3 Reasons Sports Leagues Recruit International Players

The National Hockey League (NHL) is, arguably, the most international sports federation in North America. Despite the word ‘national’ in its name, its players come from different regions all over the globe, ranging from Great Britain to the Czech Republic. THe NBA also has become more dependent on international players, including Luca Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.

With the NHL acquiring different players from various global locations, it paved the way for other sports associations to do the same. Here are three reasons sports leagues recruit international players:

Different Countries With Different Talents

As per Betway, Canadians are, still, the backbone of the NHL despite the influx of international players in over 50 years. Still, sports talents aren’t only in that country.

For instance, 295 players hailed from Canada in the 2019/20 NHL season out of the 690 participants present. Moreover, 24 out of the 31 NHL teams come from the USA and players from there are the second-largest NHL group.

During the opening night of NHL’s 2019/20 season, 472 players or 68.4% of the total participants came from either Canada or the USA. Hence, 31.6% of other NHL players hailed from other regions, especially from cities and towns in Europe.

Other sports organizations took notice of the presence of international players in a sport famous in Canada. Some associations followed suit as sports in other areas, particularly in the USA, gather different talents from other global locations.

For example, many people draw attention to the National Basketball Association (NBA) because of its many American players. But, several teams hire various basketball talents from around the world. Pau Gasol, a player for the Portland Trail Blazers, hailed from Spain. Although NBA superstar Kyrie Irving, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was born in Australia, he lived in the USA after he was two years of age. Dirk Nowitzki of Germany and Nikola Jokic of Serbia are two other strong examples.

Perhaps, the idea of gathering different talents from around the globe stems from the fact that each individual has unique skills. These distinct abilities may help teams win.

Sports Change Over Time

New guidelines enter rulebooks or innovative ordinances surface to help teams gather new talents from different locations. The NHL is no exception to that, as this sports league changed and grew through generations.

Note that the NHL has a higher proportion of international players than the NBA, National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and other major American sports leagues. You can compare the number of players available by checking out online player statistics or playing popular sports video games.

The NHL has 31.6% international in its player base. Also, the MLB isn’t far behind as 245 of its 882 players, or 27.8%, come from countries outside Canada and the USA.

With these figures, you may see that sports leagues recruit international players to cater to certain changes. For instance, ice hockey, in particular, requires a rink and skates. Some countries don’t have the ideal training conditions to practice the sport.

Thus, sports associations may scout talents to fill in these gaps. A skillful individual might be good at playing roller hockey, and a representative from the NHL saw that person’s talents. But, the hometown of the roller hockey player doesn’t have a skating rink to practice ice hockey.

In that example, the representative may coerce the individual to play for the NHL. The player already may seem to have the skill to play ice hockey, but lacks the backing and training to get into the league. So, the two parties can devise and implement a plan for the player to get into a league-certified team based on certain international guidelines presented by the NHL.

Fill In Missing Roles

People age, and sports players are no different. Many participants retire over time because of various reasons, ranging from achieving satisfaction to old age.

But, if these individuals decide to quit the league, it means teams would lack vital roles in their rosters. As a result, representatives would once again be on the lookout for star players who could fill in these roles.

Looking around the neighborhood might not suffice when searching for rising stars in various sports. So, teams tend to look at other countries instead.

Recruiting international players has been a tradition for many sports associations throughout the years. The NBA, Major League Soccer (MLS), and NFL continue to recruit different players hailing from various countries around the globe to fill in missing spots.

For example, some players throughout the NHL’s history, including Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic) and Teemu Selanne (Finland), got into the league to help teams grow and win games. In particular, Jagr helped Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup championships back in 1991 and 1992.


The gathering and development of top international players serve to stimulate growth in different sports organizations. THe NHL, a leader in recruiting foreign players, as seen by various communities, might be a role model for other sports organizations to follow suit in seeking talents from other countries. In turn, sports leagues can break regional barriers, which might be a stepping stone for world peace.

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One Comment

  1. Derrick C. Beckner
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Quite a useful post. I have just started my career as a Sports Coach/. This post gave me a clear insight into the skills and areas I must improve to succeed in my career. Looking forward to your future posts so that I would gain a clear idea about the current sports industry status.Sports

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