The English are the inventors of a massive scope of internationally renowned sports which have delighted people around the world for decades, whether it be playing them, refereeing them or watching them on a couch.
Therefore, it is impossible to answer this grammatically singular question, for the UK anyway. There are quite a few national sports here, starting with football, the most popular national sport. Now it may be hard to imagine that football is our national sport, that it surpasses others, when we know that African and South American countries prioritise and privilege football above all other things. Even though England has never been the most grandiose or competent nation when it comes to football, as the national team is seen as a bit of a joke by some, we deserve to be credited with the entire concept of football. While the game of soccer dates back to Ancient Rome, its rules were only codified by English public schools in the 1700s, with the Football League created in 1888! Rugby too is a product of English genius and imagination. This time, we have a national team to be proud of.
But of course, allow me to confirm the common stereotypes! Why, TENNIS, OF COURSE! The annual Wimbledon championship is an icon of British sport and culture. Who doesn’t know about the grass courts, under the sun or under the rain, won so many times by Roger Federer, being eyed closely by an avid crowd of people, digging into strawberries and cream? Like football giving birth to rugby, tennis gave birth to table tennis, at which the Chinese unfairly thrash us nowadays, to squash and to badminton.
And who could possibly forget the iconic question from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, so brilliantly pronounced in a snotty English accent by the Queen of hearts in the Disney adaptation: “My dear, do you play croquet?”
The UK’s national sports are indeed countless, with, among others, cricket and rounders (yes, they are two different sports), and sports played with sticks like hockey and lacrosse. Who would have thought that the posh and civilised English would invent such a violent sport as boxing? Who would have thought a country with as little snow and ice, despite the cold, as England would invent curling?
Darts, snooker and billiards are also English inventions, but sports such as athletics, golf, cycling, motorcar racing and horse racing are more popular. Another quintessentially English sport is rowing. An iconic boat race between two teams from the rival universities Oxford and Cambridge, the most prestigious institutes in the UK, takes place every year on the river Thames.
– by William H.