Basketball is definitely now an international sport, and one could argue that it doesn't belong on a list of things that don't cross the pond with dignity. Speed, stamina, grace and accuracy are the hallmarks of the game, but the over-riding attribute for success is height. If you're a young male in the US who happens to be, say, around six foot two or taller, the first question people will inevitably ask is: "Do you play basketball?" It's almost as if there's a rule which says that if you're tall you must play basketball. Now, I'm not a young male and I'm definitely not tall, but I'm guessing that gets old for a lot of guys.
Then there's my own middle-aged British experience, which for me will always taint the game of basketball forever. Young girls at school in England, and many other parts of the world, play a sport called netball. Netball is similar to basketball in that there are two teams trying to place a ball into nets at each end of the court. Where netball differs, is that the ball cannot touch the ground. It has to be thrown from person to person. If you look up the history of basketball, you'll find that this is how the original game of basketball started, simply because the first balls used were soccer balls, which don't bounce all that easily. Dribbling wasn't introduced until the 1950's.
So, nothing really against basketball: it is an Olympic sport and therefore truly international, which is more than you can say for the "World Series" in this next sport.
Baseball. For many, this is the essence of America: the boys of summer. Full disclosure: I don't know the intricate rules, nor do I understand all those pesky statistics, but it makes me smile that such a simple game on the surface can get so complicated when you get into it. (Have you seen Moneyball?) Baseball seems to be one of those sports which exists to give people an excuse to sit in a stadium with friends, eating a lot of junk food and drinking a lot of beer, waiting for short bursts of action in the midst of a lot of standing around.
The misnomer of the "World Series" was made starkly clear when baseball was removed as an Olympic sport for the 2012 Olympics: the first time a sport has been dropped since 1936 when polo was eliminated. In the words of Jacques Rogge, head of the International Olympic Committee when discussing why baseball would no longer be an Olympic sport:
"To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible. You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met. When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts."
So, go ahead, enjoy baseball, just don't kid yourself that your team is a world champion if it wins the "World Series."
Oh, and one other thing, per my previous post. Rugby Union will be a sport in the 2016 Olympics.
To even the playing field, so to speak, I have to mention cricket. A game played mostly in Britain, Australasia and the Indian sub-continent, cricket is essentially Britain's answer to baseball: a game where there's a lot of standing around, punctuated by random moments of action, with the main excuse for spectating being the imbibing of lots of Pimms and beer. Cricket is beloved by many and befuddling to many more. Ask a Brit for an opinion about cricket and he'll give you one, either good or bad. Ask an American for an opinion and he'll answer: "What?"
Cricket was dropped from the Olympics over one hundred years ago, so there's your answer as to the "universality" of that game.
That's about it for team sports for now. Perhaps later I'll move on to sports involving motorized vehicles.
Now that's a whole new ballgame.