Sports Around the Globe
Sports can unite people of different backgrounds, ages, and nationalities. The thrill of a winning play, the ache of anticipation before a game begins, and the atmosphere of friendly competition are elements sports followers around the globe hold in common. Find out what makes sports popular and how the sports culture varies among countries.
Soccer Is the King of Game Time
Image via Flickr by upeters
Soccer, known in many countries as football, gets more hearts racing than any other sport. Close to 600 million people watch the World Cup final — almost twice the U.S. population. More than 200 countries compete to qualify for the World Cup tournament.
Soccer’s dominance, while undisputed in many countries, lacks luster in the U.S., where the American version of football dominates. A Harris Poll found that more than one-third of fans say that NFL football is their favorite sport. In that same poll, college football came in as the third favorite sport.
Other than soccer, basketball, tennis, baseball, cricket, Formula One Racing, and golf receive significant attention across the globe.
Strongest of the Sports Cultures
Every country has its own customs and preferences with sports, but these competitive games play a larger role in some cultures than in others.
The U.S. arguably has the strongest sports culture in the world. The Super Bowl borders on being a national holiday. The World Series and other championship games receive almost endless attention in the media. The U.S. has even won more Olympic medals than any other country.
Australia dabbles in many sports and has strong fan support, and Great Britain has a big presence in the soccer world. India, despite not having many championships to its name, is home to fans and players who avidly follow sports such as cricket, basketball, and table tennis.
Brazil, Spain, Germany, France, and Serbia also all have powerful sports cultures.
Asia’s Blossoming Sports Scene
Asia is not well-known for sports, but the world may be taking note in upcoming years. International sports stars, such as Ichiro Suzuki and Yao Ming, call the continent home. Sun Yang, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, and Zhang Xizhe, a soccer star, are both from China.
China is making efforts to bolster its economy by strengthening sports. According to a Market Watch report, “The State Council announced plans to have the sports industry contribute 5 trillion yuan (close to $833 million U.S.) to GDP by 2025.” In addition, the council’s goal is to make soccer the national sport.
In the sports arena, Asian countries have a long road ahead if they want to catch up with Western nations. However, having the Asian continent become a major player in international sports competitions is not a far-fetched idea.
Sports play a role in every country and culture — serving as a leisure diversion from work and a means for uniting people. Students of sports management, sports organizations, fans, and players can gain a deeper appreciation for the games by understanding how sports impact people across the world.
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