Sports in the Commonwealth

For better or for worse (often for worse) British colonialism has had a major impact on the history of the world in many areas. One of the fields where the consequences of British colonisation have been most apparent is sport. Many popular sports are shared within the Commonwealth and are less common elsewhere, such as cricket, netball, rugby, and many others. Other sports, such as tennis, were first invented and codified in the United Kingdom with the famous Wimbledon tours and championships, but have gone on to become internationally played and popular. There are fifty three states that are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, comprising more than a fifth of the world’s total surface area of land. More than a third of the population of the world live in a member of the Commonwealth, two point one billion people, with more than half of that total being people living in India, the most populous member of the Commonwealth. Nearly nineteen in every twenty people living in the Commonwealth live in either Asia or Africa, with Pakistan, Nigeria, and Bangladesh being the next three largest members of the Commonwealth by population after India. The United Kingdom is the fifth largest member of the Commonwealth by population.

One of the most visible activities of the Commonwealth is through the quadrennial Commonwealth Games, an international sporting event in which the member states of the Commonwealth, as well as the four home nations (being Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England) of the United Kingdom compete. Australia has historically been the most successful country at the Commonwealth Games, followed by England, and then Canada. Many international sports tours, particularly in the sports more prevalent in the Commonwealth, such as rugby, cricket, and netball, tour throughout the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth Games was the first international multisport event to integrate competitions for athletes with a disability, since the Manchester games in the year two thousand and two. The next edition of the Commonwealth Games is being held in the Gold Coast, and will be the twenty first Games to be held. The hosting of the twentieth Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was expected to contribute to national sentiment in Scotland prior to the independence referendum of September two thousand and fourteen.
Even countries and regions which have not remained members of the Commonwealth of Nations have been involved in largely Commonwealth oriented sporting events, such as the hosting of the renowned Hong Kong Sevens in Hong Kong (with France also being a major competitor at this event). Sport can be a powerful unifying cultural force, and the continued influence of sports that Great Britain either introduced to or adopted from its former empire can be seen throughout the Commonwealth and the world to this very day, in both the largely Commonwealth specific sports and in sports enjoyed throughout the world.