Try putting a European soccer match and an American baseball game on split screen sometime and looking at the stands. You’ll notice a bunch of standing soccer fans, and a lot of sitting baseball spectators. Austin Kelley set out to explain that phenomenon for the Wall Street Journal, finding much in the history of the games, and the cultures around them.
Baseball’s early entrepreneurs installed benches and raised prices to court the “tea-and-crumpets crowd,” while soccer was built around laborers, with early stadiums designed to pack in as many as possible. You can trace it back to “the middle ages, when the nobility sat and the common plebes stood,” says one architect. “All of America is nobility. Everyone thinks they’re king in America.”