Culture of Sports
With the start of fall comes the start of sports. Football season has started and hockey season is about to start. Fall also brings the end of baseball season and soccer season is already in full swing. Here in Maryland, football is very important, so I asked myself why football is so big and if there are similarities to other sports. I also wondered what sports were prominent in other countries, like Spain, since football is considered an American sport.
What is it about sports that make people want to come together? Football, like any sport, is an escape from the realities of life. It is a form of entertainment that allows people to cheer for something without worrying about work, money, or family problems. Like football, sports in other countries and cultures play the same role. The question becomes what sport is prominent in other cultures, and how does it manifest itself.
Football and soccer are very similar. Both sports are team oriented, involve the use of one ball, and are the corner-stone sports of their cultures. Football is a classic American sport that is watched nationwide, and is a game that many children play growing up. In many countries around the world, including Spain, soccer is the football equivalent. In America, children start playing football in pee-wee leagues when they are in elementary school; in Spain, and countries around the world, soccer is learned at an early age. By playing these sports while the children are young, the idea of having a favorite professional team and watching the games either live or on television is practically engrained into the culture.
The way each sport is watched is also very similar. Football games are played on all major networks, scores scroll across the bottom of most news networks, there are apps to get scores on your phone, and friends throw parties just to watch the games together. Around the world, these same actions occur when soccer games are on.
What is interesting is that while soccer is prominent and popular around the world, but in America it is just gaining popularity. In every other country soccer is known as fútbol, instead in America we renamed it soccer so it would not become confused with football. Soccer was brought to America during major immigration influxes in the 1880s; shortly after FIFA was created in Europe, but America did not join (U.S. Soccer). Instead, America created the United States Football Association that had similar rules, and the USFA was incorporated into FIFA in 1914 (U.S. Soccer). Soccer became a professional sport in 1921, and has slowly grown in popularity throughout the years (U.S. Soccer). America has created and recreated different professional leagues, but soccer was finally brought to the forefront when the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994 (U.S. Soccer).
The prominence of soccer in cultures throughout the world has even bled into America where soccer was never that big. In America, with the influx of different cultures, soccer has increased in viewership and importance in America. With the popularity growing, kids start playing soccer at an earlier age, and the United States is starting to become more competitive internationally.
United States Soccer. U.S. Soccer Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.ussoccer.com/about/history/timeline.aspx
Submitted by Erin Schiels