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Baseball as a Voice for American Patriotism

Since ancient times, patriotism was one of the main features of American society reflected in its bravery and courage. Americans support and keep their unique beliefs and values as the main element of cultural identity and unique traditions. Since the beginning of the 20th century, baseball became extremely popular in America By the turn of the 20th century the pattern of baseball is set. The development of baseball leagues, banded together for a common purpose, has been the pattern from the outset. Today ‘new’ baseball emerges in much the same way as the ‘old’ baseball, albeit often with financial assistance from public authorities. Baseball culture is closely connected with patriotism as it reflects the main values, ideals, and hopes of the American nation, its historical and social traditions

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Baseball is American is a national game popular among all social classes and cultural groups. Factories, offices, and social agencies between WWI and WWII included sections in their social activities and thus, the base from which national baseball teams were selected, was significantly widened as leagues, cup competitions, and a wide range of ‘representational’ benefits at city, town and county levels emerged. Baseball retained the social image of American origins, whilst others developed a more working-class ethos. “Baseball itself was brought to San Francisco from New York City by young tradesmen and mechanics who came West to follow their callings” (Tamony 267). This pattern was to remain until late into the 20th century and vestiges still exist today (Curlee 43).

Probably the most important factor responsible for the patriotic nature of a broader base to most across the spectrum of community is the desire for international baseball success. The political climate of the USA affects how baseball is organized and developed. “Because nationalism and patriotism share the feature of positive in-group evaluation and pride, they are positively correlated both conceptually and empirically” (Li and Brewer 728). Baseball has become a political game with global tensions and disputes having their repercussions, often profound, on international baseball which is why the appeal “to keep politics out of baseball” is immature in the extreme (Curlee 76).

The movie Take Me Out To The Ballgame vividly portrays that during the 20th-century baseball was a part of the social order of society and politics is very much about ‘social order’; how people wish to live and organize their affairs. Until the 1940s the US government played little or no part in baseball; by the mid-1960s some believed baseball played too large a part and that, in effect, baseball had become an instrument of foreign policy. Standards of the provision in baseball were set for playing fields and schools and thus the framework was established for the post-War generation to enter adulthood having had a thorough grounding in physical education and baseball. “While baseball purists would quibble with a point or two, the elemental conflict between the pitcher and batter rings true to anyone who has enjoyed the game” (Regan 1997, p. 97). The narrower concept of baseball and other national games was rapidly expanded into the broad physical recreational field, and schools were soon to include in their plans a wider range of activities including what became known as ‘outdoor games such as sailing, climbing, pot-holing, canoeing, fell-walking, scouting and expeditions (Curlee 87).

Patriotism is reflected in the extreme popularity of baseball adopted by all educational institutions and establishments. Local education authorities, and indeed private schools developed outdoor activity agencies in the wilder and more rugged areas of the country, and parties of schoolchildren used these in term and during the holidays, often mixing physical activity with main studies. “Thus, ingroup identification and loyalty are associated with valuing distinctiveness and ingroup superiority over outgroups. Under these conditions, we would predict that heightened patriotism (national identification) would be associated with heightened nationalism and less tolerance for internal diversity” (Li and Brewer 729). As a greater degree of material comfort percolated down in the USA baseball became popular and large parties from schools of all types found their way to organize baseball games, During the 1960s, the coverage of international and national baseball events increased radically in quantity and quality as media technology advanced and this continues today with satellite coverage of baseball through new and existing channels. With digital television now in virtually every home, programs and events are watched by an increasing number of people (Curlee 98).

Voices are heard calling for a new look at the structure of American baseball, many having seen and witnessed developments in other states. The concept of Mafia baseball gained ground; the belief that baseball had a larger role to play in society is debated, and underlying it all the thoughts that the American state should be in some way more involved are entering the minds of administrators. For the national governing bodies of baseball, the results are to enhance their capability to develop, expand and compete with the new challenges now seen in the baseball arena. For the public at large, there is to be, for the first time, a formal recognition that the American nation has a responsibility to provide opportunities for the community to participate in baseball and physical recreation.

