Whether it’s Mark McGwire breaking the home run record, Terell Davis breaking the rushing record, or superstars retiring, Americans have always had a fascination with sports. Sports have provided entertainment even before radio or television. Sports provided many things for the fans that watched them. Sports allowed communities to grow stronger and provided great athletes to look up to. With the arrival of television sports took on a whole new meaning. Being able to watch a game together gave the community a new way to bond, giving individuals a visual image of their favorite athletes.
The television also opened up the industry of commercialization. Sports, televison, and merchandising on television became a combination that continues even today. The community in the 1950’s was like one big family. Children played in the streets, everyone knew everyone else on the block, and sports created unbreakable bonds. Children and their fathers, neighbors, and even complete strangers could always talk about sports. As televison began to fill American homes, neighbors flocked to each others house to watch different events. Even neighbors who loved different sides crowded around the television to watch the event.
Whether it was baseball, wrestling, golf, roller derby, or another sport, television allowed the community to grow closer. It is estimated that one sporting event drew an audience of 150,000 viewers. This is remarkable considering there was only about 5,000 television sets in American homes. That is about 30 people per set! Sports and television did more than just bring the community closer together. Sports on television became so popular that merchandising became a booming business. Whether at a game or sitting in the living room, authentic merchandise was a must for any fan.
Much like the merchandise in Karal Ann Marlings book As Seen On TV, the merchandising industry exploited the people. Making them believe that they just had to have the newest merchandise. Sports created a bond between neighbors in the 1950’s. It created stability within the community and allowed the community to grow into a tightly knit group. As television infiltrated American homes, the community grew even stronger by gathering to watch sporting events. Television unified people in the 1950’s and is still unifying people today.