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The Untapped Global Potential of Gaelic Games

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9 – Ourselves Alone – North American Sporting Exceptionalism

“When I meet a European, the first thing I say is, ‘I’d much rather watch football than football.’ But I’m just teasing them, and they know I’d really rather watch football than football.”

Jarod Kintz

While it has transatlantic cultural and business ties, and shares many traits with the European nations that spawned its modern society, North America, and the USA in particular, is different from the rest of the world politically, economically, and culturally.  Nowhere is this much-vaunted exceptionalism clearer than in sports.  In many aspects of American life, particularly sports and education, there is an absence of the same sort of centralized national direction or organization that is common in European countries.  American sports have always been shaped less by central governing bodies and more by fragmented markets, financial forces, and commercial business deals.1

The most popular form of open-wheeled motor racing in most of the world is Formula 1, but in America it is the IndyCar Series.  The most popular bat-and-ball game in much of the world is Cricket, but in America it is Baseball.  The word “Football” in most of the world refers to soccer, but in North America it means the gridiron game.  Like the endemic species of wildlife on the Galapagos Islands or the kangaroos and koalas of Australia, strange and fantastic beasts that are found nowhere else, the United States is home to unique games that evolved there, were codified there, and in some cases were invented from scratch there.

Soccer has made impressive progress in the United States, but unlike in other countries where the game has been greeted with indifference, there is a significant number of people with shrill and xenophobic vocal voices of resistance to a game that is sometimes described as “un-American.”  Tom Piatak, a conservative columnist for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, wrote during the 2010 World Cup calling on Americans to reject this “invasive foreign species” with “a healthy spirit of patriotic defiance,” and denounced the game as “the metric system in short pants.”  He went on to say “I don’t want to see America globalized, and that includes American sports.”  Numerous other conservative commentators and some politicians have expressed similar sentiments, associating soccer with socialism (a word used in American politics as a term of abuse) and portraying it as a threat to the distinctive identity of American society.2  Such attitudes can sound abrasive, small minded and ignorant, something that GAA people should bear in mind when discussing non-Gaelic sports in Ireland.  However this hostility has not been strong enough to stop soccer from becoming the largest participatory sport in the USA, nor has it stopped the current domestic league, Major League Soccer, from thriving.3

Regardless of what the blow-hards say, Americans tuned into the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in their millions as the tournament attracted considerable mainstream media coverage.  When Landon Donovan scored his last-minute goal against Algeria booking a place in the round of sixteen, soccer fans across the country went berserk with raucous celebrations in bars and in the streets, a reaction that would not look out of place in more established soccer-loving countries.  Thanks to a combination of social networking and the ubiquity of video recording devices, a Youtube video showing a compilation of the reactions of American soccer fans to the goal became a viral sensation, gaining over 4 million views.  The reason the video is so powerful, and so culturally significant, is because it evokes the sensation of a massive global party that America had long been absent from, but was now very much a part of, marking a significant cultural shift away from isolation from this very important aspect of global sports and global culture.

Soccer’s journey to its current strong position in America has been a long one, and its success has been against odds that were raised by endemic sports that seized much of the market first.

Nationalist elements in Australia, Ireland and the USA in the late nineteenth century shared a common eagerness to carve out a unique identity of their own, hence it is by no accident that endemic codified sports emerged in these countries.  While improved transportation technology had improved communications, society was still a long way from the global village of today’s instant worldwide communications and mass media in which ideas spread with lightening speed.  In those days ideas could still travel, but not as quickly as today.  Customs such as organized sports at universities had made it to American shores, but the ocean that separated them from Europe was as much cultural as physical.

