SPORTS

USA by Mark Rosenfelder, Australia by Chris O'Regan, Austria by Klaus A. Brunner, Brazil by Emilio Neto, Brittany (France) by Damien Erwan Perrotin, Canada & Ontario by Adam Bishop, British Columbia (Canada) by PJ Perdue, Quebec (Canada) by Valerie Bourdeau, China by the English class at the Suzhou branch of Agile Software Co, Colombia by Carlos Thompson Pinzˇn, England by Graham John Francis de Sales Wheeler, Finland by Johanna Laakso, France by Nicolas Duvernois, Germany by Irgend Jemand, Greece by Chris TDAQ, India by Apurva Mishra, Israel by Robin Alexander, Italy by Riccardo Distasi, Japan by Hirofumi Nagamura, Urban Mexico by Acoyani Garrido Sandoval, The Netherlands by Bas Suverkropp, New Zealand by Gareth Wilson, Nigeria by Didi, Poland by Pawel Stachura, Scotland by Geoff Eddy, South Africa by T'Mar, Sweden by Anders Janson, Turkey by Cyril Alebard, Long Island by Robert Delaney, Southern Louisiana by Andrew Chaney, Texas by Tom Wier, Yorkshire (UK) by Stephanie Bailey, Southcentral Alaska by Cherie Campbell, and the general characteristics of the First Generation Immigrant by John Smith

Country or region

Popular sports

NORTH AMERICA

USA

You know how baseball, basketball, and American football are played. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about their rules. On the other hand (and unless you're under about 20), you don't care that much for soccer.

ALASKA
SOUTH-CENTRAL, USA

You know how baseball, basketball, and American football are played. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about their rules. On the other hand (and unless you're under about 20), you don't care that much for soccer. You might also be a bit familiar with the Native games, competitions for which are held in Anchorage each year.

You're familiar with the Iditarod and the Mount Marathon race. Sled dog racing is still a major attraction; the Iditarod Trail is one of Alaska's most famous events, and you have perhaps gone to stand by the trail to cheer on the mushers. You know about the historical event it commemorates, the diphtheria crisis of 1925, and are unhappy if a musher not from Alaska wins. If you live in a more rural area, you might even know someone who races dogs, either competitively or for fun. You may have heard of environmentalists who protest the use of dogs for racing, and you think this is ridiculous; anyone can tell that the dogs love it. Even if abuses did take place in the past, mushers take good care of their dogs, and the checkpoints of the Iditarod and other races are regulated.

Another thing you will discuss contentiously if you are young and male is which of the four snowmachine (not "snowmobile") companies (Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo, and Yamaha) is the best.

LONG ISLAND, USA

Add lacross and field hockey to the sports commonly played at schools. And soccer, but, if you're older, you can't imagine why. You just got your own minor league baseball team: the Long Island Ducks! (and yes, it seems like a stupid name unless you know that LI used to have world famous duck farms). Back in the 1920s-30s, LI was the known as the "Polo Capital of the World", and there are still some rich people in the Hamptons who play it (of course, you don't get invited to those events).

LOUISIANA, USA

You know the rules to Baseball, Basketball, and (American) Football, and can probably discuss at least one of those in detail. Soccer doesn't come up much. Cock fighting is a legal sport.

TEXAS, USA

To you the idea of state supported schools without sports programs is probably quite ludicrous.

CANADA

You know Canada invented hockey, and you don't call it ice hockey because there is no other kind of hockey. If you are a male, you will have played hockey as a child, maybe not in an organized league, but definitely on the street with a tennis ball or on a frozen pond. If you are female you may not have played hockey. You don't like the fact that the Americans have stolen the game and screwed around with it. You think Canada has the greatest world hockey team even when they don't (even when they lose to Kazakhstan), and even if you weren't alive in 1972 you know about "the goal." You probably recognize the differences between American and Canadian football, even if you don't watch Canadian football very much (which you probably don't if you are younger). You know and have probably played baseball (especially if you are male), and are proud that the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series (twice!) even if they didn't have any Canadian players. Basketball is fairly popular, especially now that the NBA expanded into Canada. Soccer is popular among younger people. You may also be aware that the "real" official sport is lacrosse, for some reason. You may also be familiar with curling. If you don't live in a city you probably consider hunting a sport. You love it when Canadians beat Americans in any sport, especially in the Olympics (Olympic, especially Winter Olympic, athletes are big heroes in Canada) . But you usually watch a lot of American sports.

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

You know how baseball, basketball, and American football are played. You know that Canadian football is played on a larger field, and has one more player and one less down than the Yank version. If you're male, you follow hockey as a religion. Several people you know are addicted to curling, and will spend their vacations travelling to Winnipeg to watch the championships.

