Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sports and Holidays

I was thinking this morning about the effect of sports on culture and religion. Of course, religion affects culture and often while wanting to influence will stand apart from culture. Islam does not like the culture of the West and at the same time wants to influence culture to make it conform to its principles.

At least three determinants affect culture: sports, education, and leisure.

Western Amman is markedly different from the Center and East Amman. The West is a wealthier community where the pace of life is much better organized and orderly. These people are the value shapers of the region. They are educated and have leisure time on their hands. A psychological great divide occurs between the two worlds.

The fall is a time when the baseball and soccer playoffs occur. American football has begun and the pre-seasons fro hockey and basketball have started. Football games are played on Sundays because this is traditionally the day people are resting and have some downtime on their hands. What is American Football was brought to the Middle East as Sunday is the first day of the work week? Hmmm.

Sports games are played on holidays so people can view them. What would happen if a game was scheduled during the Eid? Would more people watch or would people protest because the Eid was not upheld? Would more attention be given to a big matchup than to the religious holiday? Hmmm. The money generated by the games would certainly direct many activities and it would drive other businesses to get involved. National pride could swell if regional teams were competing and everyone wanted to buy a ticket to attend the games.

A sports culture would have a dramatic effect upon the Middle East. If you go to a sidewalk souk, you'll see Florida Marlin or Philadephia Eagles sweatshirts for sale. Other USA teams are recognizably available. The youth want them and they want to see a good competition. They want winners. With the Jordanian team almost qualifying for the World Cup, the city broke out into jubilant celebrations last month. Can the sports culture take ahold of the youth's consciousness? I think so.

I think of how powerful sports is at all levels of society in the USA. In high schools, it often becomes clear that a powerful sports program is given more time and money than academics. Summer leagues abound and semi-professional sports markets have a great niche. Double A and Triple A affiliates know how to make money and cultivate a community of good feeling.

As I mentioned in a previous post, a sports culture would help shape people from thinking only about "now" as we "wait til next year" for the start of the season.

Sports, with an increase of leisure time and reading, plus education can bring the culture into places unforeseen. It can be very exciting, but does this particular culture want to give its people enough freedom to enjoy it?

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