East coast secondary school students were playing football type games in the early nineteenth century and continuing to do so at universities, including a game called Ballam which was being played at Princeton in the 1820s.  By the 1840s similar games were taking place at Yale, Harvard, Amherst, Trinity and Brown.  In an echo of what was happening in the public schools of England, the rules of the game were localized to each school and each university, and play could get so rough that some college administrators banned it.  By 1860, schoolboys in Boston were playing the Rugby style game and formed the Oneida Football Club, reputed to be the first football club in the USA, and are said to have popularized the game in prestigious Ivy League universities in the same way that the boys of Rugby school popularized their game at Oxford and Cambridge.4

In 1869, the New Jersey universities Princeton and Rutgers played a game using rules that were close to those of the English FA.  Four years later, representatives from Princeton, Rutgers, Yale and Columbia met to standardize the playing rules, adopting a something similar to the nascent soccer code.  Harvard chose not to attend the meeting, preferring the predominantly carrying Rugby type game that they had played in their younger years in the Boston secondary schools.5  In 1874 a team from McGill University in Montreal traveled to play two games against a team at Harvard.  In the first game they used the soccer-type rules, and in the second they used the Rugby rules at the suggestion of the McGill players.  The Harvard students decided that they preferred the Rugby rules, hence they adopted the rules as their own as did Yale and subsequently the rest of the colleges in the country.6

Over the next twenty-five years a series of slight modifications would be made to the code, such as stopping play when the player in possession touches his knee on the ground, keeping possession with the same team when play resumes, and the possessing team was allowed to advance the ball a defined distance in a certain number of attempts.  The game had evolved from a spontaneous one to a more planned exercise since the frequent stoppages allowed teams to regroup and discuss tactics.7

At the beginning of the twentieth century, American football entered a period of crisis caused by brutality, unsportsmanlike conduct, and violence on the field.  Criticism and repeated calls for the game to be banned reached a head during the football crisis of 1905-06 in which President Theodore Roosevelt, a football enthusiast, personally intervened to ensure that the game was reformed to prevent it from suffering the same fate as prizefighting which had been banned.  An organization called the Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee was established to agree on common rules, enacting a number of reforms including the banning of tackling below the knee, creation of a neutral zone at the line of scrimmage across which players could not cross before the ball was snapped, and in a significant diversion from rugby the forward pass was legalized within strict limits.  Strict penalties were also assessed for infractions and the number of officials was increased.8

With the distance across the Atlantic precluding any regular games against English teams adhering strictly to the rules of the RFU, American college teams felt like they had the freedom to adjust the rules to suit their own needs while they played against each other.  The fight for independence from Britain was much fresher in the memory than today, so deviating from the British way of doing things was culturally comfortable.  American teams had plenty of competition amongst themselves and did not need to stick to the original standard in order to get games.  The RFU adjusted its rules to address its own problems, the American teams adjusted the rules of their game to address their own problems, and evolution took its course in two directions just as the horse and zebra parted ways from their common ancestor, only in a much shorter time frame.  The distinctiveness of American football became linked with the distinctiveness of the emerging American identity.  A tradition emerged of having games on Thanksgiving, a holiday closely linked to the USA’s creation story, connecting “an Americanized game with the sacred ideals and customs of a nation just one century old.”9

Rugby played by RFU rules made in-roads in North America on the West Coast as a recreational sport organized by university students at Berkeley and Stanford, but it was the gridiron game that would achieve critical mass and go professional first.  It is interesting to speculate about what would have happened had the rugby style of play not been the first preference of schools like Harvard.  There is a chance that the United States would have adopted soccer, but it is more likely that American football would have become a modified son of soccer rather than the modified son of Rugby with which we are familiar today.

As early as 1779 there were New York cricket clubs in Brooklyn and Greenwich, and cricket matches at the Ferry House Tavern on Fulton and Elm Streets were a regular feature of city life.  The New York Weekly Gazette and Post Boy reported in 1751 of a match between New Yorkers and Englishmen played by the “London Method,” which was likely to be the type of play that would be codified by the MCC.10

In the early nineteenth century cricket was played by English expatriates under the gaze of curious onlookers.  It was also played by Americans, such as continental soldiers during their encampment at Valley Forge, and the game had become a traditional feature of the Baltimore Fourth of July celebrations by 1825.  It was also a part of American college life, being played at Harvard and Dartmouth as far back as the 1790s.11

As with all sports in the era before instant global communication, regional variations in rules and playing customs crept into cricket too.  The game that was played in America diverged from its English parent to the point where it was taking on distinctive characteristics, and it was coming to be known as “Wicket”, a game in which the stumps were a pair of blocks rising only four inches off the ground, and bowling the ball was by means of rolling it along the ground rather than throwing.  Wicket was the dominant game in New England, particularly in Connecticut, for more than a century.

