Germans Love David Hasselhoff / Sports

  • Jan-Ove Waldner, one of the best table tennis players in the world, is by far the most well-known table tennis player in Sweden. In China he's even more popular, where table tennis is a big deal, Waldner is nicknamed "The Evergreen Tree" for his perstant playstyle and is a living legend.
  • Bandy, a sport roughly described as field hockey on ice (with a ball) originated in England, but is today nearly exclusive to the Nordic countries and Russia.
  • The first game of Baseball as we know it was in America, and it is still popular in the original country with the sport being called "America's National Pastime." However, baseball is also immensely popular in East Asia and Latin America—it's been a favorite sport in both Cuba and Japannote  for over 100 years, while (South) Korea is nearly as baseball-mad as Japan, Taiwan has youth baseball on its money, and the Dominican Republic is obsessed with the sport—it basically doesn't have any others. Italy, Spain, and Australia all have professional leagues in their own nations (although most Australians are unaware theirs even exists). In Nicaragua the national Baseball stadium is bigger than the national soccer stadium and any Nica who makes it to the Major Leagues is Serious Business. Furthermore, the 2013 World Baseball Classic featured such teams as the Czech Republic, France, Israel, South Africa, The Netherlands (who made it all the way to the semi-final round), and Germany, who hosted the first round.
  • Basketball was indeed invented in America by a Canadian and remains most popular in the US and Canada, but the sport is immensely popular in much of Europe and parts of Latin America, especially in countries neighboring the US, and in many Asian countries, China in particular. Particularly, it is the "national sport" in Lithuania.
    • Likewise the Philippines, being a former American Colony. You can't walk further than a block without seeing a basketball hoop somewhere in the vicinity, every young boy in the country knows how to play, and will actually prefer to play barefoot. The country is obsessed. There was even a documentary about it.
  • Bullfighting probably originated in Rome, but has in modern times been endemic to Spain, Portugal, Southern France, and Latin America.
  • Curling is a Scottish game, yet anyone who has paid any attention at all to it (even via stereotype) knows that Canada has become the true power and home of the the sport, having dominated international competition for decades. There are an estimated 1.5 million curlers (people who play at least semi-regularly) in the world. Approximately 1.3 million of them are in Canada. And not just in playing. Canada's National Research Council has supported projects involving the sport such as studying methods of controlling condensation on the ice. Curling is Serious Business.
  • Volleyball originates from America and while it is popular there, it's not top-level (to the point the country went years without a professional volleyball league). In Brazil however, specially after victorious generations in both indoors and beach volleyball, it's popularity is practically only behind soccer.
  • Cricket originated from England and is popular in the UK and many Commonwealth nations, but soccer overshadows it as the most popular sport; whereas in India and Sri Lanka, Cricket is the most popular sport in those nations and Cricket stars get near-god-like celebrity status, on par with movie stars and actors. Australians are cricket-mad enough to sometimes see their first victory over England in the sport as part of the birth of their national character. Believe it or not, Australia's treasurer actually wrote an article about this.
  • Motor racing was originated from France where it was the venue of many motorsport events like Peking to Paris and 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it has largely enjoyed around the world. Not to mention the French people are less enthusiastic about it, however. Its governing body, Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, being located in France doesn't help either.
  • Motorcycle speedway was invented in Australia, but is today nearly endemic to Europe, especially Poland.
  • Rugby originated from England; and is very popular in the UK and other Commonwealth nations, but soccer overshadows it as the most popular sport; whereas in Australia and New Zealand, rugby is basically the national pastime (although it shares that distinction in Australia with Australian Rules Football).
  • Although Association Football was generated in England and is immensely popular in Europe, it was in South America (especially in Argentina and Brazil, long time soccer rivals) which its popularity really soared. As a Brazilian saying goes: "The English invented football, the Brazilians perfected it." Its importance in South America is so big that the word was changed to fit Spanish phonetics (fútbol) while Mexico still uses the unmodified phonetic (futból). It has also gained immense popularity in Africa, with teams like Ghana and the Ivory Coast challenging the established footballing superpowers, and has recently also become so in Asia, in thanks to its simple rules (other than perhaps the offside rule, which almost no one actually understands) and the only requirement is a ball and two goalposts (or at least anything that resembles a goalpost, like a space between two trashcans, or two t-shirts/jumpers or something). However, like anything in life, you can't please everyone, and what prevents it from being truly a "World Game" is that the sport has had difficulty in gaining a following in Oceania (most notably Australia and New Zealand) and North America north of Mexico (especially in Canada and the United States), but even in these countries, soccer is still very popular at least as a recreational and youth sport and their national team is still well supported. Furthermore, the Beautiful Game has been picking up in Australia ever since the national team (the Socceroos) reached the Round of 16 in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It has also done so in the rest of North America, following the US' unexpected success at the 2014 World Cup, in which they slumped to noble defeat after Extra Time against a highly rated Belgium team (no, really, they were ranked #2 in the World not so long ago) in the round of 16 after fighting their way out of the 'Group of Death', including highly rated Ghana, established superpower Portugal and eventual World Champions Germany, and increased global attention on the Women's World Cup in Canada in 2015, which the US won, while England's 'Lionesses' won the hearts of neutrals everywhere with a never say die attitude and skilful football that took them to the semi-finals and had them within an inch of advancing to the final, after bossing then World Champions Japan all over the pitch and making them look distinctly average. Then, they proved that they were very definitely England team by exiting through the cruellest of own goals in the very last seconds of normal time - England pushed for a winner, Japan counter-attacked at speed and put a cross into the box, England defender Laura Bassett had to intercept it at full stretch to prevent one of the Japan strikers from having the easiest of tap ins. The ball looped off her toe and into the top corner. Full credit to them, though, they picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and promptly beat Germany for the first time in their history in the third place play-off to take the Bronze Medal.
