I'm curious about sports culture around the world, as well as how persons from other countries view sport within the United States. When I was in high school I played for the water polo team and swim team, but (American) football is my favorite sport to watch. Within the United States it is well understood that soccer is the most popular sport worldwide, although not so here. I would even say that women's soccer is more highly regarded than men's. In the US the most popular sports are:

Tier I - the 3 big ones

1. Football - the American version, in which very little foot-to-ball contact is made. The professional league is called the NFL (National Football League), and made up almost entirely of Americans, with the exception of Samoans and some foreign kickers. The championship game is the Super Bowl and has turned into a huge spectacle which people often throw parties to celebrate.

2. Basketball - nowadays the NBA (National Basketball Association) features many foreign players. You can expect to see at least one European on pretty much every team. The league features one Canadian team, the Toronto Raptors.

3. Baseball - was the most popular sport in America for a long time, and often called "America's pastime". Today Major League baseball features many, many foreign players. Countries such as the Dominican Republic, Japan, and Venezuela are combed by baseball scouts as throughly as anywhere within the US. Now that the Expos have left Montreal for Washington, DC, the league has one lone Canadian team in the Toronto Blue Jays. The championship is a best-of-seven series called The World Series.

Tier II - everyone watches sometimes

Golf - perhaps the only sport listed here that's as popular to play as to watch. While most Americans love football, basketball, and baseball, they don't usually play these sports past their youth. Golf's popularity on the other hand, rests almost entirely on the shoulders of middle-aged men who use the game as a means of socializing as well as conducting friendly business.

Ice Hockey - while popular in the US, hockey has nowhere the popularity here that it does in its home of Canada. Governed professionally by the NHL (National Hockey League), the league is dominated by Canadian players but also features many from Russia and Scandanavian countries. The championship series is named after its trophy, the Stanley Cup.

Tennis - similarly to golf, tennis is just as popular to play as to watch. In America the sport's popularity tends to wax and wane with the rise and fall of successful American tennis stars. In other words, if there are no big American stars in the game on the international level, then the country tends to temporarily lose interest.

Tier III - sports not regularly on TV, but that everyone is familar with

Soccer
Volleyball
Track & Field
Cross-Country
Swimming
Skiing (snow and water)
Bowling

Young Americans (especially where I live) also enjoy what are usually called the "extreme sports" such as surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, dirt biking, et cetera, which are judged by tricks and stunts.

To those from other countries: what sports do you enjoy the most, and which are the most popular in your country? Have you seen American football being played? What are your impressions of the Super Bowl?
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Hi YoungCalifornian, interesting topic really. Though I'm not quite sensitive about sports, but I do believe, sports, as part of culture, could tell much about a people. I like this topic.Emotion: smile

You said there are foreign players in every kind of sport. I don't think that might weaken the cultural accent of one sport, and that's a trend can not be controlled, right? I think the athletes' predomination in the field and the fervor of the country toward one sport make it a national sport. Just my personal idea, hope to hear about different opinions.

My knowledge about sports culture could be quite stereotyped. Stereotyped things are usually annoying, if so, sorry for that and please correct me.

Hocky, Australia
Baseball, Japan
volleyball, Cuba
Golf, England
ski, New Zealand

I'm afraid I am quite wrong, but I usually relate these sports to these countries. Looking forward to others ideas.
Almost everybody is adicted to football (soccer) in Turkey. It is the best famous and loved sport. Football is spoken everywhere in Turkey.
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ahava yin,

I was largely trying to illustrate how two of America's biggest professional leagues, the NBA and Major League Baseball, have experienced a relatively recent influx of foreign players. This would suggest that these sports have an expanding international audience. Ever since Yao Ming came to play basketball from China, there have been reports about his immense popularity in China and the exposure that the NBA is receiving there. Similarly, when Hideo Nomo came to play baseball from Japan I saw a news story on "Hideo-vision", a large outdoor television in downtown Tokyo which played his games nonstop.

Like I said earlier, baseball is traditionally called the "national pastime" in America, but today it has ceded popularity to football and basketball. Until probably the late '80s , baseball was unquestionably the most popular sport in the US, but the slow pace of the game as well as a labor disputes in the mid-'90s have hindered the sport's popularity.