In the same way that cricket evolved into a distinctive American game, and just as rugby evolved into American football, so too did rounders.  By the mid nineteenth century rounders as it was played in America had become baseball which then began to challenge wicket for supremacy, eventually consigning wicket to the status of an extinct and largely forgotten game.12

In today’s age of clearly defined sporting codes with very specific names, it is easy to forget the menagerie of pastimes that existed before standardization.  A Pretty Little Pocket Book, a children’s book published in England in 1767, contained engravings of boys playing games called base-ball, stool-ball and trap-ball.13  Rounders, base ball, barn ball, town ball, old cat and baste ball are all names for the same type of bat-and-ball game that is loosely based on the principle of batters running around a series of bases after hitting a ball that has been thrown to them.14

As far back as 1825 there was said to be a group of men who would challenge any team in Delaware County, New York to a game of “base ball,” and there were other reports of teams intermittently popping in and out of existence.  In 1845 a bank clerk called Alexander Joy Cartwright convinced a group of assorted gentlemen in Manhattan who had become regular players at 27th Street and Fourth Avenue to form a club, the New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club.  The word “club” carried a much broader connotation than just “team,” since the organization also staged social events and many of its 200 members played little or no baseball.  The club was quite exclusive, membership could only be by election, and a dress code was strictly enforced.15  Sports were still an elite pastime.  The club set down its own rules of the game which did not include an umpire to call balls or strikes, the batsman could be retired by three misses (strikes), or he could be retired by being tagged with the ball while running between bases, as opposed to the painful act of being struck by the ball between bases as happened in other variants of the game.

Organized sports such as boat races, foot races, but particularly baseball games were attracting large crowds in America’s rapidly growing cities by the 1850s.  References to the game prior to 1845 are scattered, but it is known that there was a considerable surge of growth around that time with several hundred clubs being formed.  There were two types of groups involved, one being the “sporting fraternity” which focused on playing, wagering and drinking, a scene that appealed to single working class men who were happy to find respite from the demands of the day job in the new industrial economy.  The other was the “ball-playing fraternity” which was a little more prim and proper, in keeping with a reserved Victorian approach to propriety.  They formed voluntary clubs to organize baseball in keeping with the then-fashionable doctrine of Muscular Christianity.  There are more records of the latter type of club since their activities would have been publicized and recorded in news sheets, whereas the working class clubs were largely ignored.16

Amherst obliterated Williams in the earliest recorded college baseball game in 1859, and the game would go on to become the most widely played of college sports.17  The rules adopted by the Knickerbocker club, which would come to be known as the “New York game,” were significant because their inherent advantages made them displace competing versions of the sport.  The use of foul lines contained play within a defined area and allowed fans to get closer to the action.  The game was limited to nine innings and hence could be finished in three hours, as opposed to the “Massachusetts game” that could only be won by scoring a hundred runs and could go on for longer than a day.  Since New York was the country’s most important business hub, visitors to the city who saw the game would take it with them when returning to their own cities where they would extoll its virtues in editorials and in some cases print instructions on how to form clubs.18  The nationwide tour of the Brooklyn Excelsiors, described at the time as being “second to none”, further added to the game’s popularity as men flooded into clubs to try to emulate the glory that that team had won for its city with its dominant and widely reported victories throughout the nation.19

Amid a pre-Civil War political climate in which there was a yearning for national unity and the establishment of an identity that was not derived from Britain, the National Association of Base Ball Players was formed in 1857 to agree on standardized rules since the Knickerbocker club had not succeeded in being the dominant organizing force in their game that the Marylebone Cricket Club had in theirs.  When the Civil War broke out, the concentration of men from diverse parts of the country into military units saw the game exposed to even more curious onlookers who would go back to their post-war cities taking the new and exciting pastime with them.  It had diffused so far and wide compared to any other sport that baseball’s advocates had come to believe that their game had earned the label of the American national game.20

