Sports are a popular source of entertainment that date back to the ancient world. Nowadays, sports are just as popular as ever, as there is a countless amount of sports played and watched all around the world.
Only one sport can be the best, however, and that sport is baseball. I could talk about America’s national pastime forever, but for the sake of this argument, I will be focusing on three aspects: time, cultural impact and the inherent message that baseball provides.
Time is a very broad subject that allows me to really talk about anything. I could mention that baseball is America’s national pastime due to its historical significance and impact in this country that other sports don’t have. That is not going to be my focus in this point, however, primarily because that limits the scope of this sports discussion to just the United States. Instead, I will be discussing time limits in sports.
Out of the five major sports – baseball, American football, soccer, basketball and hockey – baseball is the only one to not be controlled by a clock. While there have been some minor changes made to speed up the game, baseball is still the only sport that isn’t won by time.
Take basketball for example. You have four quarters at twelve minutes each, totaling forty-eight minutes. Baseball doesn’t work that way. Instead, you have nine innings, which are split into half-innings. The end of the inning isn’t determined by time, it’s determined by outs.
One benefit of the lack of a time limit is that it protects baseball from a common issue that plagues most of the major sports. Often times, the final minute of a game will take closer to 30 minutes due to, in the case of basketball, constant timeouts and fouls. Another benefit is that it removes time as a factor and allows for more freedom in the game. This allows for a bit more of a relaxed environment where players are able to play at their own pace. Some people may find this boring, but I would much rather time not factoring into the result of the game – I find it more exciting when games are won solely by the efforts players or teams, not by time being a factor.
Baseball has also had a cultural impact that other sports simply haven’t. If we are talking about media, most of the greatest sports movies are about baseball: “The Sandlot,” Oscar-nominated “Moneyball,” “Field of Dreams,” “42,” “A League of Their Own.” I could go on and on. While “Space Jam,” “Kicking and Screaming,” “The Mighty Ducks” and “Remember the Titans” are all enjoyable films, baseball leads in terms of quantity and quality. Baseball also leads in songs, as John Fogerty’s song titled “Centerfield” is an absolute jam.
More important than songs or movies, baseball has also been significant for the civil rights of different racial/ethnic minorities, especially here in the U.S. We all know the tale of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier for African Americans, but players from Latin America, who were also overlooked, had an opportunity to break their own barrier in baseball.
While people working within baseball often tried to keep these players down, which slowed down the process and contributed to the forces causing all the injustice in the first place, baseball itself presented discriminated people with a chance to overcome these obstacles and boost their respective civil rights movements. This has occurred within other sports as well, but in terms of the civil rights movements in the U.S., baseball has had the biggest impact as it was the most popular sport in the country during those eras.
Ever since I was young, I have struggled to deal with failure. I don’t like to fail – nobody really does, but it’s unavoidable. The problem for me was that I didn’t know how to deal with it. Baseball is inherently filled with failure, and that helped me to learn how to deal with it.
Think about it: A batter who fails roughly ⅔ of the time is considered a great batter and is often voted to be an all-star. An all-star in baseball is someone who fails more than they succeed. That is a great message to kids, as it teaches them that failing is part of life. It is how you move past and overcome that failure that is important.
I would like to address one of the largest criticisms of baseball, the idea that baseball is boring. I would agree with this statement in the sense that baseball isn’t as flashy as American football or as high-scoring as basketball. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that baseball is boring.
There is plenty within baseball to keep even the fans with the shortest attention span entertained. Home-runs, possibly the most exciting part of any baseball game, are being hit at a rate higher than ever before. Benches-clearing brawls, despite being a showing of poor sportsmanship, are common enough to entertain fans looking for drama. Individual ballparks also have different forms of entertainment – hot-dog cannons, condiment race, etc. – that other sports often don’t have that is a great way to keep fans at the ballpark entertained.
I could talk about baseball for days, and while I am certainly a little bit biased, I believe that baseball is the best sport. Some of my greatest memories come from the game of baseball. It is more slow-paced than other sports and not quite as flashy, baseball has a certain charm to it that other sports can’t match. My favorite movie quote comes from Brad Pitt, who played Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball. Pitt says “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball,” and I couldn’t agree more.