Background: Sports are becoming a huge business globally. As the cradle of modern sports, Western countries have spread their sport forms, ideologies, and products to other parts of
the world. Asia has become a prime target market for the expansionary strategies of many powerful sports leagues, teams, companies, and media. With the rapid growth of Asian economies in recent years,
increasingly more Asian countries and organizations are becoming exporting entities. Can Asian sport organizations start doing the same to counter the global dominance of Western sports? At least,
Asian sport organizations should look into the possibility of reversing the tide, gradually increasing the presence of Eastern sports overseas, and ultimately letting the world enjoy the benefits of
Eastern sports. Through studying three sport examples (i.e., Taekwondo (TKD), tai chi, and table tennis), this qualitative study was aimed to illustrate the growth, organization, challenges, and
opportunities of Asian sports in North America.
Method: Following qualitative research procedures, three sources of information (literature review, interviews, and observations) were collected to identify themes and assertions associated with the
development of TKD, tai chi, and table tennis in North America. Interviews with open-ended questions were conducted with managers of sport clubs located in the Southeastern region of the U.S. that
offered TKD, tai chi, or table tennis programs. Non-intrusive observations were also conducted in these clubs.
Results: TKD is widely considered “the most popular martial arts” in North America. To a great extent, achievements in TKD’s high popularity, participation rate, and international
recognition are attributable to the concerted promotional efforts made by the Korean government. Tai chi is also considered valuable participatory activities. Despite of its recognized benefits,
unlike TKD, tai chi is not a familiar activity for many Americans. Its traditional styles are difficult to instruct and learn although there are some simplified forms; also, its slow motion is not
attractive to some desiring for fast-paced sport activities. Originated in England, table tennis has comparatively gained more popularity in Asian countries over the past century. In recent years, it
has increasingly become a favored leisure activity in North America due to promotional efforts made by table tennis associations, ease of having a table tennis table, and expanded Asian population
living in North America.
Conclusion: TKD is the most successful Asian sport being promoted in North America because a relatively high market demand has been developed through creating consumer awareness,
tying with consumer needs for fitness and self-protection, recruiting club members, and establishing a well-designed competition system. Those fruitful lessons learned in TKD can be seriously
considered by those who organize and promote table tennis and tai chi.