After the civil war entrepreneurs started cashing in on the popularity of baseball by building dedicated baseball grounds with seating to accommodate spectators and a saloon to quench their thirst, while teams would be paid to play there.  Gate receipts and drink sales provided the profits.  Clubs would also build their own dedicated grounds and start relying less on membership dues and more on gate receipts to stay financially afloat.  The game was moving from a player-led pastime to a spectator-focused commercial entertainment medium.  This was the beginning of the professional movement and the eclipsing of the social side of the fraternity.  Mass support for local teams helped to shape identities for emerging neighborhoods and social and ethnic groups.  More money coming into the game, and the widespread popularity of these spectator events, further stoked the fires of competitiveness as the standard was driven to dizzy heights by players who were now practicing full time.  The first self-proclaimed national championship was played in 1860 and baseball had established itself as America’s favorite pastime.21

Basketball is unique among the big four American sports in that it has a very specific birthday, December 1, 1891.  Unlike American football, baseball and ice hockey which all evolved organically from folk customs, basketball was invented from scratch by James A. Naismith, an instructor at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts.  The winter training regimens in the gym were repetitive, laborious, and not terribly interesting compared to field sports, making it harder to attract people to keep coming back.22  On the instructions of Luther Gulick, the head of the training school for instructors, Naismith devised a ball game that could be played in a gymnasium as means of occupying athletes indoors during the winter without them getting bored.23

That gymnasium happened to have a balcony level ten feet above on which it was convenient to attach the goals at each end of the exercise area.  Naismith asked for boxes to be attached, but the janitor could only find a pair of one-bushel peach baskets.  Ten feet became the standard height of the basket, and the game narrowly escaped being named boxball.24

In 1892 Naismith wrote up the results of his experiment and the rules of the game in The Triangle, a school newsletter that went out to other YMCA branches nationwide.  Other coaches facing the same problems of keeping up member interest as Naismith read the article, and they quickly adopted the game.25

From the YMCA the game spread into athletic clubs, colleges, and schools that were burgeoning thanks to the growth in secondary schooling in the early twentieth century.  Schools were well equipped with gymnasiums that could easily be modified with the addition of two peach baskets and a soccer ball.  While it could be played indoors or outdoors, at higher latitudes the cold climate during the academic year boosted the indoor game’s popularity during winter when it did not clash with the labor-intensive harvesting of the summer when young people would be needed in the fields of America’s massive midwestern agricultural belt.  The game also had numerous practical advantages over other sports, such as a lack of injuries, no need for any particular body type (short players still had a role to play), and rewards for such noble attributes as fitness, agility, communication and teamwork, attributes that teachers were keen to instill.  Indiana became the basketball heartland in which the identity of local schools became entwined with local identity in the broader community.26  By 1929 some schools boasted basketball courts with a spectator seating capacity larger than the school’s enrollment or even the local town’s population.  Flora, with an enrollment of 90, had a seating capacity of 1,200 in a town of 1,441 people.  Martinsville, with an enrollment of 500 in a town of 4,895, could accommodate 5,000 spectators.  Raub, enrollment 26 out of a population of 258, had a seating capacity of 1,000.27

In 1895 the first inter-college basketball game was played between Minnesota State School of Agriculture and Hamline, with Minnesota State winning by 9-3.  Through church affiliations that saw word spread throughout communities at home, and war efforts that saw soldiers taking the game abroad, the game spread internationally in the early twentieth century and was included in the Olympics in 1936.28  Basketball’s popularity at home was later consolidated in the television era when the college game attracted widespread coverage.  College sports administrations and alumni associations invested heavily in varsity basketball programs to leverage the game’s considerable television exposure as advertising hoardings for their respective colleges.29  As discussed in Chapter 4, the nation’s fascination with college basketball means that it remains a national media phenomenon on a par with the professional NBA.

