Americans do this, Europeans do that. It's observational humor at its finest! For example, have you noticed that for much of our sports games, we Americans prefer to sit comfortably, sipping our beers, enjoying our views, and perhaps, depending on whether or not you're a Cubs fan, paying less attention to the actual game than to the conversation you're creating with a nubile young female sitting directly in front of you? (Hey, guilty as charged.)
Meanwhile, Europeans at soccer matches stand the entire game. That has to get tiring! So why? Why do Europeans stand and Americans sit? Where's the cultural difference? The Wall Street Journal has the answer today.
It goes back to "the middle ages, when the nobility sat and the common plebs stood," says Rod Sheard, senior principle of the leading sports architecture firm Populous and designer of the Emirates. "All of America is nobility. Everyone thinks they're king in America."
Yes, the sociological explanation, as the Sports Economist calls it, has we Americans demanding higher standards thanks to our apparently privileged demands. But don't necessarily blame the fans. The other part of the story is that when American sport was young -- when baseball was just first becoming a spectator sport -- baseball management aimed its marketing efforts at a sophisticated, casual crowd; they wanted the rich people willing to sit calmly and spend their money, not the working class rabble that might get drunk and ruin the fun for everyone else.
So the whole sitting down-standing up thing is a function both of capitalism and exceptionalism, which, since we're talking about America here, pretty much makes perfect sense. And now you know.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.