Intro to Sport Studies
March 1, 2015
American Influence on World Sport Sports play a large role in the culture of the United States as they contribute to entertainment, physical development, social development, and the overall personality of the country. While it is easy to take it for granted or as a domestic normality, the American sport customs also carry over and impact a wide variety of foreign nations that don’t place as great of an emphasis on the key sports such as basketball, football and baseball, among others. Sports can be used to promote a sense of cultural understanding and harmony among different countries (Woods, p. 152, 2011). For the most part it is widely known that soccer, or football as it is referred to outside of the U.S., is the king sport in most South American and European countries. While this is a focal point of sports entertainment and fan identification in foreign interests, there is an alternative tide that has also piqued the foreign interest. It is becoming more and more common for European and Asian countries to place a developmental importance on basketball, and it is also a mainstay for Major League Baseball to recruit and scout Latin American and Japanese players that are aspiring to emigrate to the U.S. in an attempt to become immersed in America’s national pastime. American sport has proved to have a great impact on the world through the recruitment of foreign athletes and the institution of foreign leagues inspired by American sports. Baseball has been the national pastime for a long stretch but unfortunately domestic youth interest has seemed to diminish in favor of more fast paced exhilarating sports like basketball and football. It can be seen by the youth as a monotonous game of slow trial and error that requires a great degree of specialization and obscure skill that can be discouraging when not achieved. It can be quite frustrating for one to continuously strike out or to be afraid of being plunked in the face by a line drive or a fast pitch. These perks of the game can be discouraging for the American youth whose attention spans are shortening by the generation, but in South American and Central American countries it is seen as much more than this. Baseball is a guiding light for young Latin American athletes, a gateway out of poverty and an opportunity to achieve success and fame in the geographically close United States that can seem like it is light years away from their modest lives. It provides hope and direction for the Latino youth who may otherwise become wrapped up in gangs, crime, or other types of corruption. It has inherently worked as a landmark to strive for, a certain opus that provides a greater reward than almost anything in their home country. The percentage of Latino players in the MLB has risen at a staggering rate, from 13 percent in 1990 to 30 percent in 2006 (Harkins, 2012). Twentieth century masters like Roberto Clemente of Puerto Rico and Juan Marichal of the Dominican Republic have paved the way for recent superstars like Manny Ramirez of the Dominican Republic and Miguel Cabrera of Venezuela (Harkins, 2012). Baseball was originally a game played solely by white Americans but the game has progressively taken a high road of wide diversity that has shaped a new frontier of players and coaches that encompass all walks of life. Abner Doubleday, the inventor of baseball, surely did not envision such a diverse state of the sport as he lived in an era centuries ago that had different ideals. It is hard to say if this is what he would have wanted, but the fact remains that America’s national pastime has taken a new image and has profoundly influenced the culture of other countries.
In addition to the wide popularity of baseball in Latin America, it has also heavily influenced the Japanese. The role of baseball in Japan can be traced back to 1873 when an American teacher in Tokyo by the name of Horace Wilson introduced the sport