I need to write a paper about how baseball has affected the American culture. I want to write about the sports figures' images and how many people virtually worship them, a fact that puts pressure upon these sports figures.
.. I have good resources and examples, but i'm having trouble starting out and coming up with a strong thesis statement.
How does this sound as a thesis?
Image in baseball has very much importance towards the fans, yet it can cause much pressure in the players.
Perhaps you could reword your thesis and make it a little stronger. What about this:
Being a top professional baseball player brings much glory and makes such a player the subject of hero worship, but at the same time, it creates an added pressure upon this athlete.
Here is some additional information that may assist in the writing of your paper:
At one time in the United States (pre- and post-World War II), baseball was the favorite American pastime, so an expression came into being that something was "as American as Mom, baseball, and apple pie." Players such as Babe Ruth, "Joltin'-Joe" Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle became legendary (the length of Mantle's home runs is itself the stuff of legends), and there were few Americans who were not familiar with these names. Boys traded baseball cards with the pictures of their favorite players on the front; fans, especially boys, went to the baseball park hoping to get their heroes to autograph their baseballs. Fans cheered their heroes at the park, at home and at work, they discussed the men's merits and argued about who was the greatest, citing statistics and other facts. Boys hung pictures of their favorite player and wanted to wear their caps like him, stand like him, bat in his manner, etc. Indeed, there was a hero worship prevalent throughout the nation.
To this day, especially in the Northern states where it began, baseball remains an extremely popular sport. But hero worship of these stars negatively affects fans. In one study, psychologists Hyman and Sierra examined how fans that watch sports celebrities via mass media may remove themselves "mentally from the genuine social world to a world of artificial experience.” Further, they cite research that argues that
high-level celebrity worship can lead to anxiety, depression, poor mental health, and negative affect; even low-level celebrity worship can lead to social dysfunction and depression (Maltby et al., 2004)
By the same token, athletes feel a pressure upon themselves if they are to be role models. This pressure is translated for the most part in their feelings that they must remain super-stars. So, they can make the mistake of taking enhancing drugs, as did Derek Jeter. In one sports publication Eric Bordin writes in his article "Exploring the Mind of the Professional Athlete--Why They Get into Trouble" writes,
A lot of people say that we are being too tough on these guys and they just represent a small segment of the population, where a certain percentage will get in trouble. Is that true? Are we being too hard on professional athletes?.... It’s entirely possible that we put them in the unenviable hero position and they cannot live up to it.
Either side of the experience is not a normal one, to be sure.