[[quoteright:350:[[Film/RockyIV http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rockydrago_1495.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago resolve the UsefulNotes/ColdWar [[LetsFightLikeGentlemen like gentlemen.]] Well, almost.]]

->''"Sport is war minus the shooting."''
-->-- '''Creator/GeorgeOrwell'''

Our story is about a valiant hero, a professional sports/video games/pogosticking champion who is preparing or going to a major tournament for his preferred skill. Normally, these tournaments are contained entirely within the main character's country, as in there are no foreigners competing.

But for this special episode/movie, there is a great threat on the horizon ... there is a foreigner rival who might just be even better than the hero, if not possibly '''''the best in the whole world!'''''

For some reason, this coincidental clash of titans from across the globe always seems to turn into a showdown between the two representative countries. For example: Who is better, America's best player or Japan's best player? It's implied that whoever wins proves that their country is better as a whole, not just at this particular sport.

Used in different mediums for different reasons. Often used patriotically, because the main character lives in your country, and they win! Sometimes used to introduce a new archnemesis and spice up the show's competitors. This is probably a trope because it tends to happen in RealLife.


* ''Manga/HajimeNoIppo'': The match of Takamura against Bryan Hawk for the world title. It takes place in a Japanese boxing hall, so basically the entire audience is rooting for Takamura. It helps that Bryan Hawk is blatantly racist against the "weak" Japanese.
* The World Youth Cup arc in ''Manga/{{Eyeshield 21}}''.
* ''[[Anime/MobileFighterGGundam G Gundam]]'' is basically summed up with this trope, plus with earth as the battlefield and most of the population in space, the winner would literally be the strongest, and only, person on Earth. In fact the Gundam Fight was created to provide a (comparatively) peaceful alternative to war. The country whose representative wins the fight gets to rule over all the colonies for the next four years.
* The UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga Tournament in ''Manga/{{Yaiba}}'' includes participants from all over the world, and Yaiba even fought a European Knight. However it ended up with only Japanese Finalists.
* ''Anime/SamuraiChamploo'' gleefully lampoons this trope in the episode "Baseball Blues", in which a group of Japanese peasants play a baseball game against a crew of brutish Americans, and the fate of Edo Era Japan hangs in the balance over the outcome. Naturally this is all played out within Champloo's typically anachronistic, exaggerated idiom. [[spoiler: The most patriotic of the Japanese players are picked off in comical ways, while only Mugen (A thug with no patriotic fervour whatsoever) saves the country single handedly.]]
* The team of foreigners in ''Manga/ThePrinceOfTennis'' (the ones who show up at Nationals, not the team from the Junior Senbatsu arc of the anime). Their playstyle is extremely violent, and they openly ridicule the Japanese team they play against, and Japanese tennis in general. Of course, the Japanese team was losing on purpose, and they win by a large margin once they begin playing seriously. Then they mock the foreigners' arrogance... in (equally broken) English.
* The world tournament series of the anime ''VideoGame/{{Medabots}}'' contains a truly stunning amount of cultural clichés (to be fair Team Japan don't get off lightly either) but the worst by far were Team France, who all sported twirly moustaches, spoke in exaggerated French accents and crept around in black cloaks lying and cheating their way to victory. This was so blatant it might possibly be considered a parody of the trope.
** Also incredibly stereotyped were the Canadians who sported at least four layers of snow gear and Medabots designed specifically for a snowy winter arena. They also unknowingly added "Eh?" to the end of sentences and used "aboot". And a blizzard was considered a "light dusting".
*** Though one could easily argue that would be the dub production company taking pot shots at themselves.

* IronMan's first encounter with DirtyCommunist villain the Titanium Man was in the context of a televised battle on neutral territory agreed upon by the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
* In an early ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' story, a war between Mega-City One and a [[TheGreatPoliticsMessUp Sov-controlled East-Meg One]] is fought by fielding small four-man teams from each Mega-City against one another in an Olympics-style competition...to the death.

