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WHICH IS THE BEST SPORTS COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?

April 23, 1962
April 23, 1962

Table of Contents
April 23, 1962

Yesterday
Boom
  • The game busted out all over with tinseled stadiums, fascinating new teams and a touch of carnival hoopla. Outlook: more color, more interest, more baseball

  • James A. Farley Jr. is a bank president and one of three members of the New York State Athletic Commission. The son of the former Postmaster General of the U.S., the 33-year-old Farley has had a close interest in boxing since he was a youngster. Not a man to duck a battle, he has chosen this highly critical time to speak out in behalf of a sport he loves

World Sports
Hopkins
Horse Racing
Bullfight
Tennis
Golf
Baseball Books
Acknowledgments
Baseball's Week
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

WHICH IS THE BEST SPORTS COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?

The U.S.? Russia? It depends on how and what you count, but this year will be the biggest one ever

As a concentratedglorification of sport, nothing can jostle that embroidered sampler, theOlympic Games. But in 1962, halfway between the last Olympics and the next, theworld will accumulate an unmatchable wealth of sporting performances. Beforethis entr'acte is done, no less than 25,000 athletes from nearly every nationon earth will meet on international terms to test one another in everythingfrom jumping out of an airplane above Orange, Mass. to leaping a hurdle inJakarta, Indonesia or sinking a basketball in Manila. And, as a rule, everytime someone from one country faces someone from another, world supremacy orinternational prestige or both will be at stake.

This is an article from the April 23, 1962 issue Original Layout

How the severalnations engaged are likely to wind up at year's end in 40 major sports (twicethe number contested in the summer and winter Olympics) is shown in the chartbelow. Prepared by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, the chart assigns standings and points(five for first place, three for second, one for third) on the basis of thebest available facts—and hunches. Admittedly, some of the sports listed areparochial in their scope—e.g., football in the U.S., cricket in the BritishCommonwealth—but the picture the chart gives is still an accurate measure ofthe athletic interest and proficiency of the 35 nations prominently involved.Whether a man agrees with its conclusions may depend on his point of view. Andhis homeland.

Ten years ago achart like this would have been half the size; that was before Soviet athletesemerged into sports competition at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and taught a newlesson to Western politicians: athletic superiority is one of the cheapest—andmost effective—propaganda tools available. If a Moscow boy can whip a Bostonboy at the high jump, the whole world, rightly or wrongly, sees in it more thansporting significance.

Quick to catch onto the techniques of playing at worldwide cold war (and quick to get busy toavoid being skunked by the Russians), the free world has accordingly adopted anew attitude toward excellence in world sport. It translates: "Beat theReds."

As the chartshows, gloomily, the Reds don't beat easy. With no international standingwhatsoever in 1951, Soviet athletes today figure in the top ranks of half ofthe world's games, and are in second place in this overall accounting. They areeven learning—by energetic design—to beat the West where the West is best: inbasketball, crew and ice hockey. But the figures also prove that, for thepresent anyway, there is still no athlete like a U.S. athlete.

MAN FOR MAN, IT'SAUSTRALIA

With a total of 69points to Russia's 67 (see below), the U.S. just barely wins the race forheadline space. But though both nations outstrip their closest rivals, Italyand Germany, almost three to one, their high ranking is deceptive. Bothcountries, culturally oriented toward sport, are able to draw upon vastresources of manpower. Thus it is not surprising that both are able to findsomeone someplace who can honorably represent his country abroad.

But, looked atanother way, the best sports nation in the world ought to be the one able to dothe most with what there is to work with. The winner on these man-to-manconditions is Australia. With a population less than that of Pennsylvania,Australia leads or challenges the leaders in five of the 40 sports listed onthe preceding pages. Her standings add up to only 15 points, but 15 points for10.5 million people give a score of 1.428 points per million, the highestrelative score of the 35 nations surveyed here.

Becausestatistical tables are frequently subject to tricks and traps, one must makeallowances and try not to titter over the positions of nations like SouthernRhodesia. Blessed with a handful of good motorcycle riders and having apopulation of only three million, Southern Rhodesia can claim but scarcelydeserves her third-place tie with water-polo-playing Hungary (whose strength inping-pong may be little more convincing). Still, the fact remains that theU.S., No. 1 on the first chart, is far down the list, at No. 13 position, onthis one (boos). But notice also that Soviet Russia, at No. 16, is even fartherdown than that (cheers).

