Thursday, July 28, 2011

trying to justify american football

Living overseas, I sometimes find myself trying to explain to people why American football is so popular in the U.S. It usually goes with the corollary of explaining why international football (aka: soccer) is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world.

Thank goodness, my friend Jack has addressed part of this question before. Others have also answered, but none of them are as cool, so we'll disregard their comments. But seriously, my stock answer has focused on explaining how football is part of American culture through its existence as a youth sport and into high school and then into college. Athletics in American high schools has some similarities with youth sports in other parts of the world. However, sports in American colleges and universities is very different than collegiate athletics in the rest of the world. And with football being this monolithic presence on many large university campuses, it holds a well-entrenched place in the typical week of many college students and plenty of non-students. I have met many people who were huge fans of the state school's football team just because they lived in the same state.

History partly explains why American football is popular here but not many other places. The sport developed into its more or less modern form here so it has incumbency status. With history and culture being what they are, and now combined with business being what it is, football is not going away anytime soon. Nor will it be supplanted by another sport, especially not soccer for commercial dominance in the U.S. The interesting question to ask is if soccer would be as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world if football had never existed? I am not convinced it would be. There's a certain joy within the American spirit that seems to relish being different than the rest of the world. This is a much deeper social question about American society, but at its core is the concept of American exceptionalism.

Anyway, there's another pool party tonight and I'm sure this will come up again like it always does. Yes, a pool party. And yes, it is a difficult life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have 19 posts in July. Can you top the 21 in Jan. this year? Pictures of the pool party please.