* The beginning of ''Film/{{Kickboxer}}'', where Creator/JeanClaudeVanDamme's JerkAss brother is a champion kickboxer, and decides to take on a Thai champion, [[BigBad Tong Po]]. [[CurbStompBattle It doesn't go well for him.]]
* ''Film/RockyIV'' is the UsefulNotes/ColdWar '''''[[RecycledInSpace with boxing!!!!]]''''' Unspoiler: The American wins, and [[AnAesop everyone learns a valuable lesson]] about PatrioticFervour.
* ''Film/RobotJox'', where wars are replaced by GiantMecha fights, complete with cheering (and easily smashed) crowd. [[spoiler: The film ends with Achilles and Alexander evidently becoming friends instead of the expected fight to the death.]]
* Given that it's [[{{Mockumentary}} a send-up of Olympic coverage]], ''WesternAnimation/{{Animalympics}}'' has these overtones.
* Fighters from the Japanese military were the primary villains in ''Film/IpMan'', and Twister, the villain of '' Film/IpMan2'' was essentially a British version of the above mentioned [[Film/RockyIV Ivan Drago]].
* Downplayed considerably in ''Film/ChariotsOfFire'', in which the national teams are [[FriendlyEnemy more amiable]] toward one another then [[OpposingSportsTeam might be expected]]. Probably TruthInTelevision, as PatrioticFervour was ''very unfashionable indeed'' for many years after after UsefulNotes/WorldWarI.
* Cyberpunk BMovie ''Future Sport'' (starring Dean Cain) has two teams of a HoverBoard RollerBall rip-off (one representing the US of A, one representing a consortium of Asiatic nations) battling over sovereignty of Hawaii. Of course, the consortium players were not above kidnapping and assassination to get an edge...
* Inverted in Korean table tennis movie ''Film/AsOne''. The governments of North Korea and South Korea merge their national table tennis teams into one unified team, which competes together and wins the world championship, thus fostering International Friendship By Proxy.
* The duel in ''Film/TheLifeAndDeathOfColonelBlimp'' is a fight between a British soldier outraged by German accusations of atrocities in the Boer War, and a German officer selected by lot to fight him.
* ''Film/{{Miracle}}'', which is {{based on|ATrueStory}} the US trying to defeat the Soviet Union at Olympic ice hockey in 1980.
* ''Film/TheMightyDucks II'' has the Ducks becoming an international hockey team and playing every other nation, climaxing with Iceland. It's an egregious example of the SortingAlgorithmOfEvil when this is the plot of the sequel, and the original movie had an OpposingSportsTeam made of perfectly ordinary boys.
* Parodied in ''Film/TalladegaNightsTheBalladOfRickyBobby'' with over-the-top [[EagleLand Eaglelander]] Ricky Bobby vs. queer (in every sense of the word) Frenchman Jean Girard. [[note]]The movie was released at a time when a higher than usual number of Americans held a rather poor view toward the French[[/note]]

* Polish crime writer Joanna Chmielewska in her short story idea proposed the ultimate solution of Cold War: a boxing match between the Soviet Secretary and the President of US. The Americans, of course, immediately impeached their president and elected a professional boxer, while the Soviet leader had to undergo TrainingFromHell. The result was [[spoiler: left to reader's imagination]].
* A short story by Creator/BernardWerber takes this trope and combines it with BloodSport. In the future, ''all'' international situations are resolved by televised soccer matches where anything goes (up to and including killing players), turning the stadium into a multi-biome obstacle course, allowing the use of jetpacks, radar and mixed-gender teams... The only rule remaining is that you can't touch the ball with your hands. The name of the story? BreadAndCircuses.
* The second ''Literature/RedDwarf'' novel, ''Better Than Life'' has this as part of the backstory for the [[GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke GELFs]]. When humanity becomes too good at their favourite pastime (War), scientists shift their focus onto sport (Described as the new war), firstly through chemical enhancements, then through genetically engineering purpose-built athletes for different sports. Of course, [[ObviousRulePatch limits are put in place]] after the Scottish football team fields a goalie in UsefulNotes/TheWorldCup who was nothing more than a massive oblong of flesh that is [[SarcasmMode coincidentally]] the same dimensions as the goal.
* Played for laughs in ''[[Literature/EarthCentAmbassador Alien Night on Union Station]]'' when the human characters realize that several alien cultures have taken the SeriousBusiness of a hot new virtual reality {{MMORPG}} (something like ''VideoGame/EliteDangerous'' on steroids) to the point where they think the Earth government is trying to use the game as a way to get around the Stryx ban on interstellar warfare. This is partly because [=EarthCent=] Ambassador Kelly [=Frank-McAllister=] is the stepmother of one of the top human guild leaders. (They aren't, it really is just a video game to the humans and Kelly is astounded when she realizes the problem.)

