What does it mean to be an American? We all find ourselves asking that question a lot, especially lately. Our country is more divided now than it ever has been. If you were to ask the question of “what does it mean to be an American?” to ten people you would get a different answer every single time. We are experiencing a period in this country where we have a constant difference in opinion. It has become so severe that our president is constantly bashing and being bashed by the media, members of congress, and even the FBI. However there is one thing that both sides have in common. It is the very foundation of entertainment in America. The common denominator between the various different sides of the country? Sports and entertainment.
Sports and entertainment exemplify the power of teamwork, hard work, and fun. The one common thing between the various sides of the country is that they all love a good sports game and to be entertained. The reason sports are so important to the United States is right in the name. Unite. Sporting events and various entertainment events bring a sense of unity to the homefront. You have hundreds of thousands of people who all gather in stadiums all wearing the same colors packed right next to each other and rooting for the same team. At that point it matters not about political opinion but about the culture of the sport you are observing.
For the athletes that physically engage in sports it’s completely different. It’s an entire different world. It’s like being in some new universe where you don’t know what is going to happen but that’s what fuels you to play. It’s competing with and against your brothers and sisters. It’s sacrificing a part of yourself that there is room for new, better, growth. I’ve played sports my whole life. Some of the best friends I have came from me competing with and against them. You make connections with people that you never thought you would. You learn lessons that you thought you would never learn that are beyond sports. Dedication to a sport for athletes is where commitment and dedication comes into play for the rest of life.
In the film American Creed Joe Maddon (the manager of the Chicago Cubs) is interviewed and talks about how it doesn’t matter at about race, political beliefs or anything we use to judge or label people today. Put the kids together on a team, give them a goal, and all of those labels go out the window. This couldn’t be more true. When I’m engaged in a sport the last thing i’m thinking of is political beliefs of my teammate or their socioeconomic status. If you are labeling players while you are playing a sport, it’s likely that you aren’t as successful as someone who just puts there head down and plays. I’m thinking of how I can make the next play, help my teammates be successful, win, and how I can make my family and community proud.
What comes to your mind when you hear the words “American Pride”? I can tell you instantly what comes to my head. Standing at attention and looking towards our nation’s flag while the marching band plays our National Anthem. Chills run down my spine like a flowing river when the thought even crosses my mind. There’s a moment before every game where at one point I think to myself “Wow, win or lose, it sure feels good to be an American”. It is imperative that we recognize the freedoms we have as athletes and supporters of athletes to honor the ones that have given us the freedom to do our hearts desire.
Sports give athletes and fans the opportunity and privilege to express themselves as who they are not what the world says they should. Being involved in a sport, whether it’s cheering on your team or physically playing in the event, detaches you from reality and the world around you all of a sudden becomes as small as the stadium you are in. So what does it mean to be an American? Is it the physical actions you do each and every day? Is it the opinions and values you hold so dearly to you? Or is it the idea of standing for something greater than yourself? I believe it is each and every one of those core ideas that make up who we are as Americans. The reality is that no one person is the same and not everyone is going to have the same opinions as each other. It’s actually quite the opposite. But it’s never too late to start bring back the idea of unity to this country and a good way to do that is by engaging in sports and entertainment. Let us not have this nation move farther apart from itself, but closer to it’s unbelievable potential.
Gallup, Inc. “Sports.” Gallup.com, Gallup Inc, 29 Mar. 2017, news.gallup.com/poll/15421/sports.aspx.
Pentland, Alex "Sandy". “The Hard Science of Teamwork.” Harvard Business Review, Business Publishing, 23 July 2014,
American Creed. Citizen film and PBS. 2018.