by Winnie Chui
At Whatcom Community College, we see many faces. We have different races, we speak different languages, we have different cultures, we have different religions. We simply look different. However, we come together over sports.
There are thousands of sports with varying popularities in distinct countries. Some are so prevalent that everyone knows them, some of them are known solely by locals. Not only can sports bring us health, but also they can give us an understanding about international cultures.
What is the biggest difference between soccer and American football?
“We can use hands while playing American football, but we can’t while playing soccer except the goalkeeper,” said Sherman Leung, an 18-year-old student from Hong Kong.
American football is a unique and national sport in the United States. Football consists of 11 players on two teams who score points by advancing the ball into the other team’s end zone by crossing the goal line. Players have to tackle and block by using their bodies, requiring them to wear helmets and equipment for protection.
Compared to American football, soccer is more popular worldwide. Soccer was invented in England, and most countries refer soccer as football. Both American football and soccer share the same number of players. Yet, it is worth one point by sending the ball into the net in a soccer game; American football player can score either one, two, three or six points depending on the situation. Leung has played soccer with Americans before, and he said they are “really strong…They are taller and more robust than Asians.”
There are sports in which players do not have to directly touch the ball, like badminton. This sport can be played by two opposing players or two opposing pairs, who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court divided by a net. A shuttlecock has to be hit and passed over the net by their racquets in order to reach their rival’s court. The game ends once the shuttlecock touches the ground.
“I love badminton and it is fun,” said Dasuni Gurusinghe, a student from Sri Lanka. Badminton is less dangerous than American football because it is a contact sport, she said.
Table tennis is another racquet sport which is common in East Asia. It is a smaller scale version of tennis. In the nineteenth century, Europeans loved playing tennis, but because of the limited weather and venues, they moved the game indoors and played it on a table. Table tennis derives its nickname “ping pong” from the sound of the ball “ping ponging” on the table and paddles when hit back and forth.
Hughs Hung, an 18-year-old Taiwanese student, said ping-pong helps train his concentration and makes him feel confident when he wins the game. “I started playing ping-pong after watching the movie ‘Forest Gump’,” he added.
Fighting has been seen as a violent behavior in many cultures, but it can also be recognized as a sport in some Asian regions.
“A large population in China knows how to play basic martial arts,” said Nero Li, a Chinese student. Martial arts, also named kung fu, comprises numerous sets of fighting styles which have developed over hundreds of years. It is common that parents send children to learn kung fu. Li said he learned kung fu when he was young for a short period of time. “It is a good exercise,” he said, “and children can learn something to protect themselves.”
Sumo is a traditional sport which originated in Japan during the sixteenth century. This sport takes place in a circular ring in which two wrestlers force one another to step out of the ring or touch the ground with anything other than their feet. Sumo wrestlers usually have large body masses that enable them to defeat an opponent. The Nihon Sumo Association website indicates that most of the top division wrestlers weigh more than 140kg or 308 pounds.
Japanese student Kaneda Kenta said sumo is popular among the middle-aged and elder population. “Young people don’t like watching it,” said Kenta. “Watching fat people fighting is kind of boring.”