How crazy are New Englanders when it comes to sports? How crazy are all of us, for that matter?
While Boston may be a bit manic about its pitchers and parquet flooring, more and more people throughout the United States are expressing a near-tribal affiliation to a particular sport, or, more particularly, to a sports team.
At a time when the economy is faltering, wars are raging, and the future seems worrisome on a good day, many are looking to sports as a source not merely of distraction, but of personal identification. It's gotten to the point where English may no longer be our official language. Sports might be.
We listen to it endlessly on talk radio. We chat about it over the cubicles at work. We push our kids into it when they are still in their Maclaren strollers. We spend vast amounts of money on everything from LeBron James jerseys to greens fees: The National Sporting Goods Association estimates that sports represents a $441 billion industry in the US – the same as the gross domestic product of Norway.
Nor are Americans alone in their passion. Consider any soccer match in Europe. Or the priest in Vancouver, British Columbia, who was asked if he would skip a Sunday mass that threatened to conflict with the US-Canada Olympic hockey face-off. No, said the priest – but he would wrap it up in 15 minutes.