Sport and Glocalization

Two globally popular sports that have become glocalized are soccer (football) in the U.S. and basketball in the East (China). The glocalization of soccer in the U.S. shows the way in which a globally celebrated sport has been Americanized in terms of how it is appreciated. Soccer has never had the appeal in the U.S. that it has had in Europe or Latin America. American sport has primarily been dominated by baseball, football, and basketball. Soccer, however, is now on the rise as the fashion trend of following an FC (football club) has blossomed in the U.S. and produced an aesthetic glocalization (Jijon, 2017). The International Champions Cup, for example, has been given an American rendition, with “American promoters and communities taking the world’s most popular sport and infusing it with traditional American sporting values. Club chants have been replaced by pop music that plays over the sound system like at many basketball and baseball games. Marching to the stadium with team banners and flags is replaced by exclusive fan party zones during tailgating. And players are elevated to celebrity status rather than community heroes” (Campos, 2017). Americans have taken soccer and made it distinct in the U.S. from what it is elsewhere in the world.

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The same is true for basketball in China. Basketball is a globally followed sport and is primarily played according to the American style—but in China, the sport has been glocalized, with an entirely different style dominating the game (no defense) and Western players adored like gods in the nation when they go to play the game there. The Chinese, in other words, have done to basketball what the Americans have done to soccer.

In my opinion, glocalization is made possible in the first place by the fact that local culture and local traditions are still going to exist even in the face of globalization. All one has to do is survey the current political climate from the U.S. to China: there is the rise of nationalism everywhere: America, England, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Spain, Russia, China—every one of these countries has been demonstrating a surge in popular and political support for national self-interests as opposed to globalized, centralized interests. Globalization is still very important in terms of business—but when it comes to culture, the local regional cultures are still important to people, friends, families, and societies—and the reason for that is that these people form their identities based on their local cultures rather than the global culture.

Glocalization gains tractions specifically because it is focused on giving people the opportunity to promote their own ways of enjoying things. They are allowed to play basketball in a manner that is consistent with their own culture; they are allowed to follow soccer in a manner that is familiar to them (tailgating as opposed to flag-waving parades). Glocalization is the process by which local traditions are embraced. In Spain, it might be more culturally appropriate for youths to march in a procession to show their enjoyment and admiration for a soccer team. In America, the culture simply is not developed around the idea of processing to show honor. That is a European rather than an American tradition. Glocalization is the taking of that European game and energizing it in the U.S. in a specifically American way. The local traditions that thus push back against globalization are the tradition of honoring sports stars as celebrities rather than as neighborhood heroes, the tradition of blaring loud radio music instead of singing chants in praise of one’s team, and so on. The American tradition is to be loud and bold and yet closed off at the same time. Americans are very driven by their identities and thus there is push back in this way against globalization.


Campos, E. (2017). The glocalization of soccer in America. Retrieved from

Jijon, I. (2017). The moral glocalization of sport: Local meanings of football in Chota Valley, Ecuador. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 52(1), 82-96.