U.S. Culture — страница 10

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both a spectator and participant sport. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hosts championships for men’s and women’s collegiate teams. Held annually in March, the men’s NCAA national championship is one of the most popular sporting events in the United States. The top men’s professional basketball league in the United States is the National Basketball Association; the top women’s is Women’s National Basketball Association. In addition, many people play basketball in amateur leagues and organizations. It is also common to see people playing basketball in parks and local gymnasiums around the country. Another major sport played in the United States is ice hockey. Ice hockey began as an amateur sport played primarily in the Northeast. The first U.S.

professional ice hockey team was founded in Boston in 1924. Ice hockey’s popularity has spread throughout the country since the 1960s. The NCAA holds a national collegiate ice hockey championship in April of each year. The country’s top professional league is the National Hockey League (NHL). NHL teams play a regular schedule that culminates in the championship series. The winner is awarded the Stanley Cup, the league’s top prize. Television transformed sports in the second half of the 20th century. As more Americans watched sports on television, the sports industry grew into an enormous business, and sports events became widely viewed among Americans as cultural experiences. Many Americans shared televised moments of exaltation and triumph throughout the year: baseball

during the spring and summer and its World Series in the early fall, football throughout the fall crowned by the Super Bowl in January, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) championships in the spring. The Olympic Games, watched by millions of people worldwide, similarly rivet Americans to their televisions as they watch outstanding athletes compete on behalf of their nations. Commercial sports are part of practically every home in America and have allowed sports heroes to gain prominence in the national imagination and to become fixtures of the consumer culture. As well-known faces and bodies, sports celebrities such as basketball player Michael Jordan and baseball player Mark McGwire are hired to endorse products. Although televised games remove the viewing public from

direct contact with events, they have neither diminished the fervor of team identification nor dampened the enthusiasm for athletic participation. Americans watch more sports on television than ever, and they personally participate in more varied sporting activities and athletic clubs. Millions of young girls and boys across the country play soccer, baseball, tennis, and field hockey. At the end of the 20th century, Americans were taking part in individual sports of all kinds—jogging, bicycling, swimming, skiing, rock climbing, playing tennis, as well as more unusual sports such as bungee jumping, hang gliding, and wind surfing. As Americans enjoy more leisure time, and as Hollywood and advertising emphasize trim, well-developed bodies, sports have become a significant

component of many people's lives. Many Americans now invest significant amounts of money in sports equipment, clothing, and gym memberships. As a result, more people are dressing in sporty styles of clothing. Sports logos and athletic fashions have become common aspects of people’s wardrobes, as people need to look as though they participate in sports to be in style. Sports have even influenced the cars Americans drive, as sport utility vehicles accommodate the rugged terrain, elaborate equipment, and sporty lifestyles of their owners. Probably the most significant long-term development in 20th-century sports has been the increased participation of minorities and women. Throughout the early 20th century, African Americans made outstanding contributions to sports, despite being

excluded from organized white teams. The exclusion of black players from white baseball led to the creation of a separate Negro National League in 1920. On the world stage, track-and-field star Jessie Owens became a national hero when he won four gold medals and set world and Olympic records at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. The racial segregation that prevented African Americans from playing baseball in the National League until 1947 has been replaced by the enormous successes of African Americans in all fields of sport. Before the 20th century women could not play in most organized sports. Soon, however, they began to enter the sports arena. Helen Wills Moody, a tennis champion during the 1920s, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias, one of the 20th century’s greatest women athletes,