Yes, I’m capitalizing every sport. I haven’t gone insane; I just made a choice for this post.
Have you ever noticed that it’s really important for countries to have a sport where they can pimp themselves out as being the best in the world? It doesn’t matter what it is, the country will find something and say: “Yo, maybe you got basketball down but we kick yo’ ASS at Ping Pong”.
Unfortunately there’s a bunch of sports played by multiple countries so it’s really hard to be “the best” at those ones. For instance, most everyone would like to be globally regarded as the best at Football (Soccer). But there’s no clear-cut winner. Nobody can go out there and say “Yay! We’re the best!” because someone will counter with “Well, that’s not true because of reasons A, B, and C”. In Football’s case you’d probably say Brazil has the best claim but then you’d get a bunch of northern hemisphere countries who say “Pfft. That’s just because your summer is during the winter so you’re all rested for the World Cup and even then look at all these years where we beat you”. It’s a no-win situation. So where does that leave you when you’re looking to be the best in the world?
I would suggest starting with Paul’s 3 Tried and True Methods for a Country to Achieve National Sporting Pride. They are:
- Take an international sport nobody’s all that pumped about and throw everything you have behind it to a grossly disproportional degree.
- Take a sport you’re already good at and force it on the globe so you can achieve international success.
- Say “Screw it. We’re never going to be good at any of these sports. Let’s just pick something as our national sport and go with that”.
Let's break them down one by one.
For your convenience I’ve provided an explanation to go with each example. Or just made a comment. Whatever.
Take an international sport nobody’s all that pumped about and throw everything you have behind it to a grossly disproportional degree.
(aka the “Whoah buddy… if it means that much to you go ahead” method.)
AUSTRALIA: Swimming (Hey, they got sent to prison on an island. I'd be surprised if they weren't interested in swimming. What? Was that offside? I’m just getting started!)
ROMANIA: Gymnastics (They love them some gymnastics. Did they invent it? Hell no. Does every gymnast on the planet now have a 300 pound Romanian coach? Hell yeah!)
USSR: Every amateur sport they could get their hands on (“Ve vill crush you vith ze iron fist. You are weak and coddled and vill break before ze might of ze communist regime. Also, ve has steroids”.)
NORWAY: Cross-country Skiing (When the closest town is 400km away through waist deep snow you better learn how to ski if you want to look beyond the local wildlife for dating opportunities.)
NETHERLANDS: Speed Skating (Same as Norway but with canals)
Take a sport you’re already good at and force it on the globe so you can achieve international success.
(aka the “Fine, fine we’ll do it. Look at us… yay, see we’re all doing it? Just let it go already” method.)
CANADA: Hockey (Also an example of Option 1. Canada said “Let’s be good at hockey. Everyone else who’s freezing their asses off and looking for a way to warm up during the winter will eventually sign up and we’ll have a huge head start.)
ENGLAND: Rugby, Cricket, and Field Hockey
ENGLISH GENT #1: "Good day chap. What shall we do today?”
ENGLISH GENT #2: “Well, perhaps we should head down to the cricket ground? Leichesterburmingshire is playing Middlesburingtonishcastle. It’ll be a jolly good go I’d think.”
ENGLISH GENT #1: “Hmm. I was thinking of perhaps invading several countries and teaching the locals how to play our sports so we can give them a good old rogering on behalf of mother England. What do you think of that then?”
ENGLISH GENT #2: “Oh good show. That would be capitol!”
JAPAN: Judo (They only invented the sport in 1882. Then when they hosted the Olympics in 1964 they just said “Mmm yeah. We’re all doing judo now”. They only lost one match and were PISSED about it.)
Say “Screw it. We’re never going to be good at any of these sports. Let’s just pick something as our national sport and go with that”.
(aka the “Take Your Ball and Go Home” method.)
Examples: (Note that I don’t include any of the official national sports, of which many fall under this category. Also, if you disagree with anything, well, I invite you to change the Wikipedia page I got it from.)
AFGHANISTAN: Buzkashi (All you need to know is that in order to score a point you have to throw a decapitated goat across the goal line while on horseback. I kid you not.)
