In many parts of the world， there are four seasons： spring， summer， fall and winter. In the U.S.， there are only three： football， basketball and baseball. That's not completely true， but almost. In every season， Americans have a ball. If you want to know what season it is， just look at what people are playing. For many Americans， sports do not just occupy the sidelines. They take center court.
Besides "the big three" sports， Americans play a variety of other sports. In warm weather， people enjoy water sports. Lovers of surfing， sailing and scuba diving flock to the ocean. Swimmers and water skiers also revel in the wet stuff. Fishermen try their luck in ponds， lakes and rivers. In winter sportsmen delight in freezing fun. From the first snowfall， skiers hit the slopes. Frozen ponds and ice rinks become playgrounds for skating and hockey. People play indoor sports whatever the weather. Racquetball， weightlifting and bowling are year-round activities.
For many people in the U.S.， sports are not just for fun. They're almost a religion. Thousands of sports fans buy expensive tickets to watch their favorite teams and athletes play in person. Other fans watch the games at home， glued to their TV sets. The most devoted sports buffs never miss a game. Many a wife becomes a "sports widow" during her husband's favorite season. America's devotion to athletics has created a new class of wealthy people： professional athletes. Sports stars often receive million-dollar salaries. Some even make big money appearing in advertisements for soft drinks， shoes and even toiletries.
Not all Americans worship sports， but athletics are an important part of their culture. Throughout their school life， Americans learn to play many sports. All students take physical education classes in school. Some try out for the school teams， while others join intramural sports leagues. Athletic events at universities attract scores of fans and benefit the whole community. Many people also enjoy non-competitive activities like hiking， biking， horseback riding， camping or hunting. To communicate with American sports nuts， it helps if you can talk sports.
Sports in America represent the international heritage of the people who play. Many sports were imported from other countries. European immigrants brought tennis， golf， bowling and boxing to America. Football and baseball came from other Old World games. Only basketball has a truly American origin. Even today some formerly "foreign" sports like soccer are gaining American fans. In 1994 the U.S. hosted the World Cup for the first time ever.
Not only do Americans import sports， but they export sports fever， as well. Satellites broadcast games to sports fans around the globe. The World Series， the U.S. professional baseball championship， has begun to live up to its name. The names of American superstars like basketball great Michael Jordan have become household words the world over. Who knows？ Sports seasons may even change world weather patterns.