To go forward to a new age with new structures and increasing public finance, or standoff and continue to walk the same road of those who gave the baseball to the world, reflected in the true ethos that forms the very basis of fair play and pleasure through activity-this is the essence of the baseball patriotism. Once again baseball is faced with the social and national ideals and environments in which it has been practiced and it is on this basis that the next steps are taken. Traditional baseball continued to attract considerable attention but other recreational affairs are not standing still. The huge growth of outdoor activities, whilst welcomed usually, brought its special problems. Critics explain that: “National identity in the form of essentialist ingroup pride/superiority should produce relatively high correlations between ratings on patriotism and nationalism scale items, as well as a negative relationship between patriotism and tolerance for diversity (i.e., an exclusive definition of American identity)” (Li and Brewer 730).

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At the regional and federal levels, baseball leagues recognize the value of banding together in some common forum; they are not only able to elect their representatives to serve on baseball players but can speak and act authoritatively. In this way, the baseball leagues are established as democratic, voluntary bodies capable of wielding enormous influence by including many of the major ‘names’ in baseball amongst their membership. At the purely local level local, advisory councils spring up in increasing numbers. These are councils of representatives of the local authority and the local clubs. Such local groups prosper in many areas and withered in others, often to reappear after an interval. This structure of baseball in American reflects that: “when national identity is primarily based on shared ingroup attachment, however, this should be reflected in the relatively lower correlation between patriotism and nationalism, and less negative relationship between patriotism and acceptance of internal diversity” (Li and Brewer 730). The local baseball leagues articulate the hopes of the local communities by creating a lobby for facilities, running coaching courses, inter-town events, festivals of baseball, the personality of the year contests. The following lines vividly describe the interest and popularity of baseball in America:

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;

Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip” (Thayer n.d.).

As the most important, baseball is accepted in American by the state and supported by the national government. To some extent, the popularity of baseball is caused by the rejection of other games, especially football considered a communist kind of sport. During the Cold war period, the American government-financed baseball organizations and leagues to create a national game accepted by all Americans. It is interesting to look back and recognize the understanding of those who develop these procedures and this policy; they exist today only marginally modified in the light of knowledge. Spectator continues to decline football in watching popularity; this decline taking its origin from the 1950s.

Whether those who no longer watched began to play, or whether the changing social pattern of society took them into other activities, is not known as no records exist. A particularly far-sighted decision is to agree with a government-financed program for funding attendance of approved baseball delegates to baseball events overseas to include coaches, technical officials, academics, and other experts in the broad field of baseball, studies, science, and physical education. The broad trends started in the 1960s, continued through the 1970s and into the 1980s to an amazingly consistent degree allowing for variations as new such as sail-boarding gain in popularity and an old established baseball suddenly found itself with tens of thousands of new players using the very many new courts provided at public centers, private clubs and by profitable operators (Curlee 98).

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Baseball reflects internal desires and the spirit of community typical for many Americans. The increasing demand is being met by public authorities, public organizations, business enterprises, and by people themselves. Baseball has become accepted as a major element of social policy and is talked about and written about in the press, radio, and on television. After the events of 9/11, baseball features in the financial sections of the newspapers as leisure, and many public and private companies are in that business. The stress is now very much on identifying and meeting the needs of people as defined by them and not simply supplying more of what is provided before. The range of initial baseball schemes is impressive and included the provision of synthetic-surfaced play areas, floodlighting of existing playing environments, and conversions of existing facilities for use by the local society. Following Edelman, “throughout film history, the myth of the idyllic American boyhood has been a constraint in baseball movies” (Edelman 167).

Whilst no claims are ever made that this scheme would eliminate violence and hooliganism associated with football spectators baseball is an imaginative way of harnessing clubs to the communities they purport to represent and at the same time added to the supply of much needed local facilities in densely populated urban locations. By the 1980s baseball facility development in the inner cities via special programs are well underway and attracting grant-in-aid from the Baseball league as a result of policy thrusts. Hand in hand with this policy is the determination to provide centers where national teams and squads, at every stage of growth, could train and prepare in the best likely conditions.

It would be an error to believe nothing hitherto existed capable of staging baseball competition; many have facilities available to them which are capable of providing venues for international competition but expectations are rising year by year. Priority, therefore, is given to those that do not have a facility capable of baseball use, with a further priority given to those baseball facilities that needed, not only a face-lift, but often fundamental modifications to modernize to the required international specifications and standards For the American population, there is: “the need to consider sports and other social competition in terms of changing notions of personhood and community identity in tribal and transegalitarian societies” (Hill and Clark 344).