In addition to the parallel evolution of American sporting rules, the structures of North American sports are also unique.  Where European soccer is a hierarchy of competitions connected from the smallest amateur club at the bottom to the giants of the European Champions League at the top by a continuous system of promotion and relegation, American sports leagues are sealed, self-contained entities.  There is little or no promotion and relegation, and the number of teams playing in a league is fixed by the league’s governing body.  Any decision to expand the league with the addition of new teams is made purely on the basis of commercial viability.  The league also has absolute control over everything including the sale of broadcasting rights, salary caps, and even the specific playing rules of the game, hence the slight differences in rules between the professional NFL and the amateur NCAA college American football systems.  The only forces keeping the gameplay of the codes looking similar are the need for public understanding of the game without having to learn major differences, and the need for players to be able to transfer from one system to the other.  Hence the fundamental core elements of the codes are the same, and the rules are similar enough that no substantial retraining is needed for NCAA athletes who move into the professional leagues.  The indoor Arena Football League (AFL), by the nature of the smaller venues used by its modified gridiron game, also has differences in rules from the NFL, but the motor skills employed by the players are broadly similar, allowing the AFL to recruit from graduating NCAA players.  Major League Soccer once experimented with some adjustments to technical rules concerning how to settle a drawn match, but these were very unpopular with the fan base that was already familiar with the global game, and MLS reverted back to using FIFA standard procedures.  In theory, MLS could change the rules of their soccer game to anything they want, but pressure from fans and the need to recruit players from international leagues that adhere to FIFA rules means that it is in the league’s own interest to not stray too far from the global game.

There is nothing to stop an investor from setting up a rival league to compete with established leagues or to fill gaps in the market, and American sporting history is littered with defunct leagues.  Examples include the United States Football League (USFL) that ran from 1983 to 1987 as a spring/summer league, attracting viewers in the months after the NFL was finished, and with franchises in cities that did not host any NFL teams.  The short-lived XFL aimed to loosen up the rules of the gridiron game to encourage more physical aggression, and introduce a lot of the marketing gimmicks similar to those used in WWE professional wrestling, such as microphones on player helmets, cameras in the changing rooms, “trash-talking” announcers, scantily clad cheerleaders, and the “keyfabe” or staged events presented as reality.  The league attracted significant mainstream television network coverage, but nonetheless it failed to find an audience and folded after playing a single season in 2001.  The business relationship and close association with pro wrestling undermined the public’s trust in the validity of what they were watching, and it was always at the back of potential viewers’ minds that the games were fixed for dramatic purposes.

The XFL is interesting in that it operated on a “single entity” basis, i.e. the franchises were not independent corporations with individual owners, but the league itself was a single governing and owning organization, and it is said that this helped to undermine the credibility of it among potential fans.  Major League Soccer and the Arena Football League have a similar single-entity structure, but not being associated with a fake dramatization like WWE, those leagues have competitive credibility and can enjoy the advantages of single-entity status.

Like the XFL game, the rules of the AFL game were patented when the league started operating.  This highlights another unique aspect of American sports; entrepreneurs have the freedom to invent a sport from scratch, patent its rules, hire professional players, start a league, and attract a fan base, sponsorship, and media coverage if the product and the business model is good enough.  If the public takes it seriously and likes the game enough, the chances are the league will prosper.

Which teams get to join a league are at the league’s discretion, only the league can decide if and when it is going to expand with new teams according to what they think the market needs.  In the absence of promotion and relegation, competitive balance is maintained by a “draft” system where the top players graduating from NCAA competitions are allocated to the weakest teams in the professional leagues.

While there is no hierarchical system through which teams can advance, there are “minor leagues” as well as major leagues.  Major leagues are top-flight competitions with teams in major cities, but minor league teams are often found in smaller towns and cities in less palatial facilities and operating on smaller budgets.  These are lower in the pecking order than major leagues and attract smaller crowds, but they can be a breeding ground for players who aspire to reaching the major leagues.  Major league teams may have developmental agreements with minor league franchises giving them the right to recruit any players who stand out.  The prospect of impressing scouts and graduating to the major leagues is therefore a contributing factor to the competitive impetus of minor leagues.

