# Does a country’s national games mimic its mindset?

Chess Set (Shatranj in Iranian), glazed fritwa...

Chess Set (Shatranj in Iranian), glazed fritware, 12th century. New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a hypothesis that a country’s mindset mimics its national sports and games.

For instance, the Chinese and Japanese are keen on chess and Go. These are games of strategy and take a long-term view. Indians say they invented chess. In any case they do play it well. Perhaps not as good as the Russians. Wonder why the Russians lost the ‘cold war’?

The British play soccer – a very dynamic game, but also cricket which is one of strategy and patience. These games may explain the divergent behaviour of the British – colonial conqueror and commonwealth sustainer?

Americans love their football and baseball. Both are what I call start and stop games. You play a set of tactics and then regroup. I wonder if that explains the lack of clear success in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan?

The Middle East used to play a game from which polo was derived. Their game involved riding on horses and trying to capture and throw the head of a goat (or in medieval times, the head of a defeated enemy) into the opponents’ goal. Individual courage and devil-may-care ruled the tactics. Perhaps that means the West will never ‘win’ in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Don’t forget that Iran has both Middle East roots and also claim to have invented chess. The term ‘check mate’ comes from ‘shah mat‘ meaning the king is dead in Farsi.

What do you think of my hypothesis? What are India’s national games? Kabaddi? Hockey? Cricket? How do these explain the Indian mindset?

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