Do you love to experience local culture when travelling?
Yes? This post is for you.
No? Enjoy your all-inclusive resort.
Attending sports events as you travel is a great way to learn about cultures worldwide.
In this post I describe the experiences of 10 bloggers who wrote about a sports event they attended on the road (there are a few videos too).
After reading about experiences in Australia, Kyrgyzstan, USA, and a bunch more, you’ll be inspired to add a sports event, obscure or not, to your next vacation.
Lina Watches People On Horses Compete Over A Dead Goats Head (Kyrgyzstan)
“Foreign, exciting, bewildering, and fascinating”.
Those were the words Lina used to describe her introduction to Kok Boru. How many travel experiences can you think of where those four words are the perfect description? (Khao San Road doesn’t count)
Kok Boru has been a part of the nomadic culture for 500 years. It’s tough to describe but I guess it reminds me of horse polo – on steroids. No ball and sticks required. Just a dead goat that’s the centerpiece of the game and a lot of Kyrgyz people and horses.
This is a National sport of Kyrgyzstan.
Also, Lina, as a horse lover, got to ride one of the horses used in competition and learned Kyrgyz people don’t ride mares.
That’s like the best combo. Watching the sport, then interacting with the athletes.
The game involves many spiritual aspects, including the killing of the goat (read her post for more details).
Kok Baru is the baseball of Kyrgyzstan.
Jillian Sings The Night Away With Her Compatriots At The Soccer (Mexico)
Homesick? Watching your National team play live is a great cure.
Flying down to Mexico City Jillian watched the American soccer team play. By crikey, the atmosphere looks intense (and super fun).
What I learned most from her post is how misconceiving some of the reporting we see is.
She said some videos online make the atmosphere appear intimidating. In reality, the local fans are charming.
They’re interested to know why you’d travel to watch a game in their country. They may want photos with you which is always fun and ultimately everyone wants to have fun (ideally with a win). Though the Mexicans do like to throw beer on the opposition. All in fun and games.
Nathan Watches Turkish Oil Wrestlers Lather Up In Olive Oil (Turkey)
Nathan isn’t a sports fan. He’d be that guy visiting the food trucks around the stadium at the football.
But in Turkey, he went to a lot of effort to make his way out to a Turkish oil wrestling event in Kirkpinar.
Nope, this wasn’t a reality game show, oil wrestling is the National sport of Turkey and dates back to ancient times.
He didn’t expand too much in the post (photo heavy for the perves), though he did relay some of the events when we met in Chiang Mai.Specifically, seeing how far they were willing to put their arm into their opponents
pants kisbet was impressive. They do this all in the name of victory, no cheap shots allowed.
Prior to the match, opponents rub oil on each other showing both balance and mutual respect. Imagine Steph Curry tieing up Le Bron James’ shoes pre-match. Not going to happen.
Karisa Has Her Mind Blown By The Whole NASCAR Experience (USA)
Karisa went to a NASCAR event full of preconceived ideas. The same stereotypes you probably have about NASCAR (I think bogan). While many of the stereotypes are true, that isn’t a bad thing.
She admittedly knew sweet fuck all about NASCAR but that’s totally fine as you can chat to anyone really. She met super friendly die-hard fans (who were always offering her a drink) who were everyday people out enjoying fast cars and loud engines.
They fans were from a variety of backgrounds such as lawyers, business execs, nurses, tradies, and yes, many were females.
Many of them might be closet NASCAR fans, but where they get to the track they let loose and can be themselves surrounded by people with a similar passion. I’m dying to know what some of their t-shirts said, she didn’t elaborate on any in the post!
Seeing Americans being American would be super cool without them having to worry about ‘fitting in’ in their regular lives which so many of us are guilty of.
Paula Meets The Japanese Equal Of George Clooney (Japan)
In Japan, you might not see THE George Clooney but you can see the Japanese equivalent at the sumo wrestling.
The sumo wrestlers are the George Clooney.
Paula herself confessed about her new addiction in her post. Every day after skiing, she’d watch TV (a rare event for vacationers) as the incredible (20,000 calorie/day eating) athletes went belly to belly (wine in hand no doubt).