ONTARIO, CANADA

Hockey is the most popular sport. If you are a hockey fan, you either love or hate the Toronto Maple Leafs (and if you love the Leafs you must by definition hate the Montreal Canadiens). Baseball, basketball, football, and soccer are also very popular, and Toronto now has a professional lacrosse team as well. You were more excited than the rest of Canada when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series. In the winter there are many places to go skiing. You are aware of curling but you see it as more of a Western Canada sport. American football, because of American TV, is more popular among younger people, but many people still enjoy a good Toronto-Hamilton CFL game. If you live in the north or rural areas of the south you probably hunt fairly often, and dislike those in the urban south who think you are just killing innocent animals for no apparent reason.

QUEBEC, CANADA

Hockey is way more than a hobby, it's a religion. Other professional sports don't have much of a following, as we've seen with the Expos. You enthusiastically cheer on amateur Québécois athletes in international competitions, which are followed more assiduously than in the US or the rest of Canada.

LATIN AMERICA

BRAZIL

You know lots of things about football (soccer). If you're male, you have your own list of the 11 players who should start for the national team. You know something about volleyball and basketball. You are curious about American football but baseball is absolutely incomprehensible.

COLOMBIA

You know how football is played-- and of course, football is association football, not that strange thing played in the USA and that only Americans understand. You are likely to know how to play basketball or volleyball but you are not likely to follow those sports. Baseball is very common in the Northern Coast, but the media in Bogota pays little attention.

MEXICO (URBAN)

You know by heart how soccer (fútbol in Mexico) is played. If you're a man, you often have deep knowledge of soccer; if you're woman, you don't know anything about it. People who care about American football (fútbol americano), basketball or baseball are somewhat rare, but exist!

EUROPE

AUSTRIA

You know how football ("soccer", Fussball) is played. If you're male you may even know the infamous Abseitsregel, and you think the national team's head coach doesn't have the slightest clue, which is probably the reason why the national team invariably loses all matches. Sports like baseball or cricket are boring and weird. American football is exotic and weird. Whenever you turn on the TV during the months with "r", you'll likely see downhill skiing, slalom skiing, giant slalom skiing, ski jumping, and cross-country skiing. In all other months, you'll see football (soccer) or Formula One racing, with commentary by the legendary Heinz Prüller.

FINLAND

You may like football (if you are a young urban male, perhaps even the strange American version of so-called "football"). In general, however, you feel most comfortable watching sports where people wear helmets: Formula One (you know that it is dominated by Finns called Mika), ice-hockey or ski-jumping. Cricket is something incomprehensible, but for baseball you have a version of your own, the Finnish pesäpallo. "Skiing" means cross-country skiing, but if you are under 25, you might prefer the snowboard.

FRANCE

You like football (strangely called soccer in some curious countries that call some ugly version of rugby, where players are allowed to attack players who don't have the ball with them, football), tennis (whose players are called tennismen), basketball (no question of the NBA, of course), and Formula One (Indy is only a local championship). F1 obviously proves that the only type of engines worth talking about are French. You think that the rules of cricket and baseball are incomprehensible.

BRITTANY, FRANCE

You know how soccer is played, of course you call it football, like all normal people. If you are male you can argue intricate points about its rules. You have heard about american football but generally don't understand it. You are also interested in bike racing.

GERMANY

You know how soccer is played. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about its rules, have your own list of players who should be on the national team and are angry or depressed since these idiots on the official national team don't know how to play real soccer anymore. You know what handball is but don't care much about it. If you're under 30, you might know about basketball or even American football, but you don't know how baseball is played, although it somehow reminds you of a game you played for fun in elementary school.

GREECE

If you're male, you are a soccer fanatic and you probably deem yourself qualified to give advice to the coach of the National Team. It would be unthinkable for you not to support one of the major Greek teams. You gamble like crazy. You also bet on soccer games about 2-5 times a week. Traditionally, you never get a break. You also know some things about basketball. Baseball, cricket and American football are exotic kinds of entertainment, widely (and inexplicably) appreciated beyond the seas.

ITALY

You know the ins & outs of calcio (football, although the Americans like to call it 'soccer'). If you're male, you probably deem yourself entitled to give out advice to the National Team's coach. You like Formula I, too. It is plain to see that Ferrari is tops. You know about tennis and basket. Baseball, cricket? Ooh, yes, you've seen baseball in movies. People hit balls with sticks and then they run.

NETHERLANDS

You know how soccer is played. Of course, you call this sport football. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about its rules. Your greatest dream is beating Germans in the World Cup finals. You've heard of American football but don't know how it works. The only sport that can equally arouse your passion is speed skating.

POLAND

You know how basketball, volleyball, and soccer are played. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about their rules. You have no idea how basketball and American football are played; you don't want to know. But children will sometimes play baseball nowadays.

SWEDEN

You know how (association) football is played: with a round ball, of course. Ice hockey is not unheard of. If you are male, you can argue intricate points about the rules.

ENGLAND, UK

You're not all that interested in baseball, basketball, or American football. If male, on the other hand, you know everything there is to know about soccer, which you call simply 'football', and perhaps cricket as well. Middle-aged men can add snooker and golf.