I've never really though about which sports I associate with which country, nor would I ever try to claim that one sport is really my country's national sport (the popularity of any sport in America depends heavily on the region). That having been said, I guess I would associate the following countries with the following sports:

- Great Britain: Soccer, Rugby, Cricket (I have absolutely no idea how to play), and Golf
- Australia: Swimming, Surfing, Sailing, and Rugby
- Japan: Sumo Wrestling, Judo, and Baseball
- Cuba: Baseball
- New Zealand: Sailing and Rugby
- Canada: Ice Hockey and Curling
- The Netherlands: Speed Skating
- Austria: Skiing
- Norway: Cross-country Skiing and Biathalon
- and almost all of Latin America: Soccer

Lastly, what country are you from ahava yin? And which sports are most popular there?
Hi YoungCalifornian,

I was understanding your words in a different way. Thanks for your further explaination. Now I see what you meant by giving the fact of the diversity. Yes, on this point, we share the same opinion. I'm from China. As far as I know, quite many of Chinese youngsters, especially boys, love NBA. When I was in middle school, that's about eight or nine years ago, my classmates took NBA stars as their idols. And that was before Yao. For where I live, kids like playing soccer, and older ones, say, teenagers love playing soccer and basketball. Badminton and table tennis are also popular. People like watching volleyball, table tennis, of which we were or are proud. I really don't know much about sport. These are just what I see in the people around me.

By the way, I like your list of county & sports.Emotion: smile
Hi, I'm writing one of the chapters of my MA thesis on American sport heroes. I was wondering if you could help me find 3 or 4 American biggests sport stars (internationally known and locally respected) performing in football, basketball or baseball?
My paper requires that I narrow the sports array to the most famous disciplines.

So far I have come up with Michael Jordan.

Your answer being that of an American is of great importance to my research. See we have a different point of view (I am a European).
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Although I don't practice any sports nor I know anything about most of them, I can tell you that in Argentina, football (soccer) is truly "the crowds' passion". However some other sports have become more and more famous... we have really good tennis players as Gaudio, Nalbandian or Coria; our basketball team beated twice the Dream TeamEmotion: wink and it seems that polo is also becoming very important, since I recently heard that the biggest polo... field?... is in Buenos Aires. I also remember when Prince Charles came to Argentina and played polo in a place 3km. away from home.
The feminine hockey team got silver medals in Greece, and the football and basketball teams got gold medals.
Probably the most famous argentine around the world is Diego Maradona, a football player which is still considered by many as the best football player ever. But to be honest, I never liked him, and I don't think he's giving us a very good image in front of the world. The only thing he knew well was how to play football, but today he can't even do that.
Well Guest, I can name some of America's biggest sports stars, but I'm not sure how internationally recognizable they would be as I'm not entirely sure how popular American sports are internationally.

In basketball Michael Jordan is indeed the most celebrated player ever. Other basketball legends include Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Isiah Thomas, and Julius "Dr. Jay" Erving. Some of the most famous (American) players who are currently active in the NBA are Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant (although he is rather controversial after rape allegations), Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan.

The most famous baseball player of all time is easily George Herman "Babe" Ruth, although he last played in 1935. Baseball has had many famous players, more than any other American sport, as it was the most popular American sport for a long time. Some of the stars include Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio (who was married to Marilyn Monroe), Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, and Rod Carew (this list could go on and on). Baseball now has a lot of foreign stars, but the most popular American players who are still active would include Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Gary Sheffield, and Barry Zito.

Football has a lot of stars, but because this game has pretty much no fanbase outside of the Unites States (at least to the best of my knowledge), I doubt that these players will be considered international stars. Again, some of the most famous players ever are Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Dan Marino, John Elway, Lawrence Taylor, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Troy Aikman, Ronnie Lott, *** "Night Train" Lane, and Gale Sayers. Some of the most famous players still active in the NFL are Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady, Steve McNair, Peyton Manning, Priest Holmes, Clinton Portis, Ahmad Green, and Warren Sapp.

Hope that helped.
I am so greatful to you for your help! I had had my suspicions as to some of the persons you mentioned, and henceforth I will be able to relate to it more firmly.

I can tell you that in Poland (where I'm from) as far as basketball is concerned, the names of Jordan, Johnson, Bird, Jabar, O'Neil, Bryant have been familiar to me.

In baseball it is indeed harder, for we have no baseball tradition whatsoever. But having taken into consideration American movies that I've seen or heard of, among the baseball players you mentioned I definitely know Babe Ruth (my second choice and now confirmed), Williams, Cobb, and DiMaggio. Contemporary players are completely obscure to me, so I will just have to stick to your list and do some research.

And football...? What we call football in Poland (and Europe in general) is what you call socker I guess, two teams kicking a ball...and all.
The only football star you mentioned who is familiar to me is Dan Marino, whose name appeared in Ace Ventura movie (was it really him in the movie?)

But like I said - you helped me a great deal here Young Californian and I am forever thankful!!Emotion: smile))
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