Best Sporting Events to See in Foreign Countries
One of the most fun and immersive ways to explore a new culture is to participate in viewing a local sporting event. It’s true, there is nothing like a little competition, often times a little beer, and a lot of fun cheering with the locals to get a real experience of the cultural cross-section of a new country. So get out your vuvzela, your cowbell, or whatever you need to make some noise, grab some tickets, and let’s get in the mix!
Cock-fighting in the Philippines.
First off, disclaimer, if you are not into seeing animals die or you are sensitive to the sight of a little blood then this is not for you. Now, for everyone else one of the best ways to get right into the mix of the Filipino community is to go to a cockfight. The male dominated audience will be cheering and making stiff bets almost every Sunday in any town in the Philippines. Known to the locals as The Derby, you get to see cocks go to war, the winner going to glory, the loser going to soup ingredients. There is even a cockfighting arena in the major cities like Manila. But don’t be surprised if you make a few friends, just don’t make bets unless you know what you are doing because there are consequences (ass beatings) for those that can’t pay up.
Muay Thai Kickboxing in Thailand
With names like “The Most Dangerous Sport in the World” and “King of Martial Arts” you don’t have to worry about the excitement of this event. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and fighters get in the ring at such a young age don’t be surprised to see a 14 year old with 200 fights under his or her belt. You can see a fight in several locations any weekend, particularly in front of many of the malls, but for the most authentic experience you should head to Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, which is known as the Mecca of the Kickboxing in the world.
Football in England
As an Americano oversees one of the big adjustments I’ve had to make is by calling soccer by it’s proper name, football, and by learning everything about it I can if I ever hope to talk sports with the rest of the world. Football is truly the world’s sport, but perhaps no place is more exciting to see a match than in England. Crazy fans chanting songs for each of their favorite players living and dying on every goal, this is a must. Try to hit a big game and catch some of the better-known teams for the full experience, such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Newcastle United, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Sumo Wrestling in Japan
Do I really need to go into further explanation here about why this is awesome? Two giant men crashing into each other at full speed to determine supremacy of a small dirt circle, now that could be the most ancient sport of them all. No place of course does it better than Japan where the well-fed wrestlers live like superstars and the culture and the tradition of the sport is as rich and old as that of a tea ceremony. In this sport you can feel the ancient samurai spirit of Japan.
Hurling in Ireland
Hurling was a completely unknown sport to me, that is until I met another super traveler, all around awesome dude, and professional hurler Diarmuid Lyng on a journey from China through Nepal to Tibet. Needless to say he had a little time to explain it. With a tradition that goes way back in Gaelic history almost 3,000 years perhaps no game represents a culture like Hurling. Called the fastest game on grass, hurling is a team sport involving a wooden stick, a ball, body checking, a goal, speed, and skill. This Irish sport might just accidentally become your favorite.
Hopefully by now your blood is pumping, your throat is soar from cheering, and your hands are sweaty from adrenaline, and you have just participated in a cultural exchange and a local sporting event!
Next entry: Five Places to Start your Adventure in Beijing