The Most Popular Sports in the United States

American football is one of the country's most beloved sports.
American football is one of the country's most beloved sports.

Sports are an integral part of American society. Sports are not only tremendously popular in the country they are a means of transmitting values such as teamwork, fair play, and justice. The US offers limitless opportunities for people to engage in sports either as a participant or spectator. Based on participation and revenue, the major sports leagues in the US are Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League, and National Basketball Association. These four leagues enjoy wide media coverage and are among the top lucrative leagues worldwide. Below are the major sports that are enjoyed by Americans.

10. Hockey

Ice hockey is a popular sport in the parts of the country that experience cold winter climates such as the northeast and Midwest. However, the growth of the National Hockey League has caused the sport to gain popularity in the Southwest and Southeast US. The ice hockey structure in the US includes elements from the traditional high school minor leagues and the major junior leagues. The minor leagues include American Hockey League and the ECHL. The NHL is the main hockey professional league in the country with 23 teams taking part in the Stanley Cup.

9. Volleyball

Volleyball is a widely played sport in the US, especially in colleges and universities. Most high schools and colleges in the country have female volleyball teams while many areas of the country are forming development programs for both male and female teams of all ages. Many organizations throughout the country such as churches and YMCA also participate in junior volleyball games. Volleyball is currently the third highest sport for women participation in schools and colleges. The men’s and women’s national teams have each won medals at the international games such as Olympic Games and FIVB World Championship. Beach volleyball which is played along the US beaches is also gaining popularity in the country.

8. Baseball

The highest level of baseball in the US is the Major League Baseball. The sport was developed in the country over 150 years ago and has been played in the northeast region longer than other regions in the country. New York City is synonymous with the New York Yankees baseball team that is associated with all-time greats and has also won more titles than any other sports team in the country. Currently, 30 teams take part in the Major League Baseball. 15 of these teams take part in the American League while the other 15 take part in National League. Minor league baseball takes care of the mid-sized cities in the US. The minor leagues are organized in six levels with the major cities without major leagues forming the highest tier. Other independent leagues also operate in the country but are not as popular as the MBL.

7. Basketball

Basketball is played by more Americans than any other team sport in the country. Although basketball was invented by a Canadian, more Americans (26 million) play it compared to Canadians. It is played at all levels and across all ages including in high schools, colleges, and at the national level. The National Basketball Association is a men’s professional league and a major sports league in North America. The league consists of 30 teams that play 82 games a season. The NBA players also represent the US in international competitions such as the Olympic Games. The women’s basketball league is governed by the Women’s National Basketball Association.

6. Football

American football, simply known as football, is the most popular sport in the US in terms of participation in school level. Most of the participants are male. The National Football League has the highest average attendance and TV viewership in the US. Football events are organized into leagues of different sizes and ages in all the parts of the country. There is no governing body for football in the country. Organized football matches are played mostly by men and boys. Currently, 32 teams take part in the National Football League which is the only major professional league in the US. College and high school football are also popular across the country with top schools attracting thousands of spectators.

5. Swimming

Swimming became a competitive sport in the US in the 1880s with the Amateur Athletic Union becoming the first recognized swimming organization. The organization was charged with the operation of several sports in the US including swimming. Today, the United States is a dominant force in international swimming competitions. Young swimmers in the US also take part in swimming competitions at club levels and in schools. Students are required to reach a certain academic level before they can sign up for national championships. College swimmers are eligible to compete in the national championship based on the qualifying time.

4. Track and field

Track and field events in the US involve individual athletes competing in events including sprint, hurdling, jumping events, throwing events, and combined events such as heptathlon and decathlon. The US has frequently set a world record in several track and field events for both male and female athletes at international competitions. The track and field events in the US are governed by USA Track & Field. The body organizes annual USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Track and field events are also promoted at high school and college levels. The US is home to school-sponsored track and field where schools and colleges compete in track and field teams.

3. Tennis

Tennis in the US is played in all five categories (single, double, and mix). However, the single category is the most popular. The peak of tennis in the US is the US Open which is played around August annually at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The country has achieved great success in tennis over the years with several players such as Don Budge, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, and the Williams sisters dominating the sport. Bob and Mike Bryan have dominated the men’s double team claiming all the significant career records.

2. Golf

Golf is played by about 25 million people in the United States with professional golf events aired on several TV networks. The sport’s rules are set and administered by the United States Golf Association and The R & A. The USGA organizes three national championships including US Open, US Women’s Open, and US Senior Open. Amateur, junior, and seniors can also participate in organized national championships. The PGA of America organizes annual championships such as the PGA tour which features four tournaments and World Golf Championship. Golf in the US is particularly associated with the elite in society and is considered a pastime by many.


National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) governs the auto-racing sport in the United States. NASCAR was founded in 1948 by William France Sr and other drivers at the time. It is mostly a regional circuit followed by millions of viewers in the US and abroad. NASCAR is second to National Football League in terms of TV viewership and fans in the country. There are several organized NASCAR series in the US including the famous Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series consisting of 36 cars, Xfinity series, Camping World Track series, and Pinty’s series. To ensure the safety of the drivers and cars, NASCAR has published security measures that drivers are expected to adhere to. However, these features are often adopted after an injury or fatality.


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