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Patrick Hruby

Atlantic Sports Roundtable: what's the most American sport?

Hulk Hogan had a theme song: "Real American." So which sport deserves the same honor? In a Fourth of July-week edition of the Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we debate:

Hampton Stevens: ... the Most American Sport has to be what Fitzgerald called one of "our nervous and sporadic games." That leave NASCAR out, too—despite having the most unflinchingly patriotic fans. Baseball has long been lumped with Mom and Apple pie as a symbol of Americana, of course, but I'd argue the incredibly obvious point that the game has always served as more of a refuge from modern American life, rather than a reflection of it. Which brings us to the other incredibly obvious point. The most American Sport is pro football. It's the league with stars and stripes on its logo shield. The NFL—a technocratic, legalistic, half-noble, half-savage spectacle that can disgust you one moment and inspire you the next—is the game that, for better and worse, represents us the best ...

Jake Simpson: ... Baseball is the thing, and from its history to its tirelessness to its egalitarianism, it is the most American of sports ... [it] captures a key American value: working until the job is done, no matter how long it takes. Is it truly American to simply go home when the clock runs out, as in football and basketball? What are we, Greeks? Here in AMERICA, we play all nine innings, all 27 outs, and we'll gladly go to extra innings if it means getting the job done right. The clock never runs out in baseball, and there's something very "Mom and apple pie" about that. Baseball's also a sport for people of all body types, from David Eckstein to Pablo Sandoval to the literally one-handed Jim Abbott. Sure, the NFL had Tom Dempsey and his clubfoot, but baseball had ol' one arm himself, Pete Gray ...

Patrick Hruby: ...  look forward. Not backward. Acknowledge that the most American of sports—here, now, in the 21st century, the age of the iPhone and the God Particle, if not yet the flying car—is, in fact, a video game. Madden NFL. I'm completely serious. First and foremost, Madden-playing is a sport. At least as much as poker. And chess. And golf. It takes physical skill, perpetual practice and surprising stamina. Winners are crowned; losers are humbled; mastery is rewarded. More to the point, you can make money playing it ...

Read the full article at the Atlantic online