Sports only a handful, or less, countries are truly passionate about

Most obvious is American Football. I know I know theres fans around the world that follow it and the Super Bowl gets like 100 billion viewers all across the Galaxy, and there have been attempts at leagues internationally, but the only two serious pro leagues are in the United States and Canada.

Im wondering if Rugby LEAGUE would qualify; the version of Rugby most of the world plays is Rugby UNION, but as far as I know the only true pro league for well . . .League. . . is in England. But I could be wrong about that and if Im wrong hopefully this wont turn into a Rugby thread . . . . .

Other examples:

Irish Hurling and Gaelic Football? (Ireland)
Australian Rules Football? (Australia, of course)
Indoor lacrosse? (US/Canada)
Australian Supercars? (Australia . . . . . )
NHRA Drag Racing? (US)
NASCAR stock car racing? (US, with events in Canada and Mexico and I think Japan)

Are there any other very local sports the rest of the world is missing out on? Or doesn’t take that seriously as a few countries or one country?

As far as I’m aware, only Canadians give curling a passing glance. Baseball essentially doesn’t exist outside of the US (and Japan since 1945).
Lacrosse I’d never even heard of before a trip across the pond, when I was housed by a family whose elder son played. Far as I know nobody’s *passionate *about it, even in the US :slight_smile:
Pelota and Buzkashi are both only played in small corners of the world, although some might say they’re just Basque squash and Afghani goat-carcass polo respectively.

Rugby League is probably more popular in Australia than Rugby Union but still is only played seriously in two states and Melbourne. It is popular but less popular then union in New Zealand. It is also popular in New Guinea and the Pacific Islands but they are sports mad about various kinds of rugby - Sevens is massive in Fiji for instance.

It’s arguable whether this is a sport, but it’s certainly thought of as such by the people who participate, with competitions and even television broadcasts. Marching. See pic.

Sumo wrestling is popular only in Japan.

Baseball is at least a Western hemisphere sport. It’s very popular in the Caribbean and at least has leagues and world class players throughout central and south america though I don’t know a lot about how popular it is.

I would assume some of the winter Olympic events have limited appeal but i just don’t know how popular they would be back home. Hockey would be my guess but it depends how many is a hand full too.

When I was a kid, I’d often see reports of balle-pelote matches on TV. I didn’t understand anything about it and it seemed to me be played only in a few towns in Belgium and watched exclusively by older people.

The fact that it was on the news regularly suggests that it was popular in those regions, but it certainly wasn’t in mine and I have never met anyone who played it.


I’m not sure if curling is a big spectator sport anywhere, but the Scandinavian countries plus Scotland are extremely competitive. Switzerland is the best team in the world on the women;s side.

Baseball is absolutely huge in the Caribbean as well as Mexico and Venezuela and Taiwan, with stout leagues in Holland, Australia, and South Korea. Canada produces lots of MLB players.

Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in US High Schools. There is a pro league that draws quite well. For some unknown reason, Australia produces some of the best female lacrosse players in the world.

The answer to this question is US football. Outside of North America and some small Pacific US Territories, nobody in the world gives a crap. NFL Europe was a huge failure.

Kabaddiis played in India, essentially it is elaborated tag. There are two teams each on one side of a court divided in two. A player from one team will run into the other’s area, tag an opposing player and attempt to run back without being caught. The kicker is that they must do this in the course of one breath. To demonstrate that they have not inhaled the player chants "Kabaddi continuously. It was briefly televised in the UK along with some other unusual games from around the world. I found it rather engaging.

There’s the greatest sport on four legs, buzkashi, which is only played by Afghans. Perhaps the rest of the world doesn’t have sufficient dead goats to really get into it.

I just got back from a trip to Bangalore and caught this on TV. I was enthralled. I’m in search of a Kabaddi jersey now to wear around town.

Hockey is Serious Business in most barren icedust countries - Canada, Finland, Russia, Norway, Michigan… :slight_smile:

Duckpin Bowling - as far as I know it’s only played in the US, in a few states along the eastern seaboard, and in Quebec, Canada. The Rubber Band Duckpin variant is only played in Quebec.

That’s incorrect. It’s also very popular in Canada (with one, formerly two, pro teams), the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Panama, which have professional leagues (sometimes affiliated with MLB). Several other Latin American countries like Colombia have professional baseball leagues. South Korea and Taiwan also have professional leagues.

There’s also Candlepin bowling.

If there is a question then the answer is Gaelic football and Hurling both.

Some of the other suggestions are indeed sports only played in one country, but the games of the GAA are not only played almost entirely in Ireland, they are also in effect the national sports of Ireland!

According to a quick search GAA match attendances account for over 50% of the total attendances for all sports in Ireland. The football All-ireland final is the most watched event of the sporting year. GAA football championship games regularly will have some of the highest attendances of any sport in Europe on that particular day. There are GAA clubs in every single county and in almost every single parish on the island, well over 2000 clubs spread around only 32 counties in Ireland, there is no part of Ireland that doesn’t have some sort of history in terms of the GAA.

Its only played in Ireland but within Ireland it is utterly pervasive and has hundreds of thousands of dedicated competitors, fans and followers. Apart from sumo wrestling I don’t think any of the other suggestions are both so big and so small at the same time.

Candlepin is much more widespread. I can count a dozen lanes near me and I couldn’t find a single duckpin lane. But you’re correct that it’s also only played in the US and Canada.

And at least somewhat popular in Australia, as well (a number of Australians have played in MLB, as well):

Is Australian football sufficiently different from US and Canadian football that it should be considered a different sport?

I’d say yeah, it’s actually very different. I watched a few games when I was in Australia visiting, and it bears only a passing similarity to American football. I really enjoyed watching it, though!