The Most Played Sports In North America

By Susanna Redmer on February 25 2020 in Society

Football is one of the most popular sports in North America, and over 100,000,000 people watch the Super Bowl each year.
Football is one of the most popular sports in North America, and over 100,000,000 people watch the Super Bowl each year.
  • There is a debate whether basketball or baseball is more popular in North America.
  • The UFC was bought for 4,000,000,000 USD, which is the biggest sale in sports history.
  • The U.S., Canada, and Mexico are co-hosting the 2026 World Cup.

North Americans love playing sports. Youth play sports competitively and many aspire to play professional sports. Higher education universities and colleges have large athletic programs with million-dollar budgets. The U.S. is also home to four professional sports leagues. Sports are major businesses in the U.S. and draw many spectators every year. However, some sports are more popular than others. Here are the sports that are the most played in North America.

10. Golf

Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers in history.

Around 5,000,000 Americans tune in to watch golf during the major golf tournaments. Golf is both a leisurely and competitive sport in North America, with new talent rising all the time. U.S. golfer Tiger Woods became a household name in the 1990s and ’00s. Many of the golfers in the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) are from North America. Golf is a popular sport in betting markets.

9. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

UFC is the largest MMA promotion company in the world.

MMA is a newer sport, but it has surged in popularity. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the largest MMA promotion company in the world and features the best MMA fighters in the world fighting against each other. MMA is a full-contact sport. Fighters use a variety of martial arts techniques to strike or grapple their opponents. Now, it is one of the fastest-growing sports in North America. Top MMA fighters frequently set and break attendance records. The UFC was bought for 4,000,000,000 USD in 2016, which was the biggest sale in sports history.

8. Motorsports

NASCAR is the most popular motorsports company in the United States.

Americans love to watch rubber burn on the racetrack. The Indy 500 and Daytona 500 are the sport’s most popular races. NASCAR is the most popular brand of racing in America. However, NASCAR has experienced a loss in viewers in recent years. Motorsport racing is still a popular North American sport despite the recent decline in viewership.

7. Tennis

Tennis players who compete in the U.S. Open are the best in the game.

Tennis grew in popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, and others paved the way for top modern players like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams. These players proved that tennis is not for the faint of heart. Professional tennis tournaments like the U.S. Open, Mexican Open (Abierto Mexicano Tencel), and Canada’s Rogers Cup excite fans all over the world. 

6. Boxing

Muhammad Ali is a boxing legend.

American boxer Muhammad Ali is considered to be the best boxer of all time. He made boxing more popular than ever with his catchphrase: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Many talented and well-known boxers have come out of North America. Mexico has produced several world champions including Julio Cesar Chavez, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Adam Braidwood, Tommy Burns, and Trevor Berbick are well-known Canadian boxers.

5. Soccer

The U.S. men's soccer team does poorly, but the women's team dominates.

Soccer is popular around the world, but only the fifth most popular sport in North America. When Mexico and the U.S. play against each other it is always a rivalry. The Mexican men’s team has qualified for the FIFA World Cup consecutively since 1994. While the U.S. Women’s soccer team has dominated world play, the U.S. Men’s team has struggled. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico will co-host the World Cup in 2026.

4. Ice Hockey

Hockey is considered the national sport of Canada.

Ice hockey is immensely popular in the U.S. and Canada. U.S. hockey goes back to 1894 when the first artificial ice rink was built in Baltimore, Maryland. U.S. hockey starts in youth leagues and goes all the way up to the National Hockey League (NHL), which is the U.S. and Canada’s professional hockey league. Canada is considered a hockey nation. 

3. Baseball

Baseball is incredibly popular in the United States, Cuba, Mexico, and Canada.

Baseball is considered America's pastime. The Mexican Baseball League is the oldest league in Mexico. The league began in 1925, and it is just one grade below the U.S.’s Major League Baseball. Baseball is also very popular in Cuba, and the Cuban national team plays against many international teams. Baseball Canada oversees baseball in Canada and represents players, umpires, and coaches in the country. North America has baseball players, teams, and fans of all ages.

2. Basketball

The NBA includes players of many different nationalities.

Basketball is a game played indoors and outdoors in North America. Most U.S. schools and parks have basketball courts, so players of the game start young. Many North American youth basketball players hope to one day play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), which is the U.S’s premier professional basketball league. The NBA recruits players from numerous countries around the world. The NBA has featured iconic players like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and the late Kobe Bryant.

1. American Football

Many Americans start playing football at a young age.

American football is a contact sport that is mostly played in the U.S. and Canada. The object of the game is to move the ball forward into an endzone, while the opposite team tries to stop forward progress. After four chances to move the ball forward ten yards, the team with the ball must kick it to the other team so they have a chance to move the ball into their end zone. Football leagues in America start at a young age and go all the way to the National Football League (NFL), which is the most talented level of American Football in the world. The Canadian Football League (CFL) is Canada's highest level of professional football. Many international countries may not understand the rules or appeal of the game, but over 100,000,000 Americans watch the Super Bowl, which is the NFL's championship game.

More in Society

worldatlas.com

WorldAtlas