Britain and America are both sports proud nations. Their national identities are built partly on the sports they created, and every weekday and weekend millions of citizens sit glued to their television sets watching their favorite athletes compete against each other. Americans have Football, Baseball, and Basketball, while Brits have Rugby, Soccer and Cricket. There are striking similarities between their respective games, but have very different cultures and meaning for their fans.
So which of the two nations has the best sports? Is rugby tougher than football? Is basketball more skilled than soccer?
Here’s our definitive (and snarky) guide to British vs American sports:
American Football vs Rugby
American Football came from Rugby, and the games have many similarities. But which is better – the modern incarnation of the ancient game, or the original itself? Here’s the match up:
American Football isn’t exactly the most graceful of sports. While there are moments of brilliant strategic thinking, deft athleticism, and fluid technicality, Football is for the most part, lots of big dudes smashing into each other with helmets on.
American Football players are very tough. Sure, they wear protective gear, but that’s because the powerfully built athletes are running into each other at frightening speeds. The average player’s career spans just under 7 years in the NFL, a testament to how brutal the sport is.
Entertainment Value: 2/10
Sorry Americans, your national sport is inconceivably boring to anyone not living in the US. No one else on the planet understands the game, or really cares about it. Sure there are some exciting moments, but why the hell do you have to stop every 10 seconds and reset?
Rugby is more skilled than American Football only because it doesn’t stop and start all the damn time. That means plays are more complicated and can change from moment to moment, requiring a greater level of dexterity from its participants and overall athletic skill.
Rugby wins hands down here. Rugby players don’t wear protective gear, have WAY more endurance, and are well versed in kicking the shit out of each other in the scrum. American Football players are tough, but most of them wouldn’t last 5 minutes on a Rugby field.
Entertainment value: 6/10
Rugby is certainly more entertaining than American Football as it keeps moving, but if you don’t know too much about it, it can get a little tiresome. Also, it’s not exactly clear what the whole point of the scrum is, or why you can only pass the ball backwards.
Overall Winner: Clear victory for Rugby.
Basketball vs Soccer
Both sports are hugely loved in their respective countries and are played in backyards, local parks and streets in every neighborhood in every city. Both require a great deal of skill and athleticism, but which should be considered the superior sport? Here’s how they match up:
Soccer is a highly skilled game. All players must be extremely fit, have exceptional coordination and be able to think several moves ahead. They don’t use their hands (unless its a throw in or you are the goalie) so it loses points against sports where all limbs are needed to play.
There’s no denying it, soccer players are complete wimps. They constantly fall over and pretend to be hurt, even requiring stretchers after banging their shins. For a good laugh, watch Italian soccer and take a shot every time a player fakes being fouled. You’ll be hammered after 15 minutes.
Entertainment value: 7/10
It’s a fast paced and dynamic game that changes from moment to moment. Soccer is a fun game to watch, particularly if it’s on a national level. The World and European Cups are monumental events that even casual fans go completely insane over.
Basketball is one of the most demanding sports when it comes to skill. The athleticism and coordination between hands and feet is truly incredible to watch at the highest level. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James have to be considered some of the greatest overall athletes ever – combining breath taking skill with alien like physical abilities. Basketball puts most other sports to shame in this department.
Basketball players are OK tough. It’s a physical game, but it’s not a true contact sport like American football, boxing or rugby.
Entertainment value: 6/10
Basketball is pretty fun to watch. It moves incredibly fast and there aren’t too many breaks. The athleticism is awesome to watch, even if you don’t care too much about the game. It can get a little monotonous and predictable, but there are enough moments of brilliance that sitting through an entire game isn’t too difficult.
Overall Winner: A victory for Basketball. Better and tougher athletes, and more skill involved.
Baseball vs Cricket
Baseball and cricket are pretty similar in that they both involve two teams hitting a ball with a piece of wood and catching it. There are of course big differences, but there are enough parallels to make a comparison. Here’s how they match up:
Cricket is a tricky game to play. Firstly, you have to wear silly clothes – a, white, suit like outfit with a woolly jumper on top for added discomfort. Then, you have the thick pads for your shins and hands which make moving around a complete nightmare. Cricket is completely incomprehensible to the casual sports fan – hurling a small red ball at a wicket (pegs ground into the floor) while someone stands in a funny stance with a plank of wood trying to protect it might make sense to Brits, but to everyone else, it’s pretty fucking ridiculous. Either way, it’s not easy to get the hang of and the best players are very skillful.
Cricket players are not tough. While it’s a bit dangerous given how fast the ball travels, there’s no contact so it can’t really be considered ‘physical’.
Entertainment value: 2/10
While hitting balls with piece of wood is definitely quite fun for a good half hour, cricket games often go on for days. Some of us have jobs to do and girlfriends/boyfriends.
Baseball is a skillful game, much in the same way cricket is. It gets one point less because the pitcher doesn’t have to bounce the ball, but it’s pretty much the same thing.
Baseball players aren’t particularly tough, but the fact that they wield baseball bats makes them a bit harder than cricket players.
Entertainment value: 3/10
Baseball goes on for hours longer than it needs to. Like cricket, it’s not bad for a half hour or so (and that’s pushing it), but games can go on all damned day. The hotdogs and popcorn make it more tolerable if you are there live, but there’s only so much you can take watching grown men play with a stick and a small ball.
Overall winner: Baseball (just). It doesn’t go on for as long as cricket, and the outfits aren’t quite as ridiculous (although it’s very close).
Pro Wrestling vs Darts
There isn’t anything physically similar to Pro Wrestling in England, but the culture surrounding darts (one of England’s most beloved sports) is fast becoming comparable. Reports Vice: “Darts has really embraced the power of spectacle in a way that only wrestling has before…..there’s indoor fireworks, High Street Honeys, neckless bouncers, and regional trash-talking. The crowd dish it out, and the dartists serve it back with panto precision.”
Here’s how they match up:
While it might look like pumped up body builders pretending to fight, Pro Wrestling is one of the most difficult sports in the world to master. The athletes are in incredible condition (with a little help, mind you), and have to spend hours and hours rehearsing dangerous fight sequences. Wrestlers have to master the art of falling safely from great heights and learn tricky techniques to make their fights look as real as possible.
The guys who do Pro Wrestling are completely insane. The only arguably tougher athletes are boxers and MMA fighter, and that isn’t a given. Wrestlers put themselves through inhuman punishment and literally risk their lives performing for the crowd.
Entertainment value: 7/10
Let’s face it, the sport is completely and utterly ridiculous. While it’s incredibly dangerous, it is still play fighting and very, very silly. But it is pretty fun to watch particularly if you are drunk.
There’s no denying the skill of darts players. Their accuracy and consistency requires hand eye coordination and nerves of steel. Darts players are usually drunk when playing, and that takes extra skill to pull off moves like this:
Toughness: – 3/10
Darts is in the negative here. The blokes who play this game have a hard time getting out of their armchairs, let alone compete in a physically demanding sport.
Entertainment value: 6/10
The game of darts is oddly engrossing. Sure, it’s not exactly a ‘sport’ but you have to admire the skill, and the pomp and ceremony around it is pretty entertaining.
Overall winner: Pro Wrestling.
US: 73.5 points
Britain: 63 points
It’s a close win for the US when it comes to their nation’s sports. Americans should remember where their favorite games came from (baseball came from cricket, football from rugby, basketball was first played with a soccer ball etc), but they’ve carried them on with gusto and deserve the nod.
In fairness to the Brits, they did create most of the world’s biggest sports, but they need to do more than win Wimbledon every 36 years to be recognized as a sporting super power.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.