About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sports and culture: the case of the World Cup

Yesterday, my son watched the England vs. USA soccer world cup game. As I am sure there was a different vibe in England, this was actually well watched by many of my son's friends...even those that don't play soccer.

Throughout the game, my son was texting one of his best friends from grade school. "What are they thinking??" (The US). "They should be playing the Latin American game. They can't beat the Brits playing a European game.""Where are the middies?."

At the same time, I heard the commentators, "He's doing what a striker should do." "The D needs to mark his man. That's why they made that goal."

So I asked my son, "Do you think they use the same terminology to describe the game as they do in the US?"

His answer was that he once had watched one of the British league games on line and didn't understand a single thing the commentators were saying.

So this tells me a few things about the cultural differences in sports:

  1. There are cultural differences in strategies.  HOW a country plays the game depends on the cultural values they have on winning, "fair play", the team, individual team member responsibilities,  and the role of the sport in that country.
  2. Even in the same language, different terminology develops which reflects the region and country's values.  Sports terminology is one of the most culturally ingrained specialty language.  Study the sports terminology and its philology and you'll get a good idea of the culture's values.
  3. Sports has always been perceived as a uniting activity.  However, it can also be a dividing activity.
  4. Look to other cultures and their strategies to improve your own play and understanding of the sport.  This could then be used to advantage in other parts of your life (i.e. business, education).
Finally, a heartfelt thanks goes out to Andy Cloverdale for posting the link to the World Cup interactive calendar.  We've bookmarked it on delicious and access it daily as this is not a high priority for American Sports (although the US vs. England game was shown on US network TV).

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