Appreciation and value of sports at American schools

Sports are a really important part of the culture of the United States. The four most popular team sports all developed in North America: American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. All enjoy massive media exposure.

In the United States sports are often associated with education, with most high schools and universities having organized sports. College sports competitions play a very important role in the American sports culture, because some athletes at colleges are more important than professional athletes.

In America, at least one in three high school students will participate in a team sport. The American educational system encourages field sports as a contribution to a well-rounded, healthy society. Sports are a form of competition that help to develop individuals physically, emotionally, socially and sometimes even financially.

For instance, people who usually cannot receive any money for a good education can be successful in sports and earn some money in that way.
Sports create unity between different people no matter what background they have.
Sports are also a social activity because students will learn about the history, rules, etiquette, scoring, skills, techniques, required equipment, equipment selection, uniforms or appropriate clothing, location and/or facilities, common injuries, and more.

Questions for this project:

– How do trophies represent the value and appreciation of sports in American schools?

People in America are extremely proud of the success they gain in any kind of sports. Sports represent their rank in their school and their reputation which depends on their success. Accordingly people want to show how successful they are. In America most of the people do this by presenting their trophies to others. On our way through Bartow-High-School we found hundreds of trophies, mostly in glass cabinets representing the achievements of the school. The more trophies a school owns, the higher is its esteem compared to other schools in America. Bartow High for example was and is very successful in Basketball and they won a lot of trophies. They are displayed in the school halls so everyone visiting Bartow High can immediately get an impression of their success.
Furthermore the BHS represent their pride through revealing the dates of victory in the stadiums.

– Can clothes of sports clubs be regarded as status symbols?

If a German student comes to an American high school it is conspicuous that most of the American students wear clothes with the name of the school and of the team or the club they belong to.

One of the biggest reasons for this is to show solidarity with their teams. Additionally the membership in some teams increases the popularity of any school students in school. For instance, the most popular teams are football and cheerleader teams. Members of those teams are very proud to be a part of them. Those who are on popular teams always show their membership through wearing clothes of the team. Consequently sports clothes are a kind of status symbol which is a contrast to German schools.
When you are walking through Bartow High you notice a lot of things related to the sport teams. One of the most obvious signs is the BHS water tower located close to the school on which it is written “City of Bartow- Home of Champions”. The text is supported by the school mascot “The Yellow Jacket”, a big bee holding a football.

– Does the membership in sport clubs influence the students’ rank and how many students have a membership?

Of course a membership represents that someone is taking part in a sports club, however it also creates a kind of social base. It does not matter where you grew up or what your social background is, being part of a team means that everybody is exactly the same in that club.
Teamplay, taking care and fairness are the main basis of a club and with a membership everyone agrees to act accordingly. Membership does not only mean that you take part in a sports club, it means that you take part in a team.
A membership in the football club, one of the most famous and popular clubs, extremely increases the reputation of the student and makes him a “different” person.
It is obvious that everyone who is involved in a sports club, has a higher reputation and rank in school than students who are not. However, you can get a good reputation through other activities, too.

– Are stadiums important?

Stadiums are the main objects that represent the sports clubs of the American schools. The more stadiums a school owns for different kinds of sports, the better its reputation is. Stadiums are a kind of social place where the team assemble and celebrate their success. Everybody gets together, like cheerleaders, football players and the band. Like in Germany there are bigger bleachers for the home team than for the guests. It is conspicuous for Germans that an American High-School has at least one stadium, usually for the football team and the cheerleader team.

– How does all this differ from sports in German schools?

The biggest difference is that in Germany the sports clubs are not integrated into school life whereas in America the clubs are always organized by schools. For instance, if you want to do any kind of sports in Germany you have to join a club without any connections to school.
Due to the fact that sport clubs in Germany are not connected to the schools, students are not able to increase their reputation in sports and they do not wear clothes of their favorite team or the team they belong to. One positive aspect in Germany is that no one will be excluded from a membership in a team. So it does not matter which team you are a member of because you only support the school.
In Germany there are also sports clubs which are connected to the school and have competitions against other schools. Those competitions do not have a high value and therefore do not have own places to exercise their sports.

Finally one can say that American schools identify themselves with the achievements of their students. German schools put their focus on the education of their students and physical education is less important.


Dominik Lay, Nils Pototzki, Malte Klingenberger and Tim Schroeder