Why is China so bad at almost all team sports?




Sophia Finch Foymal, An avid football fan.

This can, I believe, be due to three reasons: 1) Physical size 2) History 3) Cultural perception


Firstly, a difference in physical size. Many team sports such as football and basketball require not only great physicality, but also a big build. This is also the reason why Asian countries in general don’t do well in football, because the people are simply no match, in physical size wise, to huge Europeans and to an extent, South/Central Americans. It all boils down to genetics, really; Asian man are usually smaller in stature and shorter in height.

For example, the Chinese goalkeeper Zeng Cheng is 1.88m while Neuer, world cup winner, is 1.92m. Although height-wise, this does not seem like much; yet, from their respective weights, we can see that Neuer is much bulkier. Zeng Cheng is 78kg while Neuer is 92kg.



Next, history. China has never been traditionally a footballing and they have never really been good at football. They have only started participating in Fifa world cup in 1980. Brazil, on the other, first appeared in the world cup in 1930.


Lastly, cultural perception. In China, academics usually takes precedence over most activities, sports included. At a young age, students are pushed by their parents to work hard and thus they do not really go out and kick a ball. In addition, to excel academically is most people’s dreams and what is considered successful, and thus most only aim to get good grades (particularly in their gaokao), and fewer aspire to become non-academic related professionals, such as athletes.


译文来源:三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46442.html    译者:Jessica.Wu


Adrian Diaz, 10+ working in China as a Consultant

I possible reason could be that team sports are much more complicated and un-predictable than individual, since... as many people are involved, the performance of each team depends of:

  1. A summation of many individuals
  2. Rapport between the individuals
  3. Multiple possible strategies





I do not say individual sports have no strategies, I just mean, multiple players multiply the combinations.

At individual sports is more possible, that one person (or country) dominates one sport for a long period but, in team sports, champions are changing constantly (I know, US in basketball breaks the rule... but it has its own explanation).


We could see it perfectly in gambling. Which sports allows you to earn more money? 100 meters or football. Is a coincidence that champions team, with better players and more money to improve usually do not repeat winning? It's a coincidence that "new-rich" football teams as Manchester city, Chelsea or PSG cannot win even having unlimited resources? Something else counts.

我们可以从赌博中很好地看到这一点。哪种运动能让你赚更多的钱?100米还是足球。拥有更好的球员和更多资金来提升自己的冠军球队往往都不能蝉联,这是巧合吗?像曼城、切尔西或巴黎圣日耳曼这样的“新贵”球队,即使拥有无限的资源也无法获胜,这是巧合吗? 事关其他因素。

Considering all that, I think, in individual sports population counts. I don't think China is better than Korea or Japan in individual, as I don't think US is either. Having a large population, they have more possibilities of having good players. They also invest hard on it, as nationalism has focused on sports since the cold war to prove their citizens their supremacy.


When China has developed, it is normal than become good in some sports, especially those which they have in their blood.


But in sport games, strategy, rapport, and external factors counts more than individual skills and money.  As well, population is not at all a definitive factor.


China will be good at (for example) football soon or later, but if they expect to dominate this sport as they do with some individual ones, forget it.



Han Ooi, Founder and CEO (2015-present)

I think it has to do with the fact that China is a crowded country. There really aren’t many open fields for kids to play.


I read the biography of Pele. He got to play in open fields near his house since he was little. Lots of space in Brazil and many of these countries. Visit China however and it is a concrete jungle. Open flat land is used for agriculture due to the many mouths to feed.


The other reason is Chinese don’t value sports much. If you look at the chance of success being a sports person, it is very, very low. In America, one of my co-worker’s brother was a minor league baseball player. All that effort his whole life and he landed a $36K a year job that he can only do for 10 years before he gets replaced by a younger player.


The same effort into say accounting would net him double the pay for a duration four times longer. Focusing on sports as a profession is just plain stupid. Doing it to keep your body healthy so you can do your real job better I got no problem with.



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