* Part of the plot for the latest revamp of ''Series/ISpy'', where American Heavyweight champion boxer Kelly Robinson decides to take on "European Champion" Cedric Mills, who's generically Eastern European.
* On ''Series/HeadOfTheClass'' when the Headsters took on a Soviet team in [[strike:a trivia quiz]] an academic meet, both when the Soviets came to the US and later when the Class went to Moscow.
-->'''Dr. Samuels:''' After today, the Red Menace will have red faces.\\
'''Mr. Moore:''' [[SarcasmMode Why don't we just nuke 'em and forget it?]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* In pro wrestling, the ForeignWrestlingHeel is a stock type of {{heel}}.
* Canada-USA-Mexico hostilities are a calling card of Monterrey based LLF. It started because many luchadoras were discouraged or blocked from working for LLF when it began due to more established area promoters being hostile to it, so LLF ended up contacting groups north of the border such as Special Events and Glory to [[SerendipityWritesThePlot fill its locker room.]]
* Ayako Hamada is Mexican, but since she's the daughter of a legendary Japanese wrestler, the LLF card read Mexico vs Japon when she brought Emi Tojo from Jd' to serve as [[TagTeam her partner]] against Polly Star and Princesa Sugey.
* Irish Whip Wrestling amusingly had a match in 2006 featuring the Scottish [[Wrestling/DrewMcIntyre Drew Galloway]] fighting the Irish Wrestling/{{Sheamus}} O'Shaunessy inside the Verona Football Club wearing blue while Sheamus was wearing green. Yes, it was mostly coincidental, but sometimes you can't stop a trope from coming into play.
* In the World Wrestling League's lead up to crown its first champion of the Americas, this ended up being the case between Phenomenal BJ (Puerto Rico), Joe Bravo (Dominican Republic) and Laredo Kid (Mexico). Each even got to be the [[AHeroToHisHometown hometown]] {{face}} for a while, since the promotion ran shows in all three areas.

* ''Theatre/{{Chess}}'' is essentially about one or more UsefulNotes/ColdWar proxy showdowns, with the first act always featuring a highly publicized chess match between an American chess player and a Russian chess player. The political undertones are emphasized in the Diplomats' Chorus ("It's the U.S. versus U.S.S.R."). Predictably, the contest is [[ManipulativeBastard manipulated behind the scenes]].
->'''Walter Decoursy:''' It really doesn't matter who comes out on top.
->'''Alexander Molokov:''' Who gets the chop.
->'''Both:''' No one's way of life is threatened by a flop... But we're gonna smash their bastard!

* ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'': Takes this trope and [[UpToEleven creates a world where all international conflicts are conducted through]] [[SeriousBusiness games of table tennis]] in their [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/6/25/ Paint The Line]] story.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' in the form of a hyperbolic advertisement for an upcoming soccer game;
-->'''Announcer:''' This will prove once and for all which is the greatest country in the world: Mexico, or Portugal?

