Do Sports Help Shape Your Identity?

Knowing who you are is important to self development and discovery. I believe that anything people are a part of helps to shape their identity one way or another.

By Mary E. from Royal Oak High School in Michigan

Nobody is the same. We all have our own opinion and values of what we think are important.  American Creed can be a very controversial topic, all depending on what you believe is a part of your identity. American Creed is your view of an American identity.  Liberty is an example of a value that most Americans would agree is important to their lives.  Activities and objects could also show a sense of American Creed.  I believe that sport is one of many topics that can contribute to the American culture.  For me, swimming is my american creed.  The sport itself and the environment that comes with it is important to me and builds part of who I am.  These feelings may apply to other people as well with their own sport.  Sports can be a symbol of American Creed because they can be considered an important part to the lives of many and help to shape identities.

As a symbol of American creed, playing a sport can allow people to do what they like and express their interests.  In an “Executive Summary- What Sport Means in America” posted by the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency (USADA), the article explains that sports offer many positive benefits to society. “Parents largely name positive personal and social values when describing their hopes for their children in playing sport. They hope that playing sport will teach their children to have fun, do their best, feel good about themselves, play fair, have respect for others, be part of a team, and be competitive in a good way.  Parents agree that sport meets these expectations.”  Sports can be a symbol of American creed because the lessons learned by participating in sport contribute to shaping the character and culture of America’s citizens.

As I mentioned before, swimming is my american creed.  I have been involved in competitive swimming for 8 years.  I swim year round and I absolutely love it.  Calling it my american creed might sound a little weird, so let me explain my thinking.  To me, american creed is personalized to every person. It is what makes up your identity as an american.  Swimming is a significant part of my life and I would definitely say that it largely contributes in shaping me to be the person I am.  It’s not just swimming itself though, it’s also the environment and the experiences that come with it.  Swimming is a very time consuming sport, it requires hard work and dedication.  I believe that swimming gives me those qualities.  The environment is also a reason it’s important to me because of my coaches and team.  We all get so close to each other throughout the season that they really are like my second family.  The good times and support I receive from my teams are unlike any other and I really value those relationships.  Because sports are such a popular pastime in America, the way I feel about my sport makes me think that other people might feel the same way about their own sport.  In a sense, the community of a team is like a nation and its citizens.  The sport is the nation where all the citizens, or team members, come together and influence each other to make a variety of people.  My sport is a symbol of my identity.

In other countries, sports are also important.  Most sports, such as ones created in Europe, influenced the creation of new sports in America.  In “A Study on the Birth and Globalization of Sports Originated from Each Continent,” the socio-cultural background, the globalization, and the characteristics of sports and martial arts originated from England and Europe, the Americas, and Asia were explored from a comparative perspective.  Soccer and rugby are two popular sports that originated in England.  “The baseball invented in America was the combination of various traditional British sports such as the cricket, the rounders, and the town ball; it employed the bat and ball to play the game… In the American way of thinking, the desire to devise and establish the national culture for the American people distinguished from the England sports clearly existed.  This was vividly revealed by the American football.”  What makes sports a symbol of american creed is the fact that most american sports are a combination or spin-off of existing sports.  The way I see it is, what's a better way to represent a country of people with all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds than games that they created together to make and add to their own identity as Americans?  America is a melting pot of mixed cultures and identities.  The sports created in America largely represent the country and it's citizens because the sports are created by the mixture of foreign influences, which make up the overall identity of Americans.

In conclusion, what makes a person’s american creed-- let it be symbolized by art, music, sport or any other activity-- is up to them. Baseball and football are two sports that Americans love. These sports bring people together to make memories of endless fun at games, cheering on the home team; and at tailgates and parties, getting into that team spirit. Participating in sports also contribute to the shaping of identities. For me, swimming teaches me that dedication is important when it comes to working hard; it also pays off in the long run. In addition, being a part of a team creates relationships that support one another. Characteristics that are taught through sport contribute to the overall identity of Americans and influence what we believe are important values.`

Royal Oak High School

AP Lang 2019

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