It is probably fair to say that professional sports is woven fairly tightly into the fabric of today's American society. This isn't to say that the entire nation is enamored with professional sports, but it has enough popularity and history that one could argue that it is a key piece of American culture. Granted, professional sports has not always been a part of our history and it is possible that someday it will not be nearly as popular as it is today. Still, sport has been around for thousands of years, and the Olympics continues to be a very popular event worldwide. Today, the professional sports franchise is an icon for some people and almost approaches deity status. People will arrange their schedules to watch major sporting events, even to the point of skipping work or other obligations. Here are a few thoughts on the impact professional sports have on American society.
We certainly accept spending money on professional sports. Every year, people spend tens, hundreds, or thousands of dollars to watch their favorite athletes in action. Corporations will spend six-figures to get a "luxury" box where they can watch and entertain clients. This has led professional sports to be a multi-billion dollar business. It has gotten to be so important to some people that cities will spend large amounts of tax dollars on stadiums, even when some billionaire owners could afford to buy the stadium themselves. The fact that athletes get paid millions of dollars to play what is essentially a kids game is not really a big deal to many. Granted, some people lament large salaries, particularly for poor performers, but it does not seem to bother them enough to skip the games.
Professional sports is also about pride, particularly civic pride. People will dress up as pigs, wear armor, paint their faces, and don all sorts of ridiculous outfits in order to cheer for their favorite franchise. It also brings out the best (and the worst) in terms of personal pride. People follow their teams sometimes almost to the point of obsession, which can lead to an unhealthy focus. Granted, it isn't the team's fault when people are unnecessarily competitive, but it does become a focal point.
Professional sports is also something that becomes a goal for people as they raise their children. While a small percentage of people actually become professional athletes, parents still treat their kids as if they are going to be the next "star". This has put a certain amount of pressure on youth sports, and has brought out some of the negative elements of competitiveness, particularly in parents.
Overall, professional sports is an aspect of our society that has both positive and negative elements. In positive settings it can unite people and build civic pride. In negative situations people can obsess, start fights, and allocate public funds that might be better spent on things like education, roads, and social services. Go team!