I got buried down in a discusssion the other day when a friend commented that athletes of all sports (a general statement) were in it for the money. Now as a person who has played sport his whole life I found this comment a little off the mark.
Im going to drift this a different direction...
there seems to be a big difference between the US and Australia in terms of people playing sport.
Here is very common for people to continue to play competitive sport after they leave school and even college. Most of my friends played some sort of sport thru to 30 - a few a still playing sport in their 40s. Me - I play cricket and beach volleyball and Im in my 40s and plan to keep playing for a while (cricket hopefully for another decade or so)
From my (limited) time in the US there just isnt this level of social sport. Seems once you are past high school there are very few opportunities to play social competitive sport - by that I mean play in an organised competition, but just for fun and often at a level that is quite ordinary!!
My boss is an ok basketballer - over 6 foot but no great athelete. He (and at times me) play in a local comp here against a wide range of people from teens to 50 year olds. But when he lived in San Jose he said there wasnt any social level comps - the only games where for a quite high standard of play, well above what he could play. Here he plays in a local comp and isnt in the lowest level.
What Im getting at - the US system does seem setup to be about the money. If you dont make it to at least a semi-pro level then there is very little left. Sport for fun for a lot of sports seems to end at the end of school.
Here we have a decent percentage of the population playing australian rules football, soccer (sorry UKers Im using that word), rugby union, hockey, cricket, basketball, netball, squash, tennis - heck even beach volleyball!
Sport for fun and not money is rare in the US. Here its common.
(steps back after stirring the pot)