Today, baseball is tacitly accepted that the majority of governing bodies of baseball are not capable of generating sufficient finance from their membership to allow them to compete with differences in international competition at the various levels that are being increasingly established by international federations. On the international scene not only is increased financial assistance needed to send teams baseball overseas more often but it is also needed to ensure that when they do travel they were well prepared. The state authorities provided playing spaces, public golf courses, swimming pools, and a few running tracks, whilst private clubs for tennis, cricket, hockey, and rugby are established in every city and town throughout the land. The growth of drill in elementary schools, physical training in the state grammar schools, associated with baseball games coaching often based on the public school system, introduced increasingly a wider range of citizens to baseball. “This construal can be exploited by leaders who see political advantage in mobilizing nationalistic sentiments in the name of patriotism” (Li and Brewer 737).

The patriotic nature of baseball grows considerably, while the demand for more indoor facilities for baseball grows faster still, fuelled by the widening of the physical education syllabuses in schools as gymnasia and the new halls give greater choice of activity. The baseball planning is over for the time being; now is the time for action and the baseball league, together with the governing bodies of baseball at national, regional, and county levels, in cooperation with the local authorities are balanced. Today, the objectives in attempting to achieve these baseball aims are many and various.

Special emphasis has been placed on particular objectives over the years with specific planning aimed at particular target groups such as the disabled, the family. It is interesting to observe that all but two or three aims are defined in the 1990s, most in the early part of the decade, which points to the somber fact that probably not as much thinking, nor drive, was applied in the late seventies and early eighties until the strategy for 2000, “One implication of these findings is that building patriotic American identity based on shared common goals and purposes is more desirable for a pluralistic society than focusing on similarities of culture and heritage” (Li and Brewer 737). Many factors contributed to more people taking part in baseball in such as increased car ownership, longer holidays, the shorter working week, greater affluence, and the growth of more and better facilities (Rader 11).

Baseball for the nation catches the mood of the times and gives a focus to the considerable social changes that are taking place in American society. Figures concerning participation can be unreliable but there can be no doubt that the number of citizens taking part in baseball and physical recreation increased considerably. Women’s clubs remained approximately the same in number but the number of girls’ clubs in private schools rose sharply. Baseball unions show a rise in the number of clubs whereas tennis showed a decline. Whilst these events represent clear trends the statistics can confuse as well as inform. Descriptive of this point is the fact that in the 1990s baseball clubs merged to form bigger clubs and the record does not show whether this type of growth led to a greater or lesser number of players. Likewise, existing baseball clubs often form more teams to take account of demand and this development will not be shown in the bare ‘growth of clubs’ statistics (Rader 101).

In sum, baseball is a voice of American patriotism as its growth is considerable and followed by the general increased interest shown in schools in the sixties. The provision of sports grounds, more centers, and a wealth of small locations, often associates with specific activity clubs give the increased local opportunity to those seeking a venue for their baseball activity. Whilst increasingly there is considerable objective evidence available pointing to greater participation in baseball, it is not until the 1970s that an overall review of the success or otherwise of baseball for all policies took place. Baseball reflects the national inspirations and values of the nation, its ideals, and a unique spirit of national unity. Baseball is a voice of the nation as it joins people from different social classes together and appeals to the emotions and feelings of the whole nation.

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Works Cited

Curlee, L. Ballpark: The Story of America’s Baseball Fields. Aladdin, 2008.

Hill, W.D., Clark, J. E. Gambling, and Government: America’s First Social Compact? American Anthropologist, New Series. 103 (2), (Jun., 2001), pp. 331-345.

Li, Q., Brewer, M. B. What Does It Mean to Be an American? Patriotism, Nationalism, and American Identity After 9/11.” Political Psychology. 25 (5), (Oct., 2004), pp. 727-739

Edelman, R. “Politics, Patriotism, and Baseball On-Screen.” Baseball and American Culture. New York Press, 2002, pp. 163-177.

Regan, F. S. The Mighty Casey: Enduring Folk Hero of Failure.”. Journal of Popular Culture; Summer 1997 (31), pp. 91-109 ProQuest Social Science Journals.

Rader, B. G. Baseball (2d ed.): A History of America’s Game (Illinois History of ). University of Illinois Press; 2 edition, 2002.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame (1949). Dir. By B. Berkeley, Warner Home Video, 2000.

Tamony, P. “Sandlot Baseball.” Western Folklore. 27 (4), (Oct., 1968), pp. 265-269.

Thayer, E. Casey at the Bat. N.d. Web.

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