It’s no secret that Americans love their sports.
As of 2022, the sports market in America is valued at about $80.5 billion. To give some perspective, this is 50% more than all the major leagues in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined.
There are several reasons for the lucrative sports market in the States. For starters, media coverage of sporting events is extensive and constant, with the power to turn great players into all-stars overnight. Not to mention, the presence of sports in the American college system has become a pivotal element of American culture.
Sports is an interest that America certainly shares with many other countries, however sport culture looks and feels different in each place. From judo in Japan to hurling in Ireland, the options are endless when it comes to various sports to play or watch.
Do you know the top 5 most popular sports in the United States? Read on to find out!
#5: Ice Hockey
The origins of ice hockey are a bit unclear and contested, however most people consider ice hockey to have officially been developed in Canada in the 1870s before gaining popularity in the U.S. Ice hockey is played in the winter, which gives spectators the opportunity to enjoy the game indoors. But if you go to a game, be sure to keep your head up– slapshots can travel faster than the average car! Bobby Hull holds the record for the fastest slapshot, clocked in at 118 miles an hour. Overall, Wayne Gretzky holds 61 NHL records, which is the most by far of any player.
Soccer, commonly called “football” in other parts of the world, is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world’s most popular sport. The earliest versions of the game can be traced back to over 3,000 years ago! Women started officially playing soccer around the same time as men did in England about 150 years ago, however women’s soccer began to increase in popularity in the 1990s. Alex Morgan is widely considered one of the top female American soccer players and Cristiano Ronaldo is admired as one of the top male soccer players of all time.
Major League Baseball is the oldest professional sports league globally. In September 1845, a group of men in New York City founded the first ever baseball club. Since then, the sport became increasingly popular in other countries such as the Dominican Republic, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Japan. In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black person to play for a Major League Baseball team. More recently, in 2020, Alyssa Nakken became the first full-time female MLB head coach, working for the San Francisco Giants.
The game of basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts. During that time, the basketball hoops were peach baskets! The baskets were attached to the balcony so spectators could interfere with the game by hitting the ball away when a team would take a shot. Originally intended to keep athletes in shape during the winter season, the sport soon gained popularity all over the world. The teams with the most titles are the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers. The greatest players of all time are Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird.
American football, a combination of soccer and rugby, is by far the most popular sport in America. It started to gain traction in the U.S. in the 1860s and became increasingly popular in the 1920s when the NFL was formed. To give an idea of how integral football is to American culture, the 2022 Super Bowl was watched by over 112 million Americans. The NFL is also the most profitable professional sports league in the world.
Although these are the 5 most popular sports in America right now, notice how most of them originated from or are currently played in other countries! Sports is a beautiful connector of people from all parts of the world. A lot of the time, sports can help us put aside our differences so that we can just play.
Take a moment to have a conversation with your exchange student about sports! Find a few guiding questions below to kick things off:
- What kind of sports are popular in your home country?
- If any, what sports do you like to play?
- What kind of American sports game would you be interested in going to?
- How do you think sports in America are different from sports in other countries?
- Who is your favorite sports player?
Let us know what they say in the comments!