The name of the city, which is inseparable from the names of soccer clubs in Europe, is of lesser importance than the American team’s brand name.  American professional sports entities are called “franchises” rather than “clubs,” since they differ from their European counterparts in that they are not the products of community endeavors tied to a specific community or place, but are instead the products of business deals and investments.  Hence American sports franchises are free to move to different cities in search of better revenues if market forces make it worth their while.

The practice of moving to another city would be alien to European soccer clubs, and any time it has been attempted it has been a public relations disaster, such as Wimbledon FC’s infamous sixty-mile move from London to Milton Keynes in 2002, a move that was met with so much hostility that outraged fans set up their own club called AFC Wimbledon to which most fans switched their allegiance.  A new fan base in Milton Keynes did not materialize, and the move did not work out well, ending 113 years of history in one London community.  Wimbledon FC has never recovered its fan base or its position in the top flight of English soccer.30

Yet American sports franchises have moved to different cities many times and been welcomed by fans in their new host city.  The Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, so-called because they purportedly trained in their early days by dodging trams in the street, moved 2,500 miles across the country to Los Angeles in 1957 to become the LA Dodgers.  The Oakland Raiders American football team were the LA Raiders from 1982 to 1994 before returning 400 miles north to Oakland where it enjoys infamously boisterous support.

A major factor in the decision to move is yet another aspect of American sports that is rare in Europe: public financing of stadium construction for the benefit of professional franchises.  City governments, eager to add prestige and cultural and economic vitality to their cities, use tax dollars to assist in the construction of stadiums for the benefit of these private corporations, sometimes getting into bidding wars with other cities to attract a professional sports franchise with itchy feet.  Sometimes franchises threaten to move out of an area if the local authorities do not build an adequate stadium.  There are currently two proposals on the table for stadium developments in Los Angeles with a view to wooing the Raiders to return, and a redevelopment proposal in Oakland aimed at keeping them around.

This practice of public financing of stadiums is understandably controversial, and opinions differ on the balance of economic costs and benefits to the city associated with having a professional team in town and attracting large crowds of fans.  The league will divide the map of the country up into territories inside which a limited number of franchises can exist.  These “territorial rights” allow franchises to locate anywhere within a territory that may encompass several cities, but moves to an unexploited territory are also possible, so there are plenty of permutations of possible bidding wars between competing city governments.

Fans of teams can be a vocal lobby, so the pressure on city governments to give in to the demands of professional sports franchises is immense.  The emotions that are generated by competitive sports can often be enough to overcome the more rational arguments put forward by economists who are sometimes baffled by sports.  In a normal business environment it is in a company’s own interest to dominate or even eliminate competition.  In sports it is the opposite, teams positively depend on having credible competition that is strong enough to put them to the test and make the outcome of a game uncertain enough that fans will tune in or purchase tickets to find out what will happen.  American sports are therefore exempt from anti-trust laws that are designed to prevent corporations from rigging the market, since sports leagues need to be able to act in a cartel-like manner and control market conditions to ensure a balanced competition.

American sports differ from the rest of the world not only in their rules and structure, but also in the way they are presented.  One of the most striking aspects of attending American professional sports events is the consumer-focused approach of event promoters.  No Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball, or NFL American football game would be complete without vendors roaming the stands selling snacks.  To attend an NHL Ice Hockey match is to be waited on hand and foot by waiters and waitresses who patrol the aisles, passing out menus, taking orders, and swiping credit cards before returning to serve snacks and drinks at the viewer’s seat.  There is no need to leave the seat and miss any of the action, or to join the mad rush for service at the concession stand between playing periods.  All manner of gimmicks are employed to work the crowd and get them involved in various activities, such as launching free gifts into whatever section of the crowd can make the most noise, or pointing the camera at couples in the crowd on the “kiss cam,” goading them into kissing for all to see on the big screen.

