Baseball's Popularity in the U.S.
When people think of sports in the U.S.A., baseball almost always comes to mind first. In fact, there's actually an expression in American English to say that something is “as American as apple pie, Chevrolet or baseball.” Of course the meaning is that something is completely American in nature. This is really noteworthy since there are many other sports that people enjoy in the U.S.A. So why is baseball in particular so popular? And why is it so widely popular in the U.S.A? Why is it not very popular at all in other countries? This particular question is not an easy question to answer. Let's take a look at why baseball is so prized a sport to compete in and to enjoy in America.
One of the reasons that Americans love baseball has to do with the American love of “the underdog.” Americans love to root for “the little guy.” Everyone loves a good story where the hero wins against all odds. But since America is a country built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants, they have a particular appreciation for success due to sheer grit and exciting plot twists that include dramatic comebacks. Baseball lends itself to this type of thinking. Why can we say this? Well, baseball is the only sport where the winning team must continue to play the game to the end.
Every other sport allows some kind of time wasting activity to end the game if it seems one side has clearly won the game. For instance in hockey, a team can just skate around with the puck until the time is up. Not so with baseball. In baseball the winning team has to continue to play defense and pitch. This means that unexpected things can and do happen. In fact, baseball is a game where any team can make a comeback at the last minute. This leads to some very exciting games and surprising outcomes. Underdog-loving Americans think this is great! Even when the winning team ends up not being a team they personally favor or are loyal to, if the team made an amazing comeback at the last minute, Americans will respect the victory.
Then there is the glory of baseball. Baseball honors its heroes with style. Many baseball aficionado who are otherwise quite reticent, will wax poetic when speaking about Hall-of-Fame weekend. Since baseball players have quite long careers and the game itself is not really violent or hard on the body, many old timers are around and live to see themselves inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame. For fans who may have many happy memories watching these revered players in action, attending in induction ceremony is exciting and memorable in the extreme.
Another reason for their fervor, often mentioned by baseball fans, is that baseball is a game of statistics and analysis. Some fans get really into their favorite player's statistics in terms of how many hits per game, how many homeruns, etc. To those who enjoy this kind of thing, knowing the stats makes the game more exciting since they will have predictions about how games will turn out based on what they know about the players. Making the predictions and seeing how things turn out is a lot of fun for many baseball fans.
There may be other reasons Americans in particular love baseball. But probably to a certain extent, it’s the mix of how a culture and a sport have grown together, forever entwined. As a kid, playing catch with Dad is just part of American culture. And for many Americans, this leads to a long life love of baseball.