The University of Iowa

American sports culture

February 13th, 2014

By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, allows both the country I’m from (China) and the country I currently live in (United States) to compete against each other in many different sports. But outside of this event, I have learned from personal experience the differences between Chinese and American sports.

In China, people prefer to watch sports rather than participate in them. But it seems as if Americans not only enjoy watching sports but also engaging in them. Even though Chinese people like to buy tickets to watch soccer, basketball, and other sports, it seems as though Americans are more obsessed with their favorite teams and players.

In the United States, football, basketball, and baseball are very popular sports to play, but in China people are more likely to participate in moderate-level sports such as Tai Chi and Kung Fu.

Before I came to the United States, I had never heard of (American) football. So when I watched football here for the first time, I was totally confused. I tried to look up the rules online in order to keep up with the sports anchor, but I was still completely lost and a long way from becoming a true football fan. What do the numbers 10 and 20 on the field mean? Why do the players come together when they are stopped by the “referee”?

Even though it’s still confusing to me, I think football in the United States is similar to Cu Ju in ancient China. The difference is in football, the players use their hands, while in Cu Ju, they use their feet. It was the first form of soccer, and its original purpose was to train the soldiers in ancient China. Now, it has transformed into the game of soccer.

Most Chinese males like to play basketball or soccer, while most Chinese females prefer to kick around a birdie, used in badminton, (Ti Jian Zi) or jump rope (Tiao Pi Jin).

In China, more old people like to play sports than young people because they want to stay healthy and live longer. Young people don’t care about exercising until they’re older, and schools in China used to only have a small number of PE classes. But that has recently changed, and now, there is more of a concentration in student health and encouraging students to participate in sports.

I’ve realized that people here make sports and fitness a big part of their lives, whether it is watching a sport on TV, playing a sport, or even exercising. Personally, I know it has changed my attitude toward sports and exercising, and I enjoy this new version of “me.”