Were all the major global sports played today invented by Brits or Americans?

I can’t think of any that weren’t. If not, why not?

Bicycles were invented either in Italy or France (disputed), and the first documented race was in Paris in 1868.

**Were all the major global sports played today invented by Brits or Americans? **

I choose Americans. Brits don’t play any major sports.

Basketball was invented by a Canadian, I think.

Well, basketball, for one, although it was invented in the United States. Also, hockey can’t really be attributed to any country, but Canada would be the nearest bidder. Apparently the world’s first auto race was in France, so there’s another. Handball is a big thing in parts of the world, and it’s not from the UK or the US.

Honestly, the only truly worldwide big-team sport (since I think you probably were excluding individual sports) is football. Nothing else compares.

ETA: ninja’d on basketball!


  1. Soccer - origins in China?
  1. Table tennis?
    Thought to originate in England

  2. Badminton?

  1. Golf?
  1. Cricket?
  1. Caber tossing - well ok, not a major sport :smiley:
  2. Various martial arts?
  3. Volleyball - American
  4. Tennis

But unless you define “major sport” as Ice Hockey, Basket Ball or NFL, I don’t think you’d be very accurate in your assumption.

So while I think you’d be safe in saying a lot - all or most might be a bit of a stretch

I was referring to team sports in the OP. I should have specified that, but individual sports should be considered as well. In terms of worldwide popularity, the team sports that come to my mind are soccer, basketball, baseball, football, hockey, rugby, volleyball, cricket, water polo, team handball and Austrailian Rules Football. That’s off the top of my head, so I’m sure I left some out.

ETA: Google tells me I left off lacrosse.

rugby league and netball would be two that also spring to mind, also softball…

Well, let’s go down the list:

Soccer: UK (but of course, the general type of sport is historically common)
Basketball: Canada
Baseball: US (but really just a codification of UK-origin sports)
Football: split UK/Canada/US (no, seriously — arguably in that order)
Hockey: Canada
Rugby: UK
Volleyball: US
Cricket: UK
Water polo: UK
Team handball: Northern Europe
Australian Rules Football: Australia (/UK, again)
Netball: US? Canada? UK? Somewhere? It depends on how you want to count it, I guess.
Lacrosse: Canada (developed from First Nations games)

You could maybe add some of the net sports — I think tennis is French — but those are only sort of team sports.

Anyway, you’re right in that the UK and its former colonies pretty much rule that list, although Canada is if anything more prominent on the list as the US. Maybe it’s just my bias. :wink:

You do realize that (American) football has zero wolrdwide popularity outside of North America? You could set Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, and Michael Vick down in any major city outside of North America and they could walk anonymously until they ran into an American.

I gather that the NFL is gaining popularity in the UK. Last time I was in London, my cab driver from the airport went on at great length with his predictions of who was going to the Super Bowl.

They also had an off-season league in Europe for a while, which I gather did get a reasonable amount of attention at the time. Anyway, based off of the sheer budgets, it’s still a big thing.

ETA: a number of the sports on the list have even smaller fanbases than American football. You could take the best netball player in the world and put them anywhere in the world (possibly including inside a stadium hosting a netball tournament?) and have no luck getting people to recognize them.

I think in part because organised sports require a reasonably affluent population with sufficient leisure time to participate or watch, and Britain and the US/Canada were among the first populous countries to get to that level of prosperity. The Industrial Revolution began in Britain, and all that.
Some of the major continental European soccer clubs we have today were founded by British ex-pats working as engineers and what have you.

It’s almost the same game as (Irish) Gaelic Football

As to *why *so many major team sports come from the Anglophone world, my guess is that it has something to do with the British boarding school system.

Which is a shame. American Football is THE team sport and underappreciated by many :slight_smile:

True, but I think the immense popularity within North America combined with the sheer revenue it generates allows it to be included in global sport discussions. Isn’t the Super Bowl broadcast all over the world? Are there other sports as popular as football within other countries, but exclusive to those countries?

Yes, but it can be argued that viewership of it in most other countries is driven by curiosity / interest in the biggest U.S. sporting event (which is arguably as much of a spectacle as it is a game), rather than interest in the sport itself. (And, I say this as a big fan of American football, myself.) IIRC, viewership of major international soccer matches is still much higher.

Yes, American football has more than a passing interest in a few other countries (the UK, as has been noted earlier, as well as Germany, possibly), but overall, the fan base for American football is still almost entirely in the U.S., and in most other countries, it’s quite tiny.

Basketball was invented by James Naismith, who was born Canadian but when he invented the sport was living and working in the USA, a country he would spend the rest of his life in. In any sense that matters it’s an American sport.

I would point out that people are mostly thinking of team sports and forgetting many of the world’s major individual sports.

Boxing dates back to Greek times; modern boxing was mostly codified in Great Britain.

Golf is a Scottish invention.

Actually, if you think about it, the world’s sports inventors are obviously the British, not the Americans. Even major American sports like baseball and football are descended from British games.

What exactly do you think they used to do at the original Olympic Games? Sit around and wonder ‘oh, if only we could come up with some sport to play’?