American’s Obsession with Sports
Sports and the American family
Americans are said to be “sports-obsessed”. They often enjoy watching sports every time there is something worth their time because it is an important part of America’s culture. One really did not grow up normally without ever watching a sports show and hearing really bad comments against the refs. One of the most popular team sports in America’s culture is basketball. Advertisements of basketball seasons often involve the referee signalling for a “foul” or “the game is over”. These TV advertisements mean that not only the players keep basketball (and America’s obsession) alive, but also the refs.
Sports are everywhere, not only in the American home. You can watch your most awaited football game in the diner, in a restaurant, even in a bar. Your comments on how the game was decided on by the sports official were shared by the guy who delivered your pizza. If you wanted to get to know somebody, or take a step further beyond being acquaintances, the sports topic is the way to go.
The player-based credit
You know the basketball stars, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Yao Ming to name a few. But you never really cared about the sports official. You are familiar with Mike Tyson, Mohammad Ali and Manny Pacquiao, even familiar with the one calling out their names in the rings, but do you remember the face of the referee? You have called the refs a whole lot of bad names you have committed into memory every time they bring out the red card and present it to your favourite football star, David Beckham. As you see, the player gets all the credit (and a whole lot of money) while the sport official, unfortunately, usually have to bear the brunt of sports fans whose favorite team have just lost. We often forget that the best actor would never win the award without the best supportive role, a role which the referee never fails to do. He (or she) is in control of the action, never the player. However, despite the “disrespect” we credit to the sports official, it is the players who have really respected them during the game. If you were the referee, that would be good enough for you too.
Sports, stripes, stars, and the globe
Basketball may rank second (football got the first) as the most preferred sport by the Americans, but it does rank first in other parts of the world. Countries especially those previously colonized (some currently neo-colonized) by the Americans are especially fond of the sport. The rationale behind the introduction of the sport is not very popular, only the game is.
In some third world countries, basketball is so popular that you can find basketball courts in every community. Most of the time, in the amateur sports world, there would be no referees to officiate the game and the players just call the fouls by themselves. However, in sports-mad America where playing the game is taken very seriously, it is not uncommon to see amateur referees refereeing in a neighbourhood game.
Sports, unlike other imported good, has been deeply inculcated in culture that one may realize that it goes beyond globalization. It is an actual reflection of how America has deeply entwined itself to the economic aspect of these countries. Consequently, it has presented itself in the superstructures like education and culture.
The woman referee and the female coach
Many claim that women born in the 21st century are lucky enough to be considered on par with their male counterparts. But sports are just one of the manifestations that women still have a long way to go for gender equity. You may have seen some sports played by women players officiated by female refs like NWBA or National Women Basketball Association. You may also have seen female players officiated by a male referee like in a volleyball game and in women’s boxing. But very rarely have you seen a game with male players officiated by a female sports official (except maybe in chess if ever you have seen a tournament).
In sports, society has delineated what it considers women’s games and men’s games. Admittedly there are anatomic differences which would matter in players (want to see female versus male boxing game?), but sports equity might just work on the sport official.
However, it is just worth mentioning how a famous TV show defied the odds and featured something far from possible and probably true at the same time. Remember Coach Beist from Glee Season 2? She is a female sports official coaching a school’s football varsity team. Setting aside Sue Sylvester’s sabotage, she had to be masculine enough to fit to the role and had to go through a lot to be accepted by the team. We have a lot of females who have the potential to be refs. They have to go through a lot too in order to fill in the sport official post.
Sports and apathy
It is very interesting to note how Americans know every bit of information about the latest football match or even the previous matches for the last 3 seasons. How the average American guy can be very opinionated about the player he bets on and even know the details of the player’s personal life. This shows the obsession of Americans in sports. However this is directed to something that is out of his control, rather than to something he or she is more in control of like politics and the environment. The American culture may have been conservative enough for the American to direct his or her radical idea to sports.
The typical American forgot that the most famous players were the most opinionated on society. Take for example the famous boxer, Mohammad Ali who has voiced out and actively campaigned against the war because it is against the Koran.
But as the economy has changed, America’s culture will follow too. Sometime soon the American will realize that he or she can be the referee of history and can officiate it.