Some of them may be longstanding sports which have become shared passions, while others are newer sports that originated stateside before making their way over to Central Europe. Either way there is an undoubted uptick in the number of North American sports being played everywhere from Poland to Hungary.
In this article we go through country by country, to see which established sports are still going strong and which up and comers are on the rise.
For a while now, there has been a growing trend for American Football in Poland. This came sharply into focus in 2017 when it was announced that the country’s main league, the PLFA, had broken in two, with a rebel faction calling itself the EFA forming its own breakaway league, citing player safety and welfare as their main reasons for going it alone. The two leagues now run side by side, with both seemingly growing in popularity.
Another North American sport that continues to grow in prominence in Poland is Lacrosse, a sport previously only found on the sports fields of Canadian and American college and pro teams. sports central europe
The country is even due to host the sport’s European Championships in 2021, in the city of Wrocław. The hosts have been drawn in group D where they will meet Portugal and Italy, who they should be confident of getting past to reach the knockout stages.
It is also not just sports with long historical backgrounds that are making their way to Polish playing fields, with new age athletic pastimes also capturing the imagination. The major one to have come from the U.S. is Ultimate Frisbee, a sport that held its European Championships in Poland in 2019, the competition boasting over 60 teams and taking place across the vast array of pitches that surround the Olympic Stadium in Wrocław.
The undoubted king of North American sports in the Czech Republic is ice hockey with this country of just some 10 million people punching way above their weight both on the club and international stage.
Between 1996 and 2001, the country was viewed as the dominant force in the sport, winning six World Championships on the bounce.
Many Czech players have gone on to become superstars in the NHL and elsewhere, such as Jaromír Jágr and Dominik Hašek, the latter being a man who many believe is the greatest ice hockey goalie of all time. You would be hard pushed to find a Czech who disagrees. Few NHL fans would either.
As with most countries in Europe, Slovakia is a country where football tends to dominate the sporting discourse, but ice hockey is also a big player, with the country being consistently in and around the top 10 international teams in the world.
Another sport that has steadily grown in prominence is basketball, although it is the country’s women who are showing their men the way, with the likes of star player Zuzana Žirková even once being drafted in the 2nd round to play in the WNBA.
North American sports have not quite gained as much of a foothold in Hungary as they have in other Central European countries, but that’s not to say they’re not there.
Budapest has no less than three American Football teams with the Budapest Wolves being the most successful, having claimed a total of 6 national championships as well as 3 runners-up medals.