One thing sociologists look at is how much something influences society and culture. Thus, when baseball shows up in unexpected places, it lets us know just how pervasive it really is. A social pattern or institution that is common to all societies is known as a “cultural universal.” Has baseball reached that status yet?
The other day I was watching “Violetta” on Netflix. “Violetta” is a teen telenovela that aired on Disney Channel Latin America from 2012-2015. The show takes place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The characters on the show, high-school aged music students, are from Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and Italy.
As the story unfolded, I noticed that one of the characters was wearing a shirt that had a graphic on it that seemed familiar. I had a feeling of what it was, but it was hard to get a good look at it, since he was wearing a sweatshirt over it. So I took a picture of the TV screen in order to study it more closely.
That’s when I realized I was right. This character from Mexico on the Argentinian soap opera for kids was wearing a Chicago Cubs t-shirt. Cool.
Now, sure, baseball is played around the world – and the Cubs have a long and storied history. But I found it interesting that the Cubs’ logo found its way into this particular TV show. I’m in the middle of season 2 of the show, and they’ve never discussed baseball – or any sport. The kids on the show generally don’t wear clothing with American logos on them. I’ve never noticed anything like this before.
And it got me thinking about baseball’s cultural reach. Is baseball truly a cultural universal? Is this a result of MLB’s international efforts? Or does this actor-kid just really like the Cubs?