Everybody likes to do a little bit of sport, and doing an internship in china is not something that will make you stop to practice some sport right?

So what do you know about sport in China? The rise of sports in China is directly correlated to the development of the Chinese economy, culture and society. Before arriving in China, I held the basic idea that China was not actively playing western sport like football. After all, China is never permitted to join the World Cup, so it’s safe to assume that the Chinese don’t play football (soccer 踢足球), right? Well, my assumption was far from correct.A variety of sports are popular in China; people play everything ranging from ping pong(乒乓球) and badminton (毛球),which are often played on the side of streets or in parks; to football (soccer), the world’s most popular sport. But the most important influence that sports haveare that they bring people of all ages, nationalities, and social classes together.

QQ截图20160310144744There are a few sports that specifically bring people of all ages together. The first of these sports is mahjong(麻将). You will see people playing mahjong inside of parks, stores, and sometimes on the side of the streets. And, in fact, mahjong is so popular in the city of Chengdu, that play say you can hear the clicking and clacking of the mahjong tiles when you arrive at the airport. Many people associate mahjong with the elderly people in China. However, when the World Mahjong Organization held its first tournament in 2007 in Chengdu, a student named Li Li from Tsinghua University won the tournament.

IMG_0283Two other sports that bring people of all ages together in China are ping pong and badminton. Ping pong is often played both inside and outside. You can often see complexes outside that hold dozens of ping pong tables. Many of these complexes are surrounded by walls that keep the ping pong balls from flying outside and hitting an innocent pedestrian in the face.Ping Pong has long been seen as the sport that the Chinese people are the best at. The Chinese have won Olympic Gold Medals in ping pong in every Olympics since 1992. Badminton is an interesting sport that is very popular in China. This is the sport that you perhaps see the most of in public. People of all ages often play badminton outside on the street. China has dominated badminton competitions recently, taking home all of the gold medals in the 2012 Olympics held in London.

002170196e1c0f7dee221bFootball(soccer) is perhaps the fastest growing sport in China today, especially among men. It is important to note that while the Chinese Women’s World Cup team competed respectfully, the Men’s team didn’t even make it into the tournament. Think about that. The world’s largest country did not have a men’s team participate in the World Cup. Football has not only become more popular among average Chinese people, but both the government and many Chinese billionaires are investing heavily in the sport. For example, Alibaba’s Jack Ma has invested billions in the sport over the past few years. In turn, football has seen more schools, practice facilities and players emerge as a result.

Chengdu_basketball3Finally, I will talk about basketball (篮球), which has been the most popular sport for young people in China over the past decade. Basketball’s impact on Chinese society has been huge. It has particularly brought together people of all nationalities. For example, basketball is the most popular sport in both the Xinjiang and Tibetan regions. These areas are home to many of China’s ethnic minorities. The people in Xinjiang have such a love for basketball that their provincial team in the CBA is usually regarded as one of the best and most popular teams. There are basketball courts everywhere in China, including parks, university campuses, high school sports grounds, outside of primary schools, in neighborhoods and even in parks. This sport truly brings the youth together in China.

Sports hold a special place in Chinese society today. Part of that reason is because of the impact that sports have on people of all ages and nationalities. I hope that sports continue to influence people positively in China because there’s nothing better than seeing people get along.