There probably isn’t a name that is more renowned than that of Magnus Carlsen in the world right now, almost everybody who plays the game has heard about him. This makes sense since he is the world champion.
However, some of you might wonder how famous he actually is in Norway specifically (his homeland) and whether he is getting a lot of appreciation for his achievements. That is what this article is all about.
After doing a lot of research, here is what I’ve learned:
Magnus Carlsen can be argued to be the most popular Norwegian outside of Norway, in Norway however, he is not as popular. During his world chess championship matches, almost everyone views his games. The only comparable sportsman in terms of popularity is the skier Petter Northug.
His name speaks for itself, you can’t be watching tournaments without even hearing his name. But in Norway specifically, he may not be as revered as you think he is.
Magnus Carlsen is more famous outside of Norway than in Norway
Magnus Carlsen being the world champion is more popular outside of Norway than inside of Norway, since he plays internationally, more people that are outside the borders know him as a chess player.
A lot of you may assume that Magnus Carlsen is as famous in Norway as he is outside of it, this is actually not true. Magnus mainly participates in international competitions where his name is much more likely to be presented.
The majority of chess players are likely to be of international origins than those that have come from Norway, the most avid chess countries (USA, Russia, India) are all outside of Norway.
This means that the majority of chess players that know Magnus Carlsen by heart are much more likely to be outside of Norway statistically speaking.
This is because chess is not as popular in Norway as in other countries, people that are more likely to appreciate Carlsen are those that are into the game in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, Magnus Carlsen is definitely popular since he has received a lot of media coverage from within of Norway. It is just that he is more popular outside of the country than inside of it.
Magnus Carlsen is popular in Norway
Magnus Carlsen is still quite famous in Norway however, he is not so much more popular than other revered sportsmen in their own country just like Lebron James as an NBA player for example.
When you think about the NBA (the highest league in U.S. basketball) it is a sport that is naturally loved by its country. Chess on the other hand did not receive as much traction before Magnus started succeeding.
Lebron James is almost treated like a Hollywood celebrity even though he is a sportsman, Magnus Carlsen definitely doesn’t receive the same treatment in Norway.
He is still very famous, like every other person in Norway has likely heard his name and that he is the world champion of chess. But not a lot of people are into him like with the Lebron James example.
Most people recognize him and support his matches, but they don’t dig deep enough for Magnus to be considered a celebrity. Being a celebrity requires a more intense fascination than just support and recognition.
Petter Northug is more popular than Magnus Carlsen in Norway
Norway skier Petter Northug can be the one that rivaled Magnus Carlsen in terms of popularity in Norway, Petter in comparison to Magnus was much more talked about since skiing is the national sport of the country.
Magnus is still pretty popular, but it cannot be denied that the unpopularity of chess in the country itself is holding him back.
There are not a lot of recognized sportsmen in Norway, so Magnus definitely got the eye of the masses since there are not a lot of people that have similar accolades.
Petter Northug is much more famous just because the area that he specialized in (skiing) is something that the country naturally loves. Magnus is still popular, but not the most popular sportsman in the country.
Magnus Carlsen is not as popular as his sport is chess
Chess was quite obscure in Norway before Magnus Carlsen came to the scene, not a lot of people talk about it before Carlsen succeeded in his career.
Magnus lit the fire in everyone’s heart for the game, since then a lot of people have been following more chess games than ever in the country.
All of these are true, however, it cannot be denied that this is still partly why Magnus Carlsen is not the most famous sportsman in the country. He is overqualified when it comes to chess if you think about it.
He is probably one of the best players of all time, not just someone who is very skilled. If he did not dominate the game as much as he did today, I don’t think that a lot of people would recognize him in Norway.
Magnus Carlsen is at least top 10 when it comes to popularity in Norway
Magnus is not the most famous figure in Norway but he is probably in the top 10 (including the entertainers) so he is very well appreciated for his craft.
This post is not meant to say that Norwegians just don’t appreciate Carlsen, it is just that it is not what you expect coming from the world champion.
People outside of Norway definitely think that he is more famous than he actually is, he is quite well known outside of the country after all. This is not the case however.
