Sports serve as metaphors for our inner psychological lives because they serve as role models on the outside.
A well-functioning society cannot function without sports because cultures express themselves through them. Communities are united on a macro scale, while individuals' families and close friends are united on a micro scale.
When it comes to work, there's a clear connection between sports and the work itself. The sports we participate in change as our work schedules do. As a result, the last century in American history can be divided into three distinct periods: baseball and the factory era, football era, and basketball era.
What is the starting point for these societal changes?
Media changes are the first step in a society's evolution. When radio and television were invented, baseball and football grew in popularity. Today, social media is helping to increase basketball's popularity.
The game of baseball used to be the social hub of the United States, earning the moniker "America's pastime." One thing at a time happens in baseball. Players are organised like a factory, with predetermined roles and specialised tasks delegated to them (pitchers, right fielders, shortstops, etc.). The importance of maintaining order is paramount throughout the game. When baseball was at its pinnacle, mass production defined American work. A nation's rise as a global power was propelled by highly efficient factories. The leisurely pace of baseball made it perfect background noise for long work days on the radio, and radio helped Americans form a tight, tribal-like bond.
However, the decline of baseball was sparked by the rise of television in the 1950s and 1960s. Baseball played at a pace that was incomprehensibly slow for cable television viewers. Despite this, football's high-intensity pace and high-energy nature made it an ideal fit. As television technology advanced, so did football, with features such as instant replay, slow motion, and graphics.
Football's post-World War II rise to fame altered the nature of work. During the war, the United States had proven its military might and solidified its position as a global economic power.
Because of this, as William Whyte argues in The Organization Man, American values have shifted away from individualism and towards collectivism. Working in a corporation was more dynamic than working in a factory, and office workers had more freedom. It's no different in football; players have to plan their movements ahead of time to stay in sync with the rest of the team.
The American way of life evolved along with it. American television provided a platform for the export of its culture and for the expansion of the country's global hegemony. The United States had grown into a global power and required a new national sport to reflect that. Football, according to David Walker, exemplifies American exceptionalism, as well as the country's global clout and cultural disregard for subtlety.
The popularity of fantasy football contributed to the growth of the game's dominance. Through the process of drafting and "owning" players for an entire season, fans had a compelling reason to tune in to every game, even when their favourite team wasn't playing. However, in today's society, which is characterised by the rise of social media, individuality is rewarded, and football helmets discourage it.
Football's demise will be aided in the coming decades by cultural and technological shifts, as hinted at by the helmet. Football's Achilles heel is symbolised by the helmet, which turns players into gladiators. Football's violence, as well as the resulting brain damage it causes, are now disadvantages among Millennials, who are overwhelmingly pro-humanism.
Football will be harmed by the shift in viewership from television to social media, but basketball will benefit because of it.