Sport has always been important for Poles. Top athletes enjoy enormous esteem, earn big money and appear in advertisement campaigns. Over the past years, tennis players Agnieszka Radwańska and Jerzy Janowicz, basketball player Marcin Gortat (playing for NBA), skier Justyna Kowalczyk, racing driver Robert Kubica and football player Robert Lewandowski have joined the group. However, not always the most popular athletes in Poland are those Poles about whom the world talks in the sport context. After 2000 for a whole decade Adam Małysz, ski jumping champion, was the greatest idol, although this discipline is lesser known in the world and practiced only in a dozen or so countries. Małysz’s greatest achievements were watched on TV by as many as 11,000,000 Poles.
The achievements of Polish skiers are quite a paradox – only 1% of Poles admit doing this sport. Much more of them prefer jogging (16%), playing football (16%) or exercising in the gym (15%). Generally, the percentage of persons living an active lifestyle is not impressive in Poland – every third Pole admits to it. This is one of the reasons why the number of cardiovascular disease cases is still so high in Poland, although it has been dropping over the past years (the number of myocardial infarcts has dropped from 400 cases to 170 per 100,000 men).
Watching sporting events on TV or stadiums is definitely more popular than doing physical exercises. Football, volleyball and skiing have the biggest number of spectators, also speedway stadiums are usually full (the Polish speedway league is the world’s strongest league). After EURO 2012 Poland can no longer complain about its out-of-date infrastructure – a dozen or so modern football stadiums, including some of outstanding beauty, for example in Gdansk, Warsaw and Wroclaw have been built in Poland. Several thousands of stadiums for the youngest football players (Orliki pitches for children), many swimming pools and sports halls have been erected. And indeed, in Adam Małysz’s home town a modern ski jump has been built.