During my time in the states in the summer of 2005, being an avid sports fan I attempted to experience as many of the American national sports as possible. Although not entirely unfamiliar to them, what was an eerie experience seeing first hand the committed fan base each individual sport had, the set up of each sport from grass roots to professional, and how sport seemed to be engrained in every Americans life, male, female young and old.
The experience that helped me understand this was a college Le Cross game. Le Cross isn’t even one of the top sports in the US, however the home stadium in which we watched the game was better than most league two football stadiums in England. This is three leagues of the most prestigious sport in the UK and a second rate sport at college level in the US boasts better facilities and bigger crowds.
Obviously this is to do with the way colleges fund sport in America, but the fact that I could only sit there in awe, envious of the fact that such facilities were never on offer at to young people at home got to me.
Another outing was to an evening baseball game held Baltimore. At first I was surprised at how relaxed the atmosphere in the stands was, and although I had never seen a baseball game before, nothing was made of strolling in half and hour late, and others leaving early. It was an evening long affair and the lack of focus on the game amongst the group I attended with surprised me. Composed of a mix of boys and girls, it seemed as if this was more of a social gathering than the sports events I was used to attending at home.
It seemed as if the idea of attending a live sporting event was a as much a social event as a sporting one, and came without the fans must win attitude we are accustomed to in the UK, that results in so many staying away. It was a nice change seeing grandmas, granddads, mums and kids attending a live sporting fixture. In all it was an enjoyable evening and the Baltimore Orioles have become a regularly followed team ever since.
When you look from the outside it is amazed me how professional sports in America could make so much money. You here of these multi million dollar deals within sports we barely know anything about, but seeing how big a part sport plays in an Americans life, from school to retirement, you begin to understand how it is possible.