point. They automatically have a history built up from the teams past glories and failures.
Why is it so important for people to be involved in sports?
This phenomenon of community can be achieved in actively partaking in sports as well. It has long been agreed upon that sports and team sports in particular help develop the social and mental skills needed by youngsters. A chance to be a team player, learn how to cooperate and win or lose with people who are just as invested in a common goal as you are important skills to learn. A lot of adults could make use of relearning such skills.
The state of baseball
Since baseball has such a long, intertwined history in this country, I think that it is a perfect activity to examine while asking the questions posed. How did a sport that was so popular, for so long get to the point of near irrelevance in this country? Well, for one, baseball was invented and became popular in a time in our history when things moved a little slower. Life wasn’t so high speed and hectic. It was the perfect game for a lazy Tuesday or Sunday afternoon. The season was long and the game was so full of statistics and numbers, that you would need the local newspaper to help keep track of all the goings on. The statistics and numbers could be discussed over dinner or at the factory or in the fields. It was something that everyone could talk about and it was an important topic of discussion. By the mid part of the last century, there were already decades of statistics and information to be looked at and discussed and passed down from father to son. Even of greater significance was the breaking of the color barrier in that decade by Jackie Robinson. It was a precursor, a glace into the future of American society.
Gambling and cheating in baseball
The things that make baseball so great and such an interesting sport also make it one of the easiest to blemish. Because it is such a statistics and numbers driven sport, those statistics and numbers have to retain as much credibility and integrity as possible. Gambling and cheating in any form compromise the integrity of the game. We rely on these statistics and numbers to gauge the players of the past as well as the current generation of players. Anything that skews those numbers and gives any one period a marked advantage over another, takes the meaning away from those years. That is why making sure that steroids or any other substance that gives unfair advantages to any player has to be eradicated from the game. It compromises all the numbers and records that are achieved. Gambling can have the same effect as cheating, When the fans and the general public can no trust the scores and records, then the game has become nothing more than professional wrestling. The outcomes of the games cannot come into question; otherwise the whole sport becomes irrelevant.