When I was younger, I thought of baseball as the quintessential American sport. The image of going to a ball park, ordering a hot dog and then watching a game that could last from two to seven hours was more American to me than a donut hamburger. But that perception changed.
The idea of baseball being the American pastime comes from the 1850s, when the explosion of the game in New York City saw the papers there herald it as the “nation’s pastime” or “America’s game.”
I believe this idea of baseball being the nation’s pastime has, however, changed since those days.
But what does it mean to be a nation’s pastime? For baseball, it was achieved because the game took over New York then spread throughout the country.
In a more defined sense, it was the most popular and widely played sport in the country.
If that is what gained baseball its success and widespread popularity, can it lose its title as the nation’s pastime to the current most popular sport?
Going by that question, football would be the nation’s pastime. The NFL had the highest average attendance during the 2017 season drawing an average of 67,405 people per game.
The other top sport leagues — the MLS, the NHL, the MLB and the NBA — all pale in comparison to this number. Only the MLB, whose highest turnout in 2017 was 47,042 by the LA Dodgers, comes close. You would have to triple nearly all of the NBAs, the MLBs, the NHLs and the MLSs average attendances to get on the level of the NFL.
By those numbers and the methods through which baseball attained its title, football is now the national pastime
So if the national pastime is transferable and not a permanent title, does that mean any sport can attain it?
This is the question I am most interested in, as I think the answer to this is more complicated than a simple yes. I believe the American pastime is what an individual makes of it.
Football and baseball aren’t the sports that all 325 million Americans identify as their pastime. For me and my family, our pastime is soccer.
For my friend Sean, his pastime is rock-climbing. For the dedicated members of my indoor recreation league, they see a sport completely different from the most popular one as their pastime.
Football has, however, dipped dramatically in popularity due to a myriad of reasons — and while football has dipped, others sports have flourished.
Soccer in America has exploded, taking over cities and communities.
But again, this growth of choice, of America becoming even more of a melting pot of variation, further proves the point that the idea of there only being one national past time is antiquated and doesn’t take into account how diverse America is now.
Being the most popular sport in America doesn’t make it mine or anyone else’s pastime just because we live in America.
We can choose to love that sport and maybe say it’s our national pastime, but that decision is up to the individual and not some antiquated idea.
I would believe that all sports have now become America’s pastime.
There are many more sports compared to when baseball and football became widely popular.
A person can play sports from the comfort of their own bed. Esports have taken over in the world; even have an Esports team at Trinity.
More than ever, the variety of sports at kids’ fingertips shows that the idea that our country is symbolized by only one sport is wrong.
America is a nation of individuals, and we all represent it.
It’s not represented by one sport or by one person. Our collective individuality is what makes up the massive conglomerate of ideals called America.