For thousands of years, humans have engaged and participated in sports. The existence of sports across all continents prove that there is a universal element in it that appeals to the entirety of the human race regardless of cultural differences. While different sports exist around the world with each country seemingly having a favorite, sportsmanship and fun in competition seems to be a language understood by all.

Here are 6 ways that sports are closing the cultural gaps around the world:

1. Share history

Sports can open up our view of the world when we learn about the history of another culture’s sport. It is fascinating to find out how shared sports may have different rules for other cultures. It is interesting to know the history behind the origins of sports we share and how they evolved into something else from country to country.

2. Travel opportunities

Programs across the globe give young athletes to travel to compete against other teams in other countries. They form lifelong friendships through their shared passion for the game and get the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture.

3. Bring peace

Throughout history, there have been some occurrences where a shared love for a sport has brought opposing sides together. One of the most memorable ones happened in 1995 when Nelson Mandela, in an effort to avoid a civil war, brought conflicting South African communities together in their shared love for rugby in what the world will always remember as the day Mandela “used sport to heal a nation.”

4. Build friendships through shared communications

It ‘s hard to reach out to people of different cultures when you feel you have nothing in common. But bring out a soccer ball to a field, and kids who do not speak the same language will flock to it and play together without understanding a single word the other child says. As adults, the effects are the same. You don’t need a common language to forge friendships, just a shared love for a sport and respect for one another.

5. Teach life lessons

The lessons you learn in sports like sportsmanship, respect, admiration for the skills of both your opponents and teammates, are all lessons that will carry with you your entire life. These life lessons do not just apply in sports but in the way that you should approach everyone regardless of their education, ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, or beliefs.

6. Different cultures, same playing field

Not all countries put as much focus on sports as others. Some athletes enjoy funding by their governments to get them to global sporting events while other athletes pay their own way in their desire to participate. With sports, players from all over the world who come from different social standings get the same opportunity to compete on a level playing field, proving that skill and ability is the commonality when it comes to succeeding in sports.