Baseball is popular all over the world with a yearly revenue of $7.5 billion from television rights overseas. It is reported that 10% of NBA’s revenue comes from its international operations. While only $9 billion in NFL’s revenue is generated internationally, the commissioner’s plan is to increase that level almost three times, by 2027.
Beyond these numbers, what matters the most happens at the grassroots level, where millions of kids, girls and boys, learn how to pitch, or punt, or dribble on fields and gyms, all over the world. Are these sports becoming global? Does their globalization trigger rule changes? What can one learn about America while embracing these sports and what can Americans learn about the world? Today’s panelists are at the forefront of promoting sports with an American flavor and, in the process, they are translators of sports culture.
Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi
American Sports are becoming more popular with people across the world. Certain sports, viewed as emblematic for the United States, are becoming an increasingly visible presence abroad. The “Big Three” — American football, baseball, and basketball — are played and watched in a variety of countries. Baseball is popular all over the world with a yearly revenue of $7.5 billion from television rights overseas. It is reported that 10% of the National Basketball Association’s revenue comes from its international operations. While $9 billion of the National Football League’s revenue is generated internationally, the commissioner’s plan is to increase that level almost three times, by 2027. At the grassroots level, a lot of programs are being implemented for kids to learn how to pitch, punt, or dribble on fields and in gyms all over the world. While sports like baseball, football and basketball are popular on a global scale, this globalization triggers rule changes, since rules vary by country. The most important thing is that people are able to learn these sports and, at the same time, Americans can learn how the world interacts with and adopts their sports.
People in different countries who play American sports are getting in touch with the sports culture of America and are then able to create their own sports culture. People are connected and united through sports. The use of American traditional sports and other programs overseas has been especially successful. Players are encouraged to think outside the box, ensuring that they keep focused on seeing and experimenting with new sports. The goal is to show them these sports and different variations of it. Countries around the world are requesting for traditional baseball programs and generally for more American sports. But, it is important not to focus on just the sport, but to create a bond between players and talk about the ways that sports are creating a community.
Football is also important. For example, in Africa, especially in Nigeria, football has started to be taught more frequently, with emphasis on the overall value of sports. It’s important to strengthen internationally friendly games, since people learn to share common values and develop their ability to communicate through sports. Even though we may not have language in common, football becomes the common language. American football doesn’t belong only to America. People around the world try to understand it and become part of it. People learn the traditional rules of football and they enjoy the sports, then make it their own. Football is also growing in Brazil where more and more women have started playing. People are seeking something different and now, they have access to it, especially through the possibilities given from the internet.
Africa is on the map of global basketball. Basketball has become the passion of many people, but if you want basketball only for the money make sure that you have another profession. USA also shares its passion of baseball in countries like Cuba and in Caribbean countries.
Watch the discussion
-Chukwuemeka Innocent Amadi | Founder and Board Chairman, American football for African Mission | Nigeria
-Obiora Victor Amadi | Consultant |Executive President, American football for African Mission | Nigeria
-Paula Ivoglo | Founder NFL de Bosla, ESPN Brazil Commentator | Brazil
-Oliver Johnson (aka Coach OBJ), Founder Basketball for PEACE (BB4P), Nigeria
-Fouzia Madhouni | President, We Can Morocco, Founder of Jaguars American Football Team | Morocco
This webinar is part of World Learning’s International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI) —Virtual Together program, a series of virtual events, launched in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. ISPI is a program of U.S. Department of State's Sports Diplomacy division. The series aims to engage the sports community globally, to creatively problem solve, share digital tools and work together, follow health guidance, and continue to promote active, healthy lifestyles both physically and mentally throughout this crisis. Additional modules related to these objectives are being developed and will be announced.
The webinar is produced by Digital Communication Network South-East Europe Hub and World Learning.