BASQUE COUNTRY: Jai Alai (Ok, so Basque Country isn’t a country, it’s a region. But the Basque government promotes it as “the fastest sport in the world because of the balls” and I just had to get that in here somewhere.)
CAMBODIA: Bokator (A thousand-year-old technique for savagely beating the crap out of someone with whatever is handy. The name means “Pounding a Lion” for crying out loud. On a related note, 96.4% of the country is Buddhist. Go figure.)
IRELAND AND AUSTRALIA: International Rules Football (Ireland has Gaelic Football, which is awesome and all but there’s nobody to play against. Australia on the other hand has Aussie Rules Football, but nobody to play against. They’re all “Yay! This is fun!” at home, but they’re so lonely out on their islands. So what do they do? They basically looked at the rules, said “Meh, close enough”, and fudged the numbers so they could play each other)
USA: American Football, Basketball, and Baseball (I love that the US has 3 of these. But let’s face it, America kind of has a massive superiority complex and needs three sports to reinforce that. Ok, that was a joke, but you get my point*. They’ve also invented negative terminology to describe anyone who plays sports they’re not the best at, e.g. Soccer (pansies), Hockey (goons), or Math (Chinese))
OFFICIAL NATIONAL SPORTS:
In addition to those above there are the “Official National Sports”. These are sports where the country in question has actually declared in law what their national sport is just so there's no question where they see themselves as the best. Otherwise it’s up to debate. Since there are only 13 of them I decided to put the whole list down, along with a brief description of each:
ARGENTINA: Pato (AKA Polo combined with Basketball on the back of a horse. Umm, ok then.)
BAHAMAS: Sloop Sailing (Why sloops? Is it the most chill? Can you drink a rum and coke while sailing one?)
BANGLADESH: Kabaddi (Basically reverse Red Rover while holding your breath. I don’t know how else to explain it) SPECIAL NOTE: Ok, I found some footage of this. It's AWESOME!
BRAZIL: Capoeira (Dancing while kicking people in the face)
CANADA: Ice Hockey and Lacrosse (We have two because of our national inferiority complex. Ice hockey is obviously a sport where you skate around on ice and try to whip a hard piece of rubber as fast as you can at a net protected by a goalie, while occasionally hammering other players as violently as possible and punching them in the face when the referee isn’t looking. Lacrosse is the same thing without ice. Way to overcompensate Canada!)
CHILE: Chilean Rodeo (Rodeo with different rules than everyone else)
COLUMBIA: Tejo (It’s Horseshoes with gunpowder. I couldn’t make these things up)
INDIA: Field Hockey (What the girls you went to high school with played. I’m not making a judgement call here; I just don’t understand why it’s a girls sport in Canada. It looks fun)
MEXICO: Charreria (Rodeo with different rules than everyone else. Sensing a trend?)
PHILLIPPENES: Arnis (Beating the crap out of people with sticks. Think of that next time you want to yell at your nanny and she’s holding a broom)
PUERTO RICO: Paso Fino (This is a kind of horse. Was there a paperwork error or something?)
VATICAN CITY: Ultimate Fighting (Just seeing if you were paying attention)
SRI LANKA: Volleyball (Are you kidding me? Volleyball is the National Sport of Sri Lanka? Are they even good at Volleyball?)
URUGUAY: Being a Cowboy (No, seriously. That makes three countries with rodeo, all of whom use different rules. So of all the countries with national sports 23% are rodeo)
So that’s my thoughts on national sports.
I went to the mall today to buy a pillow for Erika. I hate malls. Every mall on the planet looks the same and shares the same “please God, just shoot me” traits. This one was especially enjoyable because it didn’t have any guides! How am I supposed to be a hunter instead of a gatherer without a mall map? Ooo… then I discovered that they have digital guides on advertising boards instead of static maps. Really? What was wrong with the old style? I just walked up, looked, and went where I needed. Instead I have to push 12 buttons for each store I want to find? That’s not better!
If someone told me I had to choose between going back to this mall and choking a baby panda to death well, I hope you don’t like bamboo.
*Note to international readers: Totally not a joke