Move over Baseball, Football is America’s New National Pastime
The argument over which sport actually ranks as America’s national pastime is as enduring and intense as American sports themselves. Each and every week millions of Americans tune in to watch their favorite sports. Over the years baseball has traditionally been known as the national pastime among all sports, but the rich tradition and history behind baseball is almost certainly being slowly replaced by the glamour of football season. Although baseball is still referred to as America’s national pastime, football is by far the most popular sport in this country today. This can be attributed to many factors ...view middle of the document...
Some sports critics claim that baseball is still America’s national pastime, but Nielsen broadcast ratings prove otherwise. Football is, and always will be, the undisputed heavyweight champion in terms of TV ratings. Football’s championship game, the Super Bowl, has the highest ratings on network television year in and year out. According to The New York Times, “The 17 most-watched programs in TV history have all been Super Bowl games” (Curtis, 2009, p. 1, para. 1). Football is perfectly packaged into three-hour programming blocks and provides reliable television for the networks and sports fans alike (McAdams, 2004, p. 2, para. 3). It’s as if football was tailor-made for television. So much so, that many people enjoy watching football on television more than being at the actual game. While baseball features a solitary matchup between a pitcher and a hitter who stand 60 feet away from each other, football involves twenty-two players, all of whom are lined up in a much smaller viewing area, with the players and action all within camera view. According to author Ray Browne, “Football fits television like a glove. The action can be seen from distant cameras, the ball is easy to follow, pauses in the action give commentators time to talk, and the game has natural breaks for advertisers” (p. 775, para. 5). And with improved technology, the more exciting televised football has become. The use of instant replay on television significantly improved the game off football, while baseball has come under scrutiny from critics and fans for not updating the game through the use of new technology.
There is another, more subtle factor at play here with football as well. Football fills the need that a lot of people have for controlled violence. Since the earliest days of documented history, humans have enjoyed watching violent sport as a form of entertainment. In America that form of entertainment is known as football. Think about America’s passion for physical contact. American people especially admire those who can take a hit a bounce back up. Physical contact is much more prevalent on the gridiron than on the baseball diamond, where oftentimes things move painstakingly slow and where you rarely see two baseball players have any sort of collision or contact. On the other hand, football is organized team violence which provides instant gratification with high-speed crashes on every play. Whatever the reason, Americans crave physicality and controlled violence in their sports, and unfortunately for baseball, it’s not able to give them either. Americans definitely favor the controlled violence of football to baseball.
Football overcoming baseball as America’s new national pastime can also be linked to fantasy football and gambling. Football is a sport that easily lends itself to gambling. Unlike baseball, which uses a...