Understanding American Sports

Understanding American Sports

Understanding American Sports

Understanding American Sports


Since the nineteenth century the USA has served as an international model for business, lifestyle and sporting success. Yet whilst the language of sport seems to be universal, American sports culture remains highly distinctive. Why is this so? How should we understand American sport? What can we learn about America by analyzing its sports culture?

Understanding American Sportsoffers discussion and critical analysis of the everyday sporting and leisure activities of 'ordinary' Americans as well as the 'big three' (football, baseball, basketball), and elite sports heroes. Throughout the book, the development of American sport is linked to political, social, gender and economic issues, as well as the orientations and cultures of the multilayered American society with its manifold regional, ethnic, social, and gendered diversities.

Topics covered include:

  • American college sports
  • the influence of immigrant populations
  • the unique status of American football
  • the emergence of women's sport in the USA

With co-authors from either side of the Atlantic, Understanding American Sportsuses both the outsider's perspective and that of the insider to explain American sports culture. With its extensive use of examples and illustrations, this is an engrossing and informative resource for all students of sports studies and American culture.


The United States of America occupies the central portion of the North American continent. It extends across four time zones from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west. It comprises forty-eight contiguous states of various sizes, as well as the large peninsula of Alaska, adjacent to northwestern Canada, and the islands of Hawaii, located in the mid-Pacific Ocean. (Alaska and Hawaii entail two additional time zones.) It covers an area of 3,718,685 square miles or 9,631,420 square kilometers (Essential World Atlas 2001, vi; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States).

The population of the United States exceeded 300,000,000 in 2006, most of whom lived in urban metropolitan areas. The United States has nine cities with an excess of 1,000,000 inhabitants, and four of its cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston) are considered global centers, cities which serve as commercial, technological, and transport hubs in the world economic system (Abu-Lughod 1999). The East Coast is the most densely populated area of the country; although there has been an increasing movement to the warmer climate of the south and west (known as the Sun Belt) over the last generation.

A nation of immigrants, the United States has a diverse racial and ethnic population. More than 74 percent of the population (215,300,000 people) identify themselves as white with German, Irish, and Anglo ancestry predominant; while 14.5 percent (41,900,000) claim Hispanic heritage; although some Hispanics identifying themselves as white. African-Americans or blacks comprise 12.1 percent of the population (34,900,000); AsianAmericans 4.3 percent (12,500,000); Native Americans 0.8 percent (2,400,000); and Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders make up 0.1 percent (400,000). A small percentage claim a mixed race ancestry. The largest number of immigrants in the past decade came from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines (Wills 2005; http;//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ United_States).

Owing to the particular historical evolution of the country, both race and religion remain major factors within American society which influence values, politics, and lifestyles decisively. Almost 80 percent of Americans profess to being Christians. Of the many Christian denominations, Catholics claim 25.9 percent of the population, while a wide variety of . . .

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