National sport of America

Baseball is renowned to be the national sport of America. Evidence showed that it was difficult for people from different racial backgrounds to join in and play along as in the 1900s baseball was “…mostly played by American farm boys who were classified by their greatest barb, Ring Lardner, as barely literate” (Solomon, 1994, p.75). Clearly the difference in ethnicity did not aid the Jews in being accepted in America’s native sport, and those with talents but from a subculture can only watch the games in agony.

But the 1990s saw to the rise of players from other ethnic groups such as Japan and Korea and the club scouts of Major League Baseball (MLB) of the United States began their search of raw talents in these regions in the hope that they can further strengthen the team and that the signing of these players will attract more viewers from the globe to appreciate baseball. Japanese pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa made his Major League Baseball debut on May 1997 and is currently with the Seattle Mariners (Seattle Mariners Team, accessed 17 May 2003).

In the 21st century more clubs enlisted players from other subcultures. Another Japanese player, Ichiro Suzuki, signed with the Seattle Mariners on November 2000 and had set many records in 2002 such as the player with most hits in the first two MLB seasons (450). Korean infielder Hee Seop Choi joined Chicago Cubs in November 2001 and was the first Korean-born position player to appear in a major league game (Chicago Cubs Team, accessed 17 May 2003). With all these emerging talents discovered one can easily conclude that the future will follow this trend and many more players from different ethnic groups will participate in this American native sport that was once limited to be “yanks only”.

There are more solid evidences that support the statement of 21st century sporting scene clear of previous ethnical boundaries. Many would remember the historic moment when it was announced by the FIFA committee that the 2002 World Cup is to be co-hosted by Japan and Korea. Soccer had long been a popular sport but Asia never had the opportunity to contribute much to its glory. The decision of having the World Cup being hosted in an Asian region signifies the recognition the world showed towards their Asian rivalries and the increasing role Asia plays at the international level. South Korea finishing fourth was controversial but nonetheless it served as a signal of the equal competitiveness of Asian football regardless of ethnical limitations.

Equally controversial and eye catching is the 2000 Sydney Olympics where the world witnessed North Korea and South Korea marched into the stadium as one nation, with representatives of both provinces bearing the flag. Ever since the Korean War (1950-53) the two had been in a tense relationship and for them to march into a stadium under one flag would never seem possible. But the spirit of Olympics brought them together and Korea once again united to compete for its national title. As one can see 21st century sport acted as one of the key factors in influencing different ethnical beliefs to eliminate the barriers established beforehand.

There remain some minority sectors where people still put ethnicity in front of sport. Australian cricketer Darren Lehmann shouted out the words “black c—s” in the dressing room after being dismissed by the Sri Lankan team at a cricket match (Craddock, 2003, newspaper article) is but one example of this ‘minority’. However this incident only represents a minimal part of the entire Australian sporting scene and it certainly does not fit into the norms of Australian culture, evidence being Lehmann receiving a five-match suspension (from the International Cricket Council) as well as “public vilification”.

It is laudable that in 21st century the majority of athletes are not judged by their ethnicity anymore, but rather by their abilities and skill. This is mainly due to the positive environment promoted by modern commercialisation. As the mass media such as SBS or cable television providers like FoxTel continuously present the aesthetic qualities of athletes from different nations, regardless of their racial background, their audiences begin to appreciate the capability of these athletes and henceforth put aside the cultural differences.

Furthermore this will in turn encourage more participants from other sub-cultures and add more colour to the existing sporting scene. With the sporting society mostly rid of ethnical issues one can only hope that the other spheres of society will follow this lead and put an end to ethnical issues for the benefit of mankind.


Chicago Cubs Team, accessed 17 May 2003, Craddock, 2 February 2003, the Sunday Telegraph Discovering democracy – Cathy Freeman Bio, accessed 17 May 2003,

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