As a former site of the Olympics and the host of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Berlin sports has a well-deserved reputation as a center for international sports relations. There is also a myriad of activities for the non-professional athlete.
Football / Soccer
Berlin is a footballer’s paradise. Soccer is immensely popular in this city, with over twenty clubs. The most popular team is (arguably) the Hertha BSC Berliner, which uses the Olympiastadion (Olympischer Platz 3), as their home base. This stadium is the second largest in Germany with a capacity of over 76,000 seats.
Eisbären Berlin (Berlin Polar Bears) are the local hockey team. The O2 World Arena (Mühlenstraße 12-30) is their home stadium, with a seating capacity of 17,000. Check out any of their games and cheer by joining in the chorus of “Hey, wir wollen die Eisbären seh’n” (“Yeah, We Wanna See The Polar Bears”).
The Berlin sports scene also has basketball, with ALBA Berlin as the local team. This popular team has won seven consecutive titles in the German League, from 1997 to 2003, and captured its eighth in 2008. It has also won six German Basketball Cups. You can watch the wildly successful ALBA also play at the O2 World Arena (Mühlenstraße 12-30).
A highlight of the Berlin sports scene is the annual Berlin Marathon. Both professional and amateur runners are invited to partake in the 42 km (26 mi) competition. This two-day September event can draw over one million spectators, as well as 40,000 participants from over one hundred countries.
Biking is very popular in this sprawling metropolis and there are many activities for cyclists. Casual bikers may want to take a city bike tour to check out the local sightseeing. The city has even set up a Web site to help avid cyclists calculate the best routes for their journeys.
Swimming is popular year-round with a good variety of indoor and outdoor pools. The most famous is the Strandbad Wannsee (Wannseebadweg 25), an outdoor pool found in the south-west of Berlin.
Winter Sports in Berlin
Berlin sports are a year-round attraction. The winter time offers tobogganing trails and ice skating rinks, like at the Erika-Heß-Stadion (Müllerstraße 165). Don’t miss the “Gletscher” (Berliner Straße 21), purported to be the world’s largest indoor ski slope.
Berlin sports will forever be intertwined with the infamous 1936 Olympic Games, hosted by none other than Adolf Hitler. Most Americans will remember, at a time when non-whites were prohibited from representing Germany in the Games, that Jesse Owens, the African-American runner, won four gold medals.