As I am somewhat obsessed by the mechanisms of empire, I have always taken a great interest in the residual trappings left behind during an empire's occupation. Certain cultural elements are always left behind by a dominating power, the influence of Greek and Roman art and architecture spread throughout the client states of their previous span, for instance.
For some reason two particular manifestations of the current American/European period of empire have always fascinated me.
First is the adoption of the western business suit on a global basis. As ubiquitous as it seems now, there is absolutely no reason, beyond western cultural influence, that the business suit and tie should be the costume for the world's apparatchiks. It could similarly be some sort of robe or some other garment that represents worldwide "seriousness" if another power had dominated the world for the past 200 years. Just curious to me.
Second, is the games. The Romans famously spread their version of games throughout the world, drawing in participants from throughout their empire. You can almost date the imperial influence by the games which dominate a vassal country.
The countries that were influenced by the British around the turn of the last century picked up cricket as a national sport, India, Pakistan, the West Indies. Interestingly, in the "white countries" of the British empire, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, they also spread Rugby. (I guess they didn't want to actually touch the non-whites.)
Now, if you look at the influence of American sport, it can almost be used to date the areas of influence. Baseball represents the immediate post world war two period through about 1958. Japan, South Korea, and also the Carribean and Central American countries which were marked by the interventions of the fifties.
Now, it's not quite clear yet as there's not enough temporal distance, but I would put forth that basketball may represent the interventions of the eighties and nineties in central Europe. I'm not sure yet, but basketball in Europe, from Germany to Italy and eastward, really boomed during the efforts to prise the western Soviet republics loose from Russia in the 80's.
And what is there to say about golf, certainly not an indigineous US sport, but largely brought to popularization in the US starting with the ultra rich private clubs of the late 1800s. And, now, golf has become the wealthy's passtime of choice throughout the top economic centers where the US has held sway over the past few decades, Japan, the middle east.....
Sorry, for the ramble, this is just something that has always fascinated me. What brought this on today is the defeat of the US team by the South Koreans
in the "World Baseball Classic." I know that at this point it's a one off, but the US teams have been facing greater competition in other of its "imperial" sports, basketball for example.
I just got to thinking of that day in the future when America is as non-competitive in its "imperial sports" as the British have become in cricket. The Roman crowds eventually watched games comprised exclusively of foreigners.
(I left soccer out of this because it's development is far more complicated and its ubiquitousness makes it far more difficult to analyze.)