Magnus is still famous in Norway since being in the top 10 most revered person is not an easy accomplishment, but I’d expect something like a top 5. Not a lot of people will say Magnus as being in the top five.
The fact that there is a doubt for Carlsen’s placement as the top five in a country such as Norway means that his popularity is not cut and dry. In other words, there is room for debate.
He is still a figure that is treated with respect in terms of his accolades but he definitely is more well-known outside the country. This is also probably due to the fact that is not that chess is not that popular in Norway in the first place.
Magnus Carlsen’s television viewership is usually high
Still, Magnus is quite popular in Norway as he brings the pride of being the world chess champion for the country. He has a lot of support especially during his world chess championship matches.
During the playoffs between Carlsen and Karjakin, television viewership reached more than a million (in a country that is over 5 million people only). This is an incredible number.
We must take into consideration that not a lot of people are chess players in Norway, there are many who are willing to check out Carlsen’s game even if they are not chess players already.
This is really surprising since let’s be real, world chess championship matches are probably one of the most boring games in chess. The time control is super long and the games mostly end in a draw.
People who don’t casually watch chess games are most likely to find the world chess championship bouts to be anticlimactic, usually there’s not a lot of interesting things going on.
The fact that some Norwegians who are not a chess player themselves are willing to watch these matches shows support for their world chess champion. I am even surprised that his matches are on the television.
Tv networks usually don’t agree in broadcasting sports/competitions that don’t have a lot of traction, the fact that they are willing to air the matches means that there is a potential audience to it.
And since there is a lot of viewership, it means that Magnus Carlsen is someone well-known in his homeland Norway.
Magnus Carlsen receives a lot of media attention in Norway
Whenever Magnus Carlsen accomplished something that is worthy of incredible praise, all of the major media are going to report about it (including newspapers, television shows, and even websites that are based in Norway).
It is not only the television networks that I have mentioned above, there are also other media that are willing to share what he has accomplished.
Some testimonies say that newspapers have reported about Carlsen on multiple pages even if there’s not a lot of things to talk about. There are even more things if he has done something incredible.
Through these mediums, Magnus Carlsen has become a famous figure in Norway even though chess is not that popular in itself, I think this will also play a huge role in maintaining his image within the country.
Magnus Carlsen has accolades from organizations within Norway
Magnus Carlsen received a lot of accolades from within Norway which is a testament to his popularity there. In 2014 he is indicated to be the greatest sportsman in the country (of course this changes year after year).
During famous soccer matches, he has a special mention among huge crowds of individuals, he is obviously well-respected as a sportsman.
There are also many other smaller sports events that he has received recognition before the actual play, at least he is a respected figure in the country.
This is adding to the fact that he is on a different field as all of those other sports, this tells something. It means that the people of Norway are proud of the world chess champion even if he might not be the top 1 celebrity of the country.
Magnus Carlsen receives a lot of support from Norway chess fans
There are many occasions where Carlsen’s world chess championship matches coincided with people’s business yet everyone was still able to watch them. His games are even broadcasted on Norway television.
Most of his games are played during the weekdays rather than the weekends, a time where people are busy with their work or in school. Even still, people find ways to support their world chess champion.
Many testimonies claim that in schools, people would not listen to their classes just to take a peek at what’s happening on the board, more people are looking at the match than there are people checking on their Facebook notifications.
In work similar conundrums arise as people will take a break or two on what’s really happening in the matches, people clearly love Magnus Carlsen.
This also applies in some of his regular tournament tours that are not necessarily for the world chess championship title, even if he is not the top celebrity he is still quite famous.
Magnus Carlsen definitely carries the reputation of chess in general whenever he goes, he is the representative of the game throughout the entire world. Almost all chess players know his name.
He is a very respected figure in Norway since he has done so much and international competitions, that fact will never change. However, it cannot be denied that his reputation is better on the outside.
More people outside the country know Carlsen’s games and life by heart, a lot of his fanboys are actually from other countries that are not in Norway.
This doesn’t mean that he is not popular in Norway, it is just that he is more popular outside of it. That is it for today, sleep well and play chess.