I guess on any basic level sport can be reduced to a sentence of primitive benign throwaway words – my beloved soccer is no more than 90 minutes of trying to kick a pig’s bladder between two sticks, but I have to admit to not finding a great thrill in trying to place a ball through a hoop. I was not particularly adept, which may have hampered my overall satisfaction of the experience, although I think I must have gained some points on a couple of occasions by hitting the white thing at the back.
It was then that I realized how American sports are designed to give more satisfaction and a greater chance of success and winning to the participants, than the sports I grew up with. For example, in basketball there is the white thingy to help aid the thrower to get the ball into the hoop; we play netball back home (it is the number one sport for high-school girls) - this game is similar to basketball, but the net or hoop sits alone at the top of a pole and is devilishly difficult to score in. I then thought of baseball, where the outfield players have a bucket on the end of one arm to catch the ball in; I was an accomplished cricketer back in my youth – cricket is a game played similarly with a bat and ball, and we had to catch the ball (close in size, speed, and weight to a baseball) with our bare hands. Then there is football, a sport where the participants wear all manner of protective clothing and a helmet; in rugby (a sport with as much physicality and contact) the most you might see is a gum shield - and even then you would be teased remorselessly by your team mates for it. My mind then turned to your oval NASCAR racing circuits, which I can compare to the demandingly, winding, undulating, curved, twisting, corner laden, testing, Formula 1 racing tracks back home.
This then perhaps differentiates between our mentalities as nations, could it be suggested that Americans like to experience the winning mentality more often, this is a culture where everyone who participates gets a trophy and with the Charlie Brown concept of if you are not winning or successful you fall outside of the framework of society - thus everyone is given more opportunity to be successful and the tools are provided in the sporting arena for you to be more successful. In Britain we have the self-deprecating mentality that it was the taking part that counts and we have a culture where finishing second is not so bad, because the best man won and we can all shake hands at the end and go and have a nice cup a tea and a slice of cake together and share in a common bemoaning of the weather - we applaud the Brit who broke his personal best time in the marathon at the Olympics, despite coming in 32nd (in any other country he would probably go home in shame).
Thus, after I had congratulated the opposition, I trudged off the court with the thought of a pot of hot earl grey tea and a large slab of sponge cake firmly implanted in my mind, as a handful of American teenagers whooped and did high fives behind me in the distance.