American exceptionalism

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Adapted from a political analysis of the USA's foreign policy stances, and insightfully developed by Andrei S. Markovits, the notion of American exceptionalism in sport highlights the cultural distinctiveness of the Big 4 sports in USA sport space, and the relative marginality of what is widely seen as the world's most popular sport—soccer—in that sport space. Historian Eric Hobsbawm (Age of Extremes, 1995) wrote that in ‘the field of popular culture the world was American or it was provincial’ but with one exception: ‘The unique exception was sport’. The ‘genuinely international’ sport of (soccer) football ‘made its way through the world entirely on its merits’, but not in the USA. The specifically US-based sports of American football, baseball, and basketball, and the North American sport of ice hockey, did not become as widely adopted as soccer, thus further supporting the notion of an American exceptionalism in the sphere of sport. The analysis has been challenged by numerous theorists, and remains controversial as a theory, in that in relation to sport it can be argued that baseball derived from cricket, and it can be shown that football (soccer) is widely popular in the USA, though occupying a different cultural space from that occupied by the Big 4.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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