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

SPORT

WORLD'S BEST

ARCHERY

1 U.S.
2 BELGIUM
3 FINLAND

AUTO RACING

1 ITALY
2 GREAT BRITAIN
3 GERMANY

BADMINTON

1 INDONESIA
2 THAILAND
3 DENMARK

BASEBALL

1 U.S.
2 JAPAN
3 PUERTO RICO

BASKETBALL

1 U.S.
2 U.S.S.R.
3 BRAZIL

BOBSLEDDING

1 ITALY
2 GERMANY
3 U.S.

BOXING

1 U.S.
2 ARGENTINA
3 GREAT BRITAIN

CANOEING

1 RUMANIA
2 U.S.S.R.
3 HUNGARY

CHESS

1 U.S.S.R.
2 U.S.
3 YUGOSLAVIA

CRICKET

1 AUSTRALIA
2 GREAT BRITAIN
3 WEST INDIES

CYCLING

1 BELGIUM
2 ITALY
3 FRANCE

EQUESTRIAN

1 ITALY
2 GERMANY
3 U.S.

FENCING

1 U.S.S.R.
2 POLAND
3 FRANCE

FIGURE SKATING

1 CANADA
2 CZECHOSLOVAKIA
3 GERMANY

FIELD HOCKEY

1 PAKISTAN
2 INDIA
3 GREAT BRITAIN

FOOTBALL

1 U.S.
2 CANADA

GOLF

1 U.S.
2 AUSTRALIA
3 GREAT BRITAIN

GYMNASTICS

1 U.S.S.R.
2 JAPAN
3 CZECHOSLOVAKIA

HARNESS RACING

1 U.S.
2 FRANCE
3 ITALY

HORSE RACING

1 U.S.
2 FRANCE
3 GREAT BRITAIN

ICE HOCKEY

1 CANADA
2 U.S.S.R.
3 CZECHOSLOVAKIA

JUDO

1 JAPAN
2 KOREA(SOUTH)
3 U.S.S.R.

MODERN PENTATHLON

1 U.S.S.R.
2 HUNGARY
3 U.S.

MOTORCYCLE RACING

1 GREAT BRITAIN
2 SOUTHERN RHODESIA
3 AUSTRALIA

PARACHUTE JUMPING

1 U.S.
2 U.S.S.R.
3 FRANCE

ROWING

1 U.S.S.R.
2 GERMANY
3 ITALY

RUGBY

1 SOUTH AFRICA
2 FRANCE
3 NEW ZEALAND

SHOOTING

1 U.S.S.R.
2 GERMANY
3 U.S.

SKIING

1 AUSTRIA
2 SWEDEN
3 GERMANY

SPEED SKATING

1 U.S.S.R.
2 NETHERLANDS
3 SWEDEN

SOCCER

1 BRAZIL
2 GERMANY
3 GREAT BRITAIN

SWIMMING

1 U.S.
2 JAPAN
3 AUSTRALIA

TABLE TENNIS

1 CHINA (RED)
2 JAPAN
3 HUNGARY

TENNIS

1 AUSTRALIA
2 U.S.
3 ITALY

TRACK & FIELD

1 U.S.
2 U.S.S.R.
3 NEW ZEALAND

VOLLEYBALL

1 U.S.S.R.
2 POLAND
3 CZECHOSLOVAKIA

WATER POLO

1 HUNGARY
2 ITALY
3 U.S.S.R.

WEIGHT LIFTING

1 U.S.S.R.
2 POLAND
3 U.S.

WRESTLING

1 U.S.S.R.
2 TURKEY
3 IRAN

YACHTING

1 DENMARK
2 U.S.
3 GREAT BRITAIN

NATION

TOTAL POINTS

POPULATION
IN MILLIONS

POINTS PER MILLION

1. AUSTRALIA

15

10.5

1.428

2. DENMARK

6

4.5

1.333

3. HUNGARY

10

10

1.000

3. SO. RHODESIA

3

3

1.000

5. BELGIUM

8

9

.889

6. NEW ZEALAND

2

2.5

.800

7. CANADA

13

18

.722

8. AUSTRIA

5

7

.714

9. SWEDEN

4

7.5

.533

10. ITALY

24

51

.471

11. CZECHO.

6

13.5

.444

12. PUERTO RICO

1

2.5

.400

13. U.S.

69

180

.383

14. GREAT BRITAIN

17

52.5

.324

15. SOUTH AFRICA

5

16

.313

16. U.S.S.R.

67

214.5

.312

17. POLAND

9

29.5

.305

18. WEST INDIES

1

3.5

.286

19. RUMANIA

5

18.5

.270

20. FRANCE

12

45.5

.264

21. NETHERLANDS

3

11.5

.261

22. GERMANY

18

73

.246

23. FINLAND

1

4.5

.222

24. JAPAN

17

93.5

.182

25. ARGENTINA

3

21

.143

26. KOREA (SOUTH)

3

25

.120

27. THAILAND

3

25.5

.118

28. TURKEY

3

28

.107

29. BRAZIL

6

68

.088

30. INDONESIA

5

92.5

.054

30. YUGOSLAVIA

1

18.5

.054

32. PAKISTAN

5

94

.053

33. IRAN

1

20.5

.048

34. CHINA (RED)

5

670

.007

34. INDIA

3

438

.007

FORTY ILLUSTRATIONS