What Do Sports Mean To The United States?

Micah SecorCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2008

With the Summer Games fast approaching in Beijing, athletes from hundreds of countries will compete in various competitions for gold medals and national pride.

But everyone in America has read plenty on the Olympics through the SI and ESPN magazines, as the hype continues to build.

Don't worry, I'm not going to try to paraphrase half of the Olympic Preview in the SI magazine and post it in this article, like many other writers on Bleacher Report and pretend that I'm something else when it comes to covering the Olympics.

It's a question that arose in my mind when I was in France for the last month.

You could not drive by a couple of streets without seeing a soccer field, and rightfully so.

Soccer is the iconic sport that dominates France, and it holds a deep meaning to the people.

So I began to wonder, What do sports mean to the United States as a whole?

While pondering this simple yet profound question, I had the opportunity to play a couple of baseball games with a team in one of the few city baseball leagues in France.

I greatly enjoyed myself as I played a new style of baseball in France with players who worked their tails off.

You may be laughing right now as you are thinking, "Baseball in France, you've got to be joking me."

That's what I thought when I stepped on the field, but I was quickly proven wrong.

What these ballplayers lacked in talent, they made up for it with hustle and determination.

I came away impressed and enjoyed my time there.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that sports are a significant part of American culture, and they should not be taken for granted. It is a privilege to be able to play sports and enjoy them.

I went on to Paris and gawked at the Eiffel Tower with millions of other tourists there and took in the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame.

For the record, people in America bemoan the gas prices; in France, it costs over $10 a gallon! Don't even get me started on the food prices.

It was then on to Normandy, where I saw the beaches where the Allied soldiers mounted one of the largest invasions in Modern history on D-Day, and the cemetery honoring the soldiers who laid down their life for America.

It was a sobering experience, as over 27,000 American soldiers died in the Normandy invasion.

Next time you complain over some petty little issue and think its not fair, remember that those soldiers died so that you could have freedom in America today.

This includes the freedom to play and enjoy sports.

Sports allow us to decompress and relax after a hard day at work.

In the case of many employed Americans with desk jobs, sports help pass the time at work.

Year after year, millions of fans around the country root for their teams, hoping for that elusive Championship for their beloved club.

Only one lucky team will be left standing, causing the rabid fan base to erupt into a state of euphoria and create lasting memories.

There is the popular trifecta of sports in America that garner the bulk of the attention, football, baseball, and basketball that correspond through the cycle of seasons.

Hands down, football is the most popular. Ask any American and they will say the same thing; it just doesn't get any better than a quality football game on Saturday and Sunday.

The College Football or NFL which-is-better debate can be saved for another day. In my mind, they're both great.

For athletes around America, sports is an escape from the stress of life. The hope of playing professional sports one day captures the minds of all boys.

There are two types of athletes in America: Casual and serious.

Casual athletes play occasionally for fun with their friends at the park and join the basketball team at school to be with their best friends. Rest assured, casual athletes definitely know how to have a good time.

On the other hand are the serious athletes. They use the small hope of playing professionally and their love for the game to fuel them through rigorous training, day after day, week after week, until the long-awaited season arrives. They finally have a platform where their hard work pays off, and they can finally prove themselves.

For me, there is no set favorite sport to watch; I enjoy each sport that comes along with the seasons.

So, next time you relax on the couch, pop open an ice-cold can of soda or beer, dig into the buffalo wings and chips and enjoy a Sunday afternoon football game, take a moment to appreciate the fact that sports are an essential part of our country that everyone can partake of and enjoy.