Cultured Creatives – Athletics and Sports

I had the privilege of working at the International Student Center while I was in college. A big part of my work there was to welcome students to the US, run orientations and teach them about American Culture. I had an amazing time meeting students from all over the world and I learned so much about other cultures, as well as myself.

Every Spring semester we would hold a Super Bowl party. Not sure if this is American culture at its finest, but it is certainly an event that is uniquely American. Football has a different meaning and whether you are at the game in person or having a viewing party with friends where food is at the center of the event. American advertisers have a field day with the commercials and from frogs to clydesdales there are mascots everywhere! Fans wear the gear of their favorite players and teams or simply just “Friends, Family & Football” gear. Over the years the Super Bowl has become an enormous American cultural event.

 

A football helmet on a table with platters of food
Photo Credit: Canva.com

Rory spent a lot of time with the Society for Creative Anachronism in his youth, where he learned combat and swordsmanship skills. With a passion for history, reenactment and combat sports, an entire culture was born. Around the world, fans gather for the FIFA World Cup and cities clamour to host the Olympics. Serena Williams is a household name for tennis and non tennis fans alike and we are currently watching Simone Biles bring the world of gymnastics to another level! Athletics and sports are closely weaved to the cultures they are from. How is this reflected in your world?

2 legs, with shin guards and cleats. one foot atop a soccer ball.
Photo Credit: Canva.com

Examples of Athletics and Sports in World Building

Culture is brought to life within fictional worlds through acts of strength, martial arts and organized sports. In his homebrewed world, Ashcifer brought us the game of Fantasy Rugby. This was something that all of the PCs had some knowledge of and their rolls and athletic skills determined how well they performed. In Kait’s world, our PCs have encountered more than one underground Fight Club to join in, earning our characters both coin and prestige. Other examples are:

Archery, and other Highland games, from Pixar’s Brave. While many feats of strength are used in Brave, most notable is Merida’s skill with archery, demonstrated fabulously when she shoots for her own heart!

Arena Games from Sakaar in Thor’s Ragnarok. While Thor’s iconic line “He’s a friend from work” is seared in my mind, the arena games are an excellent example of using athletics to help bring culture to life. 

Red-haired light skinned girl holding a bow and arrow
Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar
Thor facing off against the Hulk
Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Blitz Ball from Final Fantasy X.  How do you make a game of soccer even more exciting?  You play it underwater and give everyone magic powers! 

Podracing from Star Wars. While Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 and 3 left a lot to be desired for me, the pod racing with Anakin was a lot of fun to watch! 

Lightskinned man with blonde hair in a yellow jacket holding a blue ball
Photo Credit: game pressure.com
Podracer from Star Wars
Photo Credit: StarWars.com

If you are looking for inspiration on how to add games into your world, think about how you might describe American Ninja Warrior to an alien species or your favorite games from gym class to someone who has never heard of them. I find that sometimes by describing something I know poorly, I can come up with something brand new! 

How do athletics, sports and games factor into your fantasy world? Tell us in the comments! 

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