The diverse world of sport

Intercultural histories of the origins of national sports

25.07.23 • Author: Venice Osswald

Sport is considered one of the most popular leisure activities even in childhood. Moreover, it does not just remain a hobby. All over the world, people have taken to competing in a wide variety of disciplines. There are very many different sports, which is why an exact overview is hardly possible. It is estimated that the exact number is around 250 disciplines. Today’s blog entry provides insights into the favorite sports of different countries.  

Data-driven sports
The most popular sports vary across the globe

Football in Germany - Emotional community feeling

No other sport belongs to Germany as much as football. When people from other countries describe Germans, they often answer: “Cool at work, emotional at football.” It seems that football has managed to bring the population in Germany together in an effective way on a regular basis. 

Football plays a very important role in Germany

However, the history of football in the country is not even 200 years old. 

In 1874, someone who would not have been expected to do so in the first place changed the sporting landscape forever.  Konrad Koch was considered a young and dedicated teacher at Braunschweig’s Martino-Katharineum grammar school in his day.

He observed that pupils were spending more and more time indoors instead of enjoying the fresh air. Koch wanted to do something about this. He had a leather ball sent to him from England, where football was already known, to establish outdoor community-building games. At first, the students didn’t know exactly what to do with this new toy. Soon, however, they were playing enthusiastically and other schools began to adopt the break-time sport. 

Koch coined key football terms such as ” Halbzeit” (“halftime”) or “Strafstoß” (“penalty kick”) by translating the rules from English. However, the rules at that time differed from today’s guidelines. For example, the team consisted of 15 players and the ball could be touched with the hands. 

Jena occupies a special place in football history. The city, where Coachwhisperer is based, enacted one of the oldest principles on 01.01.1893. Jena Rules state that there is a ban on shrubs, trees, and all vegetation on the pitch.

Over time, the youth activity developed into a popular sport for adults. In 1900, 86 football clubs founded the “Deutscher Fußball Bund” (DFB). There are now around 25,000 clubs registered with the DFB. FC Bayern München as a team has so far scored the most points in the Bundesliga and leads by far. 

Cricket in India - More than just a winning sport

India's favorite sport: Cricket

The most famous sport in India actually comes from a dark chapter of the past, the colonial era to be precise. English sailors originally brought the game to their then-colony in 1721 to promote their own culture as superior to the locals. Indians gradually adopted the sport, and cricket has since spread throughout the country, which has been independent of England for almost 80 years. However, cricket only became a national sport after a memorable event. In 1983, India beat its former colonists in the Cricket World Cup in their own game and on English ground. History was made in the capital London that day because of this great symbolism.

The most famous cricket team is the men’s team Sunrisers Hyderabad. But Indian women are also rising steadily in the sport, especially in recent years. One problem that still exists, however, is the lack of diversity in the teams in terms of social background. The caste system is considered officially abolished in India, but it still influences everyday life. Most athletes who play cricket come from wealthy families. 

This situation is not likely to change in the near future, as the lower social classes lack the money for training facilities and equipment. Only among the ladies do players from lower castes now play. 

Baseball in the USA - Shaping the history of an entire country

Baseball was initially based on the related discipline of cricket, which European settlers brought with them to the American continent. The beginnings of most traditional sport in the USA started as a recreational sport on the meadows of New York. People enjoyed spending leisurely afternoons with friends or family over baseball. In 1842, New Yorker Alexander Cartwright founded the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club and issued the Knickerbocker Rules in 1845. This laid the foundations for a sport with a promising future. The first National League was founded in 1876, but there was still no question of professionalism. There were often turbulent disputes and brawls between fans and the players themselves. In 1894, as the climax of this chaotic period, a fire broke out in the Boston stadium during a game, destroying parts of the city. 

Baseball experienced a great boom in the Golden Twenties. The population had enough money to attend matches regularly. One of the most famous and victorious players, Babe Ruth, helped the USA to become a world power in baseball. Ruth, who first pitched for the Red Sox and later moved to the Yankees, was considered the best power hitter by the standards of the time. He managed to raise the home run record from 29 to 54. In the course of his career, he raised the number again to 60.

A sport that unites generations: Baseball

Nowadays, when we think of the USA, it is hard to imagine baseball without him. Currently, the Tampa Bay Rayes lead the elite in baseball in the MLB Power Rankings.

Table tennis in China - world record holders by a wide margin

Table tennis is the most popular sport in China

The early form of table tennis was already recorded in writing in England in 1874. Due to the numerous rainy days in the area, a solution was sought to move classical tennis indoors. Of course, there was not enough space indoors for a whole tennis court, so tables were converted into playing surfaces. The first term for this was room tennis. Later on, the game was given the unofficial name ping pong because of the noise the ball makes when it bounces.

The first table tennis championship occurred in 1897 in what is now Hungary. It was not until 2 years later that the game reached Japan and eventually spread to the entire Asian continent. It is thanks to the Chinese stationer Wang Daoping that a veritable euphoria broke out among Chinese athletes from 10 table tennis sets he brought with him. Today China is considered the best table tennis nation in the world. 

All the previous 9 Olympic champions in the women’s singles have come from China. In the men’s singles, 6 Chinese players have taken home the title. A total of 60 million Chinese people practice the sport and children learn it from the age of about 4. 

The players Ding Ning and Ma Long are among the country’s most successful table tennis talents. 


Global sporting enthusiasm spans many sports. Every country and every culture has its favorite discipline, which has usually developed into the official or unofficial national sport within centuries. It is particularly clear from the article that most sports were not invented in the country where they are so popular today. Interculturality in sports will continue to play a significant role in the future. This can be seen as beneficial, as every sports-loving fan can choose from a vast repertoire of options. 

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