Head to any country around the world, and you’ll quickly be able to find out what the local much-loved sport is. From football in an English city such as Liverpool to baseball in the centre of New York, finding out which sport is the most popular is an excellent starting point for those who want to learn about the identity of a new place.
However, while sport is clearly a global phenomenon, there’s also some evidence to suggest that it is highly localised in many ways. Certain types of sport are peculiar to particular regions: NFL, for example, is a largely North American phenomenon. Cricket is another example, with certain places – such as India, England and Australia – enjoying the bulk of this sport’s support. For a sports marketer, it can sometimes seem like an uphill battle to persuade people to pick up an interest in an all-new sport that seems to only be relevant to people who are thousands of miles away. However, it is possible – and this article will explain how.
Facts and figures
First off, it’s important to acknowledge the reality of the situation, which is that certain sports are bound to certain geographical regions. The National Football League in the US is a prime example of this. While there are 40 million non-Americans around the world who watch the Super Bowl, this figure pales into insignificance once it is known that over 100 million Americans watch the big match.
For international tournaments in which many different countries play, there’s still an inequality, with viewers in some of those countries more likely to watch these games than others. Despite the fact that many nations around the world enter teams in football tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup, for example, interest levels in football are very high in some places (such as Nigeria, with an 83% rate of interest) and low in others (with even Canada showing rates of under a third).
The global media village
How can these imbalances be rectified? From the point of view of a sports marketer or a person tasked with promoting sport in a certain place, the best thing to do is to ensure that the tools of the global media can be leveraged to provide everyone with the opportunity to enjoy sports. In an age when sports matches in a far-flung destination are available to be screened either through television or through web streaming services, it’s likely that as modes of dissemination like these become more popular, the level of worldwide interest in sports from other cultures will rise.
There are other ways that the media, especially the online media, can be used to enhance interest. One such way is through the use of betting systems. Interest in sport is often driven up when people have the opportunity to win some cash off the back of a match! There are a number of sportsbook news site options available for those who want to get the knowledge they need to place bets, so it’s now easier than ever for those who are potentially interested in sport to get the information they need to participate – even across borders.
Overcoming this country-by-country attitude to sport will also be affected in part by cultural shifts. Until relatively recently, it was very common for most cultural trends to remain entirely self-contained in their home nations. It’s only been in recent decades that a culture of positivity has emerged around bringing together different cultures: television shows, music and more now cross borders without too much difficulty. While it’s perhaps easier to export a self-contained TV series than it is to train a new generation of people in an unfamiliar sport, as the years go on, it’s likely that these barriers will fall away and this sort of international sharing will also happen to sport.
Sport is a key node in the culture of almost every country on Earth, but this article has shown that while sport is a global phenomenon, it is also a territorial one – and many nations can be quite possessive over what they consider to be their national sport. Building global interest in sport, then, may seem like a challenge. However, thanks to the potential for advertising, cultural changes and even changes to the media landscape, it is certainly possible to enhance worldwide interest in sports – even when geographical barriers are in place.