  • On a club to club basis, for some unfathomable reason, Liverpool FC is wildly popular in Norway. While Liverpool, as the second most successful club in English history, is massively popular all around the world, particularly in the US, South East Asia and Australia, something taken advantage of with summer tours, no one's ever figured out exactly why they're so beloved in Norway. The success of fan-favourite Norwegian full-back/winger John Arne Riise, who won almost every trophy possible with Liverpool save for the league title, might have something to do with it.
  • The word "soccer", an abbreviation of Association Football, is used in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Japan, and several other countries to distinguish the different "footballs". However in Britain, the word's country of origin (no, really), as well as other countries that have soccer... er, football as the number one sport, the word seems to make a lot of people cringe. For some reason though, despite its British origins, the Americans are normally blamed and flamed for the creation of the word.
  • American Football is very popular in Canada, mainly this is because Canadian Football; the second most popular sport in the country behind Hockey, is basically quite similar to American Football, with some notable differences. Toronto for example, has plenty of Buffalo Bills fans, and the team has even had games played there. Some Canadians have even pushed for NFL teams in Canada; but that isn't likely to happen anytime soon, mainly due to the existence of the Canadian Football League.
  • In the early 1990s, the Canadian Football League started up four teams in the United States. Three of those teams didn't do very well. The fourth, however, moved into Baltimore, Maryland, which had been football-starved ever since the Baltimore Colts snuck out of town in the middle of the night in 1983. Baltimore welcomed their new CFL team with open arms. The team, which changed names from "Colts" to "CFL Colts" to "CFLs" to "Stallions" due to the NFL calling trademark on the Colts name, was turning a significant profit. When the CFL administration decided to end the USA expansion there was talk of leaving the Stallions. However, the NFL was preparing to relocate the Cleveland Browns into Baltimore as the Ravens, and the CFL decided that trying to compete wasn't worth the risk. The Stallions moved to Montreal and became the second Montreal Alouettes (the original team folded in 1987).
  • Believe it or not, American Football is surprisingly popular in Germany of all places. There is a national league (founded in 1979) and when a TV station decided to bring American Football back to free TV, they got five times the predicted audience share, despite the fact that the "afternoon" games start at 19:00 (7PM) German time and people have to stay up to 2:00 AM on a Sunday to watch the second game. The NFL Europe also consisted of only German teams with one Dutch team in its last season. The only other country in Europe that comes close to German levels of American Football craziness is Austria. When they lost the final of the European Championship 2014 (yes, such a thing exists) to Germany (27:30 in double overtime) 27000 fans turned out to Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium. And Austrian TV carried every single game - even those without Austria in them.
  • The Baltimore Ravens were originally the Cleveland Browns, before moving to Baltimore in '96. Most current Browns fans hate the Ravens because they feel like the Ravens backstabbed them. There are, however, a minority of Cleveland football fans who root for the Ravens as the "real Browns" and consider the current Browns an In-Name-Only imposter.
  • While Ice Hockey was created in Canada and is immensely popular there, it is also popular in Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the Northern United States. Not so much in the Southern United States though considering that there is little to no snow in those areas and hockey is obviously popular in places where it snows in the winter, although Los Angeles and Dallas are two exceptions—possibly because those areas have large populations of transplanted Northerners. Both cities (along with LA's neighbor Anaheim) have won The Stanley Cup, and titles also helped Raleigh, North Carolina and Tampa, Florida earn fanbases for their respective teams.
  • Sumo, a form of folk wrestling, was invented in Japan and is immensely popular there (though the professional scene has suffered recently, particularly in the wake of some nasty scandals), but it has also enjoyed popularity in Mongolia, Eastern Europe, and the Pacific.
  • As for individuals, German-Vietnamese gymnast Marcel Nguyen won a silver medal in the all-around for Germany and became very popular there as a result. However, he's even more popular in Hong Kong, and he has absolutely no idea why.
  • Another athlete-specific version: Stan "The Man" Musial was one of the greatest baseball players of the 1940s and 1950s and was very beloved in his time, but faded into national obscurity because he was never a Yankee and because he was too nice. Then he took a trip to Tahiti and Australia with his family two decades after he retired and unwittingly found caches of die-hard Musial fans in both countries.
  • Football/soccer play-by-play man Ian Darke was at best a second-tier broadcaster in the UK, his native country. In the United States however, he's considered THE voice of the game. He became instantly popular with several of his calls during the 2010 World Cup, became the voice for both the US Men's and Women's National Teams, and is widely credited as a major reason why the game is becoming more popular in the US.
  • Most of the teams competing in VEX Robotics Competition are from the US, VRC's country of origin, but it also has strongholds in China and other Asian countries, as well as New Zealand.
  • German Football team Borussia Dortmund has gained in popularity in Poland, ever since their back-to-back German championships in the 2010's. It's not a surprise, given that their squad includes Polish national players like Lukasz Piszczeck or Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski. Not to mention Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who played for the BVB until the 2013-14 season, before switching to their main national rivals, Bayern Munich.
  • Stephon Marbury is most well-known in North America for being a good, but not great, player who didn't fully reach his potential. In 2011 he joined the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association, and has reached megastar status. Among other things, he has a statue in Beijing, was granted permanent residence in China for "outstanding contributions" to the country, and just had a museum dedicated to him opened in Beijing.
  • Canadian ice skater Kevin Reynolds has huge Japanese fanbase, due in no small part to his performances taking inspiration from Japanese culture, such as his 2016 routine set to the opening theme of Cowboy Bebop, all while dressed up as Spike Spiegel.

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