Why Baseball is No Longer America’s Pasttime
Baseball, more than any other sport, integrates mind and body – and taxes each significantly. This is the primary reason why baseball has declined in popularity – to only be one sport amongst many – and lost the position that it enjoyed in the past as America’s premier sport. This decline coincides with the increasing disintegration of the American character, and thus the polarization of American culture.
The “jocks” in this commercial, fifty or seventy-five years ago, would have been considered normal young men. Today, “jocks” are practically expected to be uninterested in using their minds (beyond what is absolutely necessary) – just as today’s “nerds” are not expected to be interested in using their bodies. In that earlier epoch, “nerds” and “jocks” didn’t exist in the numbers they exist in today. Instead, “people” existed.
The phenomenon of mind-body disintegration presents itself in politics as well. Today, there are basically two political personalities one can assume: either the short-ranged, unprincipled, pragmatic brute – who believes that “doing something” is always the solution – or the pretentious, “principled” idealist – who’s ideas need not reflect reality and be beneficial in every day life since he is insulated from the consequences in places like academia and the intelligensia.
It is not a coincidence that in America’s heyday – in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – at a time when America was populated by men who were closer to the Ancient Greek ideal of men – that a sport like baseball was their chosen past time. They were more put off and less attracted to sports such as football and soccer, which more closely resembled the collectivism and pressure-group warfare of today’s cultural landscape. It seemed alien to them because, while things like cooperation and physical strength were important to them, intellectual competence, individual achievement, and specialized skills combined with those things were seen as the defining characteristics of the American man. Baseball, more than any other sport, is the reflection of that.