America is a country full of love for food, fashion, culture, education, and more, has its fair share of love for a wide variety of sports.
This can be seen in the numerous world-renowned sporting events that the USA plays host to, legendary and successful players who represent the great American heritage, and the favorite teams and games which make history and tradition.
Let’s take a look at American’s favorite sports. Read on!
- American Football
- Ice Hockey
- Auto Racing/Motorsports
- Mixed Martial Arts
Americans love watching football games, whether it may be at home, at bars, or practically anywhere. This does not come as a surprise since football is America’s national sport, which grew in popularity in the US a century after being created in New Jersey.
The National Football League (NFL) is an American football league divided into 32 teams. It has the highest average number of attendees out of any professional sports league in the entire world, averaging 67,591 in-house spectators in a game.
The Super Bowl game is the most anticipated football game not just in the country but in the world. Legendary NFL quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Dan Marino, and Brett Favre are household names. Due to football’s massive popularity, American football players dominate as some of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
Because of it’s widespread coverage and fandom, we think its safe to say that football is certified America’s Favorite Sport.
Baseball is another one of Americans’ favorite sports, which rose to popularity in the early 20th century. Known as the ‘USA’s national pastime,’ baseball’s famous and most prominent league is the Major League Baseball (MLB), which recorded an average of 9.78 million viewers in 2020.
World-famous American baseball players include Babe Ruth, with an amazing 714 career home runs, Jackie Robinson, who broke down racial barriers to become of the greatest players of all time, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Ted Williams, and many others.
The New York Yankees are the most popular baseball team, having won more titles than any US major professional sports franchise. The Yankees’ rivals, the Boston Red Sox, also enjoy tremendous support from Boston and all throughout New England.
Baseball fans take their support seriously, with the fanbase for the Philadelphia Phillies, one of the National League’s oldest continuous one-name, one-city franchise, even dubbing themselves “Meanest Fans in America.”
More Americans play basketball more than any other team sport, with an average of 26 million players in the US. This sport, invented in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, has grown to be one of the most beloved and followed sports of all time.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most prestigious basketball leagues globally and one of the most major leagues in America. It contains 30 teams that playa season of 82 games from October to June.
The NBA has produced the greatest names in the history of basketball, like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant.
Since the Summer Olympics in 1992, NBA players have had the honor of representing the US on the global stage. The US team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics was even called the “Dream Team,” suggesting the pride and honor the team brings to American fans.
Ice Hockey, usually referred to simply as hockey, is played at the professional level in the National Hockey League (NHL).
In 2019, the game garnered about 5.33 million viewers who watched the NHL Stanley Cup finals, the season-ending tournament. This was the second-highest number of viewers in the past five years.
In 1969, the vast majority of NHL players came from Canada (95% actually!). Today more than 30% are Americans.
Notable players from the NHL include Wayne Gretzky, who is the leading all-time point scorer and also 9-time MVP, Mario Lemieux (3-time MVP), Guy Lafleur (2 time MVP), and Gordie Howe (6 time MVP).
Soccer wasn’t that popular in the USA until Team USA’s great run during the 2014 FIFA World Cup which helped change Americans’ perception of the sport and its popularity forever.
Major League Soccer is the US’ premier soccer league, with 27 clubs in its upcoming 2021 season, planned to expand to 28 teams in 2022 and 30 in 2023. The 34-game season runs from mid-March to late October. The playoffs for the championship are held in November.
A turning point for American soccer came when soccer superstar David Beckham joined the MLS league, playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. The introduction of another British soccer icon Wayne Rooney also helped the success of soccer and increased the viewership of games.
Now, soccer is the third-most played sport in the US, even more widely-played than hockey and football. Because of Major League Soccer’s continuous growth as a global competition, soccer has since then become one of Americans’ favorite sports.
Because of the famous William sisters and many other American tennis players, tennis has risen to prominence as one of America’s most viewed sports.
Big tennis legends such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, and Billie Jean King, who won 12 major titles, helped capture the American interest in tennis. Back then half of the world’s top 100 men’s tennis players were Americans. Now the only American is Jack Sock, ranked at #14.
However, this does not stop the booming interest of Americans toward tennis. With superstars like Serena Williams and Venus Williams, Americans have plenty of excellent representation on the tennis court.
Since the 20th century, Americans have shown a growing interest in the sport of boxing. When the ‘greatest of all time’ American boxer Mohammad Ali began dominating the ring, Americans took notice and boxing fans were born all across America.
Ali’s rival, Joe Frazier, was also American– which made Americans even more interested.
In today’s pay-per-view era of boxing, the biggest and largest pay-per-view draw in the entire history of boxing was that of American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather added a modern day entertainment value to boxing, which helped him break one pay-per-view record after another.
This American favorite has been the focus of successful and critically acclaimed films such as Rocky, Raging Bull, and The Fighter. More than that, early boxing enabled black athletes to represent America and perform as American heroes as well.
Worldwide, when you think of American golf, you think of golf legend Tiger Woods. Woods took golf to a whole new level of public interest and fandom, surpassing those of the great Arnold Palmer and his rival Jack Nicklaus.
Half of the current top 10 golfers in the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) are Americans, with Dustin Johnson currently on the top spot and Jordan Spieth in the third spot. About 25 million Americans play golf recreationally, making it another well-loved sport that is also played by many.
Walter Hagen (11 majors), Ben Hogan, and Nicklaus (18 major records) are just some of the notable male golfers aside from the legendary Woods, while Mickey Wright (13 majors), Louise Suggs, and Babe Zaharias rule as legends of women’s golf.
Auto Racing is widely popular in America, and home-grown races like the Indianapolis 500 and leagues like National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has fans from coast to coast.
One of the most anticipated racing events is the Daytona 500, where many a legend in the racing world have been made
Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt are some of the biggest names to dominate NASCAR, the biggest brand in all of auto racing in America.
Less interest is paid to major international competitions such as the Formula One Grand Prix and MotoGP. However, notable Americans have excelled in these international races, such as Mario Andretti and Kenny Roberts.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gained popularity and became one of the fastest-growing sports in America thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). MMA has 11 weight classes, with two dedicated to women.
The UFC peaked in 2016 because of high-profile fights by Ronda Rousey and Irish superstar Conor McGregor.
Developed in 1990, MMA is promoted by many companies, with US-based UFC as the most dominant. The sport combines many martial arts, with major components in wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
Like boxing, Americans are drawn to their particular favorite fighters, and are well-represented in the MMA world and within the UFC by American fighters.
A love of sports is indeed built into most Americans’ DNA, which they enjoy most for the entertainment it brings, the bonds forged between friends and families enjoying the games and the rivalries they bring, and the pride and honor American athletes bring to Americans.
Sports will always be a part of the vast and diverse American culture, and these are just some of the many sports that America will continue to watch, support, and love.