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Soccer is notorious for [[FootballHooligans rioting and fights]] breaking out at games. Disputed matches between countries where both the sport is [[SeriousBusiness extremely popular]] and [[PatrioticFervour national feelings run high]] have led to ''hundreds of deaths,'' especially in Latin America.
** Actually, in 1969 [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_War the start of a real WAR]] occured during riots following heated game of soccer.
* The buildup and aftermath of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots Nika riots]] of Constantinople make this OlderThanPrint, though in this particular case it was more akin to a showdown of political parties.
* This happened in real life with ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' at a huge tournament called Genesis, where the best North American player (and up until that point generally considered best player in the world) came one hit away from losing the grand finals to Europe's best player. Watching the matches, it comes down to a lot of cheering on both sides for their respective player/country.
* The so-called "Miracle on Ice", both in RealLife and the movie they made about it.
** Less known but no less awesome is the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summit_Series Summit Series]] between Canada and the Soviet Union, an invitational tournament consisting of eight exhibition games. Canadian Paul Henderson [[DownToTheLastPlay scored the winning goal of the last game (until then, the tournament had been a tie) with under a minute left to play.]]
* UsefulNotes/TheWorldCup.
** The UsefulNotes/EuropeanChampionship as well, especially when the Soviet Union played in the 1964 final against Spain.
* The UsefulNotes/OlympicGames. Turned UpToEleven in 1936 by Nazi Germany, but the overtones of [[UsefulNotes/MisplacedNationalism national dick-measuring]] never really went away afterwards.
** Most games between 1948 and 1992 were basically the UsefulNotes/ColdWar being really fought - to the point both Moscow '80 and Los Angeles '84 had the opposing parties boycotting the games.
*** On top of that, there were other diplomatic incidents at the Olympics not directly linked to the Cold War - most notably the Munich Massacre in the 1972 Games, and the African boycott of 1976.
* The infamous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_in_the_Water_match "Blood in the Water"]] polo match between Hungary and the USSR. Right on the heels of a Soviet invasion to put down a rebellion, the game degenerated into one of the most violent and emotional sporting events of the time.
* Any major gaming tournament, such as Evolution 2K. It's most obvious in 2D {{FightingGame}}s, where the mindset can usually be broken down to "Daigo Umehara (Japan) vs Justin Wong (USA)".
* Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spasky in Iceland in 1972. Pity Bobby was insane and Spasky was not a serious communist party member. (Unlike Karpov who took over after Bobby went into hiding.)
* The second boxing match between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling was very much one of these. The bout happened just a little over a year before the start of WWII, and Schmeling had become a huge propaganda hero in Germany both for briefly holding the world title and defeating Louis years earlier. With the coming conflict seemingly inevitable, the eyes of the world were on the bout, which was viewed as a showdown between America and Nazi Germany. (Even if Schmeling himself was very much ''not'' a Nazi, and in fact lost favor with Hitler after shielding Jewish children from the Nazi regime.) The result was an epic CurbStompBattle where Louis crushed Schmeling in a single round and was seen as a vindication for American and a blow to Hitler's "master race", all the more so because Louis was black.
* UsefulNotes/TheSpaceRace - relatively non-violent, and used repurposed military technology. Accusations of cheating were surprisingly few. Culminated in he [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo-Soyuz_Test_Project Apollo-Soyuz joint flight.]]
** That's not to say cheating didn't happen. The original first few Soviet space flights are technically invalidated because the pilot parachuted out of his craft once in atmosphere (aviation records must require the pilot to be in the craft in order to qualify) and the first life form in space never made it back (not because of design flaw... it was never intended to make a return trip...).
* [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Cliburn Van Cliburn]] was given a ticker-tape parade through New York after winning a piano competition in Moscow in 1958, the only time such an honor has been given to a classical musician.
* The British media treats all competitions between England and either Germany or Argentina as this. They still won't let Germany forget that they beat them in the World Cup final in 1966. For the most part, Germans and Argentinians just tend to ignore it.
* OlderThanFeudalism: The Horatii (Rome) vs. the Curatii (Alba Longa). Since this particular bit of history was written down by a Roman (Livius), you can guess who wins.