Dr. Mary Pyron
December 6, 2012
The Impact Sports Have On America
On April 15th, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American baseball player in the 20th century to play in Major League Baseball, that year he lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to the World Series. Why is this important? Decades before the civil rights movement racial and cultural barriers were being torn down in various sports stadiums across the country. In 1947 the Brooklyn Dodgers and their fans showed the world that it doesn’t matter where you are from or what color you are, if you work together as a family to overcome adversity you can accomplish the impossible. If we take a look back into our history we can see that “sports don’t just make a large impact on the American Society. They are essential for such a diverse environment to succeed” (Swanson). The impact that sports have had on America is infinite; sports help us to be better human beings by teaching us lessons in tolerance and perseverance, and giving us an outlet to use when stressed.
Sports have been a coping mechanism for the American people throughout history, an escape from the turmoil that surrounds them. In looking back at 9/11 Rosenberg says that “[He] was not thinking games played by strangers (professional athletes) were about to become bigger than ever.” After 9/11 the American people felt violated, powerless, and unsafe; these feelings were the most prevalent in New York. In the wake of 9/11, the New York Yankees won the rest of there games to make the play-offs and when the AL championship; this is significant because before 9/11 they were playing very poorly, after the tragedy the team banded together to give the citizens of NYC hope, and to let them know that not everything was lost, they let them know that they still had sports. Spectator sports gives us something to focus on that does not harm us, instead of channeling all of our energy into worrying about things out of our control we can use sports as an outlet. In today’s world we are so used to arguing, we hear it when we turn on the news, we hear it in every conversation about politics, but “when it comes to sports, we now take comfort in the bickering, knowing that in this artificial world we can argue and nobody will die because of it. With so much at stake everywhere else, we have elevated the importance of games where we have so little to lose” (Rosenberg). Without sports as an outlet for our frustrations, we would have no distractions to protect us from the souring state of the world. During the 2008 Olympics “no one cared whether you were a democrat or a republican, for McCain or Obama. The only thing that mattered was that Michael Phelps won and the basketball team got the gold” (Swanson). The Olympics is a perfect example of sports not only guiding the American people, but fighting for them as well. In the middle of the Cold War, during the 1980 Winter Olympics, the United States hockey team pulled one of the biggest upsets in sports history, they defeated the Soviet Union, this was not only a huge victory for the U.S hockey team, it was a huge victory for the United States as a whole. By believing in and rooting for your favorite sports team you supporting many of the principals this country is built upon. Not only do sports serve as a coping mechanism, they also serve as a common bond between Americans.
To this day sports continue to break down cultural barriers and diminish racial tension across the country. This is because “sports bring us together as a society. No matter your race, gender, age, ethnicity, or religion, sports is our common bond. In times of racism and hatred, the American Society use sports as a crutch” (Swanson). One fact that is often overlooked is the “effects of integration and increased racial tolerance resonated out of the sports world and into society” (Navedo). Sports accomplish this feat by being an example. When Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn