Sports and culture are inextricably linked. Different types of societies enjoy various forms of sport all over the world. It is one of the human race’s naturally unifying elements. Some cultures have unique sports traditions, such as the Capoeira martial arts practiced in Brazil, whereas other sports, such as soccer, transcend their origins and become a global phenomenon.
Sports have proven to break down barriers between societies and help many people, even those from the lowest social standing, prove their worth in a competitive but non-confrontational setting. Here, we sample popular sports from different world cultures that significantly impact various societies.
The United Kingdom
Football is the most popular sport in the United Kingdom, with dozens of highly competitive leagues. The Premier League, England’s top men’s football league, is the world’s most prestigious and widely watched football league.
The Football Association (FA) oversees overall football management in the country. Before the pandemic disrupted all sporting activity in 2019, England earned over 468 million pounds from football, a figure expected to rise into the billions by 2030.
Ping pong, also known as table tennis in other countries, is the most played sport in China, making it the country’s preferred sport. Table tennis was declared an Olympic sport in Seoul in 1988, and China immediately went on an incredible run, winning 28 gold medals out of 32 for all Olympic events held up to 2016. China’s dominance in the sport has been nothing short of astounding, with the country missing out on gold only once, in Athens in 2004.
Introducing new team events in the 2008 Beijing Olympics boosted China’s sporting momentum in ping pong. The national team went on to win all of the gold medals in the event, as well as all of the subsequent Olympics in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
Many people are unaware that football is the most popular of Russia’s top five sports. It is also the sport most supported by the Russian government. People assume that winter sports predominate due to the country’s intense winter conditions. However, football became even more popular in Russia after hosting the 2018 World Cup. The host reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 1970.
Due to the country’s political situation in the world politics, the country was banned from the recent FIFA world cup held in Qatar in 2022. The local leagues were also banned from participating in the coveted Champions League cup designated for the best-performing clubs in Europe.
Although Sumo is considered Japan’s national sport, baseball has been the most popular sport in the country’s contemporary professional league history. The sport has the most fans and players throughout the country. Baseball is commonly called yakyu or puro yakyu, and many consider it the unofficial national sport.
Thousands of fans attend baseball leagues during national games or school baseball during the summer. Although the game has existed in Japan since 1872, it was not professionally established until 1936. The game’s setting differs from other parts of the world, such as America, where the game is native. The players use a smaller ball, playing field, and strike zone.
Nonetheless, Japan has developed competitive leagues and a dominant national team gaining international recognition. Japanese players are frequently traded to other superior leagues, particularly Major League Baseball in the United States.
Ice hockey, Canada’s most popular sport, is largely supported by the country’s weather, and Canadians play the game at its most advanced level. The National Hockey League (NHL) teams have a massive following. The 2018 NHL Playoffs drew a large audience, with over 68% of Canadians watching the game live.
The NHL is also the most prestigious professional ice hockey league, with over 32 teams from the United States and Canada competing. The team competes for the prestigious Stanley Cup every year.
Ice hockey arose from various influences, including stick-and-ball games imported from the United Kingdom and other indigenous games in Canada. In 1875, the first official indoor ice hockey game was played in Montreal. The sport is Canada’s official winter sport and is widely regarded as the country’s national pastime.
Basketball and soccer are the most well-known sports worldwide, but other sports are culturally specific, resulting in varying preferences. Such unique games are popular in specific landscapes because environmental factors complement the sport, as in the case of East African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia excelling at long-distance track games. Other sports, such as cricket in India and American football in America, are popular due to their endearment in the local culture. Regardless of local differences, sports are a huge defining factor in a nation’s identity as well as a unifying factor.