Sports are an integral part of human culture and society. From the earliest civilizations, sports have played a big role in shaping our values. It is unsurprising then, that some of the sports that we first played in the ancient world are still popular today. And it is also unsurprising that modern fans of sports are a lot more passionate, considering their fandom has centuries, sometimes millennia of history to draw from.
Canadians, of course, are deeply passionate when it comes to their sports. Whether they participate on the amateur or professional level, or even just as fans, Canadian sports enthusiasts are dedicated to their favorite teams and their favorite sports. In this article, we are going to take a look at the most beloved and watched sports in the country. We will naturally bring up a few of the most popular sports teams in Canada as well. However, our primary focus will be on the sport itself.
Was there any doubt that ice hockey would make the number one spot? By far Canada’s favorite sport for the past century, hockey (specifically the ice variant) is watched and beloved in the country from a very young age.
It is no wonder that the sport is so loved. After all, its origins can be traced to 1900s Montreal. The cold climate made field hockey impossible. However, the city had no shortage of frozen terrain capable of supporting the players.
For the past 100+ years, ice hockey has dominated Canadian sports culture. The country has produced seven top-tier National Hockey League teams, the most notable of which are the Montreal Canadiens. Not to mention, some of the best players in the world have come from the country of maple leaves.
Canadians watch and practice ice hockey (and ice skating in general) from a very young age. The sport is to Canada what football is to America, and what soccer is to the rest of the world. Which means, it certainly deserves the number one spot on our list.
From winter to summer, we are now moving on to basketball. The recent surge in interest in basketball can largely be attributed to the Toronto Raptors’ recent success and NBA title. The team joined the NBA in 1995, and quickly became a favorite during the early 2000s. In 2019, they won the NBA championship title, proving they can hang with the Big Names in the sport.
But, Canada’s love of basketball goes beyond the Toronto Raptors. Certainly, their incredible win against the Golden State Warriors brought in a lot of fans. However, those fans are now here to stay. And they are especially interested in the FIBA-sponsored basketball World Cup, which is certainly the most popular basketball tournament in the world right now.
Canada’s basketball team has also participated in the Summer Olympics. Though, they’ve not had huge success. In all their years of participation, they have only won one silver medal, and even that was in 1936, more than 80 years ago. Still, the sport remains popular in the country, and frequently draws in huge crowds of fans.
Canadian football is the national variant on gridiron football. Two teams of twelve players compete for an oval-shaped ball, attempting to score more points than their opponent. In many ways, it is similar to American football. However, there are a few key differences which makes both unique in their own right.
The sport’s origins can be traced to the mid-19th century. Rugby had just made it big in Europe, and was quickly crossing over to Canada. Some Canadians decided to put their own spin on the sport, and voila. Canadian football was born.
Recently, both Canadian and American football have been catching some flak in the media. Some have said that the two are incredibly dangerous, and new rules should be implemented. And while we can agree that changes are necessary in both American and Canadian football, we are unconvinced that the sports need to be toned down.
Cricket is one of the fastest-growing games in Canada. The sport’s history in the country dates back to 1892. However, the actual history of cricket has been traced much further back, all the way to the mid-14th century English northeast.
Currently, in Canada, there are close to 40,000 cricket players, whether pro or amateurs, and a lot more fans. Not only that, but the number of fans is slated to increase, because of the establishment of domestic cricket competitions, such as the Scotia Shield.
Cricket is also an incredibly popular sport worldwide. In fact, with over 2 billion fans, it is third, following soccer (3.5 billion) and basketball (3 billion). Not only that, but it is England’s national sport, which is a big reason why former Dominions of the British Empire still love the game so much.
The history of lacrosse in Canada dates back even further than that of ice hockey. Since the 17th century, Canadians have delighted in sport, so it isn’t much of a shock that it remains popular today. Though lacrosse does not have much of a following outside of Canada, in the Great White North it is second only to ice hockey.
Fast-paced, action-packed, and adrenaline-pumping, lacrosse is gaining quite a bit of momentum in the USA as well. However, it still does not enjoy much of an international stardom. However, hope remains for one of Canada’s favorite sports.
In 2018, the International Olympic committee once more officially recognized lacrosse. Should the sport grow in popularity, we might just see some games included in the 2028 Summer Olympics. However, that is a long-way away. Until then, we will have to settle for domestic tournaments.
The five sports mentioned in this article all enjoy a huge following in Canada. However, as we said at the start, Canadians are deeply passionate about their sports. And their passion extends to more than just five. Other games, like curling, ice skating, baseball, soccer, and tennis all enjoy a pretty big following in the Great White North as well.
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