At professional sports events it is common for the prices of tickets to vary according to how good the seats are, allowing the most dedicated fans who are willing to spend more money to get the best seats with the best view of the action.  For example, ticket prices for home games of the San Jose Sabercats, an indoor Arena Football League team, vary according to eight defined seating areas in their home facility.  The price of single game tickets can range from $12 for the “nosebleed” seats high in the stands, going up to $14 for slightly lower seats at the end of the pitch, all the way up to $82 for front row seats at the side of the pitch.  Tickets can be purchased online where a seating diagram is displayed, or at the facility just before the game where a seating diagram is presented to the patron.  Season tickets range from $85 to $680.

The closest the GAA has ever gotten to this is different prices for different stands or terraces around the ground, and in the case of Croke Park the even higher price of viewing from the premium corporate level.  This has been such a successful pricing model for the GAA that it largely paid for the redevelopment of Croke Park.  The even more sophisticated model of pricing by seating area within a stand has become more convenient thanks to online booking of tickets and the computerized printing of seat numbers on tickets at an electronic point of sale.

A far cry from the herding of soccer fans onto dangerous terraces during English soccer’s troubled times in the 1980s, or the spartan accommodations of pre-redevelopment Croke Park, American professional sports are presented as safe, comfortable, top quality family entertainment.

This is the environment in which American-based promoters of Gaelic games compete.  It is completely different in every way from how sports are governed, structured, and presented in Ireland. It is a completely different society with different values, a different culture, and different expectations of what high profile spectator sports should have to offer.  If Gaelic games are ever to be presented as high profile mainstream spectator events outside of Ireland, they will have to meet a certain standard in some countries like the United States where expectations of customer service have been raised to considerable heights by big time professional sports.

1 – The Ball is Round, A Global History of Soccer, by David Goldblatt, Penguin, 2008, p108.
2 – How Soccer Explains the World, by Franklin Foer, Harper Perennial, 2005, p241
3 – Globalization, Culture Wars, and Attitudes Toward Soccer in America: An Empirical Assessment of How Soccer Explains the World, by Andrew M. Lindner, Concordia College, and Daniel N. Hawkins, University of Nebraska at Omaha, published in The Sociological Quarterly, Official Journal of the Midwest Sociological Society, ISSN 0038-0253, 2011, p68.
4 – Recognition Through Resistance: Rugby in the USA, Timothy John Lindsay Chandler, published in Making the Rugby World: Race, Gender, Commerce, Timothy John Lindsay Chandler, John Nauright p43.
5 – ibid, p46.
6 – The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans watch football, baseball and basketball, and what they see when they do, Michael Mandelbaum, pp143-144.
7 – ibid, p144.
8 – Red Grange and the Rise of Modern Football, by John M. Carroll, University of Illinois Press, 1999, p29.
9 – Sports, Nationalism and Globalization: European and North American Perspectives, by Alan Bairner, SUNY Press, 2001, p103.
10 – The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America By Tom Melville pp5-6.
11 – ibid pp7-8.
12 – Papers and Addresses of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, Volume II of the Proceedings of the Society, [n. p., 1909.] pp269-303.
13 – Rader, p7.
14 – National Pastime, How Americans play baseball and the rest of the world plays soccer, by Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist, Brookings Institution Press, 2005, p16.
15 – Rader, p8.
16 – Baseball: A History of America’s Game By Benjamin G. Rader, University of Illinois Press, May 2, 2008, pp6-10.
17 – ibid p11.
18 – ibid pp15-16.
19 – ibid p16.
20 – ibid p18.
21 – ibid pp19-21.
22 – Basketball: its origin and development, By James Naismith pp29-30.
23 – Mandelbaum, pp201-202.
24 – ibid, p220.
25 – Naismith, p111.
26 – Gymnasium or Coliseum?  Basketball, Education, and Community Impulse in Indiana in the Early Twentieth Century, by David G Martin, published in Hoosier Schools: Past and Present, edited by William J. Reese, pp121-124.
27 – American College Athletics, by Howard J. Savage, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1929, p60.
28 – Factors Influencing Big 12 Conference College Basketball Male Student-athletes’ Selection of a University, by Chris Croft, ProQuest, 2008, p13.
29 – ibid p15.
30 – The Global Art of Soccer, Richard Witzig, p79.