Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America

Sports are