Keep baseball America’s national pastime op-ed, Barnstormers

Baseball is a great game that has shaped our country’s history and culture. Here, in this composite image, the Lancaster Barnstormers play at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.” — Historian Jacques Barzun

Baseball is important to the history and culture of America and it needs to remain a part of the U.S. sports scene. Baseball is a national pastime, it helps bring together different cultures in America, and it signifies that America as a country needs to work together as a team to accomplish its goals.

However, according to Juliette Love of The New York Times, “Major League Baseball and its fans have raised alarms in recent years over a perceived decline in the popularity of baseball in the United States. Falling attendance, poor World Series ratings and a lack of nationally recognized stars are often cited as evidence of the sport’s impending collapse.”

While any such prediction may be premature, it is important that interest in baseball does not decline, but instead, grows. Baseball can transform America.

“This Game is closely tied to us in a very personal way, but what you may not realize is how much it is also tied to history,” the National Baseball Hall of Fame website notes. “Often referred to as America’s National Pastime, baseball has had a very active role in the shaping of this nation.”

There are many family traditions and memories built around the sport, such as standing for the seventh-inning stretch and watching, or playing, baseball on the Fourth of July. As well as being a multigenerational event, it can also be a mixed societal and mixed culture game.

“Immigration has been a major story in America over the last two decades, but a big force in baseball longer than that,” noted the blog of the George W. Bush Institute. “With each succeeding decade, the game has become more of a global enterprise and shows how open arms to people beyond America’s shores can enhance an operation.”

The sport plays a key role in introducing and accepting new cultures in America. Baseball has recruited players from countries including Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Japan, Mexico and Canada. Bringing together cultures is important in this country, but it is also important that everyone can work together to achieve goals.

Baseball displays how America as a country needs to work together as one. In a 1981 column for The New York Times, Ira Berkow noted that Jacques Barzun believed baseball, and the teamwork of baseball, once expressed the unification of America.

Baseball as a sport shows how America should be as a country. America should return to teamwork to meet its goals and dreams. People should start to view problems more as a unit and not split into divisive groups to deal with problems. Baseball can be a model for the type of collaboration we need.

Baseball is an icon of American culture. It is a game that can bring all different types of people together, and portrays how we as a country should work together. Barzun was correct in his quote that the society and culture of America can always be represented by our national pastime, baseball.

Support the game of baseball by heading out to a game when it returns this spring. “Play ball!”

Jason Schlegelmilch is in grade 11 at Conestoga Valley High School.

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