Unruh is a senior radio and sociology double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: For this article, studying the British culuture of sports, I will be referring to soccer as football as it is called in the Queen’s English and then will be refrring to NFL and college football as American football.
The act of sport: playing, coaching, doing and watching has its own collective meaning. Sports have their own particular weight of interest in each local setting, whether it be regionally, nationally or, of course, internationally. America has its big three (four if you really want to count hockey, but that’s more of a North American and Russian collective), baseball, American football and basketball. None of those matter in Great Britain. They are an afterthought.
Even though baseball is America’s pastime, the only baseball player any British person could name would be Babe Ruth. Thirty-one of the 32 NFL teams are included in Forbes magazine 2012 top earning sports clubs, but it would be a stretch for any British person to name one. Lastly, basketball, which is much more internationally renowned than the other two, is relevant every four years during the Olympics, which is about the equivalent of a four-year recurring “Turkey Tuesday” at Planet Sub. The Atlantic Ocean is a buffer that doesn’t allow for the crossover of sports between continents.
In general, Americans are spoiled with great sports and great sports coverage. But the coverage is wholly American sports centric, except for soccer/football. I obviously grew up American, and in the heart of the country as a Kansan. I’ve researched the history of many of these American sports, and obsess about most of them. I also grew up playing football, not American football, and began to follow leagues overseas such as the English Premier League, and the Spanish La Liga among others. I am knowledgeable about this worldly sport but am currently gleaning the sport of England, and the UK’s eclectic plethora of sports from the media, people and actual sport.
For a bit of background on the UK and its main sports, the most important are football, rugby, cricket, tennis, boxing and golf (Scotland is its birthplace). While there is some crossover to America with football burgeoning, tennis and golf, respectively, have been white rich folk TV fodder on Sunday afternoons in the spring for what seems like forever.
The most interesting point for America and the UK is that they reciprocate each other’s sports.
Football is a sport that is universally renowned. It isn’t just confined to one country as American football is. Recognition of football as a worldwide sport at the professional level is taken seriously by the media at a much higher level than back in the States. The States understand its popularity across the pond and are at an upward march to find it, but at least for the coming future will still play fifth or sixth fiddle to the big three. Herein lies the interesting notion behind British and UK fandom. The culture of football and high class sports are interminably ingrained in British culture. The people are happy with the tradition, and cultivating new sports from America or other places would be an extremely risky financial venture because of the indifference. The people know about American sports and some of its most popular athletes, but for the most part do not care. As Americans we know about soccer/football, but when it comes to cricket and rugby we are not as well versed. As a whole, America is always hungry for new sports and is hungry for new competitive ventures, which is in quiet contrast to the British sports culture of the norm.
Three thousand, four hundred and sixty-five miles separate New York City and London. Those 3,000-plus miles leave generalizations and stereotypes of culture to be lost across the waters of the Atlantic, and sports is one of many of these things that becomes bogged down between the once exiles of the British Empire and World War 2 Allies. Altogether, the exploration of British sport has only begun, and my intrigue has only been slightly piqued, letting me know I’ve only scratched the surface being here only one week and a half. Nevertheless, I bid you a good day as your Drake lives continue onward.