Taiwan, historically known as Chinese Taipei, boasts a vibrant sports culture that transcends political boundaries. While martial arts like t’ai chi ch’uan and taekwondo have long held sway in the region, Taiwan surprises with its enthusiasm for a diverse array of sports. Let’s delve into the most beloved sports on this island nation.
Baseball enjoys an exalted status in Taiwan, often referred to as the national sport. Its roots trace back to Japanese rule when it was introduced to the island. Taiwanese fervently embraced the sport and honed their skills, transforming Taiwan into a baseball powerhouse. The Taiwan national baseball team achieved a historic victory, winning gold at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, defeating formidable rival Japan. Taiwan boasts its own professional baseball league, the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), with the Taiwan Series as its marquee event. Taiwanese baseball players, such as Chien-Ming Wang and Chien-Ming Chiang, have made their mark on the international stage, competing in the U.S. and Japan.
Another Western import that has captured Taiwanese hearts is basketball. Taiwan has its basketball league, the Super Basketball League, founded in 2003. Though not as robust as other national leagues, it enjoys widespread popularity. Jeremy Lin, the first Taiwanese player in the NBA, is an iconic figure in Taiwan and the U.S., while players like Sean Chen have pursued NBA dreams.
Football may not claim the same level of popularity as basketball and baseball, but it commands a dedicated following. The Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) oversees football affairs, organizing domestic competitions and managing national teams. Taiwan has performed credibly at the Asian level. The Enterprise Football League, formerly known as the National First Division Football League, is the country’s premier football league, featuring strong teams like Taiwan Power Company F.C. and Tatung F.C. The Intercity Football League, founded in 2007, is another notable competition. Amateur football clubs, high school leagues, and the National Youth Cup contribute to the sport’s growth.
Tennis has established a solid footing in Taiwan, with players like Lu Yen-Hsun, Wang Yeu-Tzuoo, and Wang Shi Ting making international waves. Their achievements have etched Taiwan onto the global tennis map.
The Chinese Taipei Volleyball Association manages volleyball in Taiwan, organizing the Enterprise Volleyball League for men. Taiwan’s national volleyball team ranks 30th on the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) World Rankings, reflecting the country’s commitment to the sport.