YORKSHIRE, UK

You have a detailed knowledge of the rules of soccer, and follow your local team even when they get relegated to the bottom of the Doctor Martens league. You think that cricket has deteriorated since they changed the rules to allow non-Yorkshire-born players play for the county team.

SCOTLAND, UK

You know at least the basics of football (it's never called "soccer"), and probably rugby too. If you're male, you probably know the rules of football in great detail and can name the eleven players who should make up the national team; additionally, you can probably come up with convincing arguments why none of them should be (depending on your religion) Tims or Huns. You prefer not to remember Costa Rica in 1990, or Peru or Iran in 1978, although you reminisce fondly about Archie Gemmill's goal against Holland.

American football is still something of a novelty which you can see at strange times of the day, and cricket is for Sassenachs (except in Freuchie). Shinty, by contrast, is a genuine Scottish sport popular in the Highlands, and you may have played it at school.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

AUSTRALIA

Whether you're male or female, you watch a lot of sport. You watch the cricket, and support your footy team... which code is best is a matter of controversy and depends on your upbringing. You can be sure that the contest is between League, AFL, and maybe Union-- none of these fancy Northern Hemisphere games, like soccer or gridiron. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about their rules. You don't know so much about basketball, netball, hockey, baseball, etc.-- even if the national team are the world champions.

You are proud of Greg Norman, Cathy Freeman, Dawn Fraser, Herb Elliot, John Eales, Kieran Perkins, Susie O'Neil, Pat Rafter, Ian Thorpe, the Oarsome Foursome, Karrie Webb, Mark Waugh, the late great Sir Donald Bradman and many many others ...

You think the Anzac (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) spirit is still important, so long as the Kiwis don't win the sporting tests. They are to be pitied and laughed at. They have no hope of gaining the upper hand in the endless sporting rivalry between our two nations.

The Sydney 2000 Olympics was a wonderful opportunity to show the world (a) that we are the greatest sporting nation on Earth, à la the swimmers of Melbourne '56; and (b) that we do have flushing toilets. But everyone will forget about it within months.

NEW ZEALAND

You're not interested in baseball, basketball, or American football. If you're male you know everything there is to know about rugby union, and possibly rugby league as well. You may have played soccer at school but you don't follow it as a spectator.

ASIA

INDIA

Cricket reigns supreme as the Indian spectator sport of choice. Some of the more popular players are Sunil Gawaskar, Kapil Dev, Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar. You know nothing of baseball, basketball or American football. You might play (original or variants of) soccer, cricket and field hockey, in addition to domestic games such as kabaddi.

CHINA

You know how table tennis and badminton are played. You know how to do at least some Gongfu (Wushù). If you are female, you played "Chinese jump rope" as a child; if you are male, you knew how to use a slingshot.

JAPAN

You know how baseball and sum˘ wrestling are played. If you're male, you can argue intricate points about their rules. At school, you also learned how to play volleyball, soccer, basketball, tennis, rugby (maybe), and either kend˘ or jud˘. If you actually know the rules of American football (amefuto), you belong to a very small minority. If you know anything about Formula One racing, you know that Honda and (more recently) Toyota rule.

AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

NIGERIA

You don't discuss football; you fight about football! And your wife better not bother you when you're watching it on TV.

SOUTH AFRICA

You know an obscene amount about cricket and rugby, and you have a very definite opinion about Hansie and the match-fixing scandal. You know a lot about soccer. You paint your face like the South African flag at international cricket matches. You probably know nothing about baseball, American football or basketball.

ISRAEL

You love soccer, but don't see what the fuss is about baseball or football.

TURKEY

If you're male, you are a futbol fanatic. It would be unthinkable for you not to support one of the major Turkish teams. By the way, you fail to understand why someone would use a bizarre word like "soccer."

SUBCULTURES

FIRST GENERATION IMMIGRANT

The f-g migrant probably knows football - ie: soccer (unless, of course, you are American ) and that's sufficient for the time being. However, it doesn't matter how long you spend in your new country, if the national team from your country of origin is playing an international match against the team from your country of choice, then you will support your birth team. But if the magnet country team is playing against any third team, then, more often than not, you will shout publicly for your (new) country's team while secretly hoping they get thrashed. This is a typical syndrome of the underdog getting a fleeting moment of pleasure from seeing the overdogs receive a taste of their own medicine. Over time you get to know other national sports (if different from football ) and sometimes learn to appreciate them. However, more exotic, inbred local sports (bandy, shinty, sumo, dwarf throwing, etc) take much longer to appreciate unless they are horrifically violent and akin to blood sports. Deep down we're no different from the ancient romans who loved their gladiatorial combats. Seasoned rugby players emigrating to the USA can't understand American football - 'just a pack of behemoths in body armour who crash into one another rather than attempting a graceful swerve to outwit the opponent'. Likewise, baseball is just a less subtle / more down-market version of cricket. The migrant can appreciate the spectacle of Formula one racing (if he has a TV set) because the nice bright colours of the cars are very eye catching and the drivers' wives, filmed nervously chewing their lips in the pits, are usually rather pretty.

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