She couldn’t not go to an event now and the experience was just as cool in the flesh. She got to see all the colours, noise, and rituals that are important in Japanese culture and make sumo what it is.
Sumo is more than big lads pushing each other. They get identified from a young age as potential wrestlers, the stars of Japan.
Caz Embraces The Chance To Sing ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ At The Baseball (USA)
Caz isn’t a baseball fan, but in Northern Carolina, her family went along to a Durham Bulls game. That didn’t ring any bells for me but yes, they are the Durham Bulls from the movie Bull Durham.
She loved the atmosphere at the game. Rating baseball as an iconic American cultural experience. There’s a reason baseball makes it into so many TV shows.
And let’s be honest, we’re all slightly jealous she got to do the seventh innings stretch. That’s the time everyone sings ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’.
Sarah & Juice Gate Crash A Tailgate Party Enroute To The Footy (USA)
It’s fair to say we all would love to spend time at a NFL tailgate party.
Sarah & Juice got adopted by the 4th & Jawn tailgate (they even have a website!) where banter was epic as they go to understand what makes an epic tailgate party.
Entering the stadium the atmosphere changed. From friendly and chatty to brutal and focused as kick off approached.
Sports events are a pretty easy way to meet people. They didn’t know E-Rock when they woke up, but got to know all sorts about Philly and what the team means to the people.
During the game Sarah came to a conclusion. A lot of people from Philly look and sound like Danny DeVito after chatting to people throughout the day.
Chris Risks His Marriage By Taking His Wife To The Cricket (Australia)
Cricket is one of the more polarising sports around the world. Chris loves cricket and managed to drag Heather to her first game when they were in Australia. The shortened version of the game that’s all over in three hours (the best way to introduce people to cricket).
Aussies love cricket! Chris noticed differences to the game back home, especially the entertainment.
I find the differences how a country goes about running a sports event interesting. Why wouldn’t they serve beer at footy? That’s where they make the big bucks!
He never mentioned what Heather thought of the sport though, hmmm.
Samuel Is Torn On Who To Support Watching Gaelic Football, A Sports He Can’t Comprehend (Ireland)
Samuel went along to the All-Seniors Championship match in Dublin. The biggest Gaelic Football match in Ireland.
Rooting for the underdogs, Kerry, he didn’t have a clue what was going on had a blast watching 82,000 fans go crazy..
After seeing the atmosphere build up in the city in advance he got to join in on some of the classic sports chants at the match, and then see how Dubliners celebrate victory.
Sometimes You’re Bamboozled Like At The Soccer In Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
Malaysians love football and Kuala Lumpur is a massive city. That made reading this post from James interesting.
They went to one of the most important Kuala Lumpur FA matches in recent years. If they won, KLFA was guaranteed to promotion to Malaysia’s top league.
KLFA were even giving out free tickets to the match, yet 90% of the stadium was empty. Why?
This is why you need to read the post. They dive into the reasons behind the poor crowd.
My TL;DR version: Citizens of KL don’t have the city in their bloodline. So those who follow football aren’t born into the culture of being KLFA supporters.
Back to the night, they were glad to see the supporters allowed onto the field after winning to celebrate with the players.
There are a lot of ways we can experience local culture on the road. I hope you’re feeling inspired to seek out an event on your next adventure, meet some people, see some cool shit, and make memories that’ll last a lifetime (cliche as).
In the last few months I’ve experienced plenty of sports around Europe, including:
- sitting with the ultra supporters from Partizan FC in Belgrade (they’re harmless).
- hearing the roar of Barcelona fans every time Ronaldinho touched the ball at Camp Nou
- being wowed watching Red Bull cliff divers jump 21+ metres off the famous bridge in Mostar
Is sport the best way to experience local culture? YES!
Now It’s Your Turn
YOUR SAY: If you’ve attended an event overseas, share some details in the comments below.
TAKE ACTION:It’s time to consider including a sports event on your next trip. It’s not always easy to figure out events in some countries so I’m happy to help. Send me a message on Facebook or Instagram with your destination(s) and date(s) and I’ll get back to you with a few options.