American Sports: A Unique Dynamic
Back in the fall, the nation held its breath as the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, which was something the Cubs have not accomplished since 1908! The entire city of Chicago celebrated, and the school system closed the following week so the children could enjoy the win. Recently Clemson prevailed over Alabama in the college football national championship game, and the NFL’s playoff rounds resulted in victories for the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. As a result, people all over the nation will throw parties to celebrate Super Bowl LI. Some will take off work and others will travel hundreds of miles to witness the game in person.
What drives America’s love for sports? One vantage point is that America loves the underdog story. We like to root for the team viewed as less talented fighting a bigger and stronger opponent. When you think about it, America’s history is one infused with endless accounts of the unlikely achieving greatness despite the odds (e.g. the American Revolution, Civil Rights era, etc.). Additionally, sports have been a source of healing in the nation regarding social injustices. Sports teams exhibit compromise and oneness to achieve a goal bigger than any individual player on the team. That is a comparable parallel to social action in America, and I believe all of this to be true.
I am also mindful that perhaps something else is transpiring as Americans indulge in sports watching. Something that takes place deep in our subconscious and we may not even realize it. To watch Michael Phelps achieve greatness during the Olympics or to witness the Chicago Bulls never lose a Finals Series in the 90s is mesmerizing and something positive. However, if we are not careful, we can get conditioned to stopping everything we are doing to witness other people pursue and live out their dreams. It appears harmless to watch game after game, but over time, it can become easier to sit in front of a television and never actually accomplish anything because there is always a sporting event to be excited about. I am not advocating that we unplug and not tune into sporting events. However, I am encouraging us to be just as willing to pursue our goals as we are to clearing out our schedule (sometimes a whole weekend) just to watch other people get paid millions of dollars to play with a ball for a few hours. I say this as someone who loves sports and see it is a form of entertainment. But there is something taken place when individuals cannot be productive workers the following week or loving to their family and friends when their team does not win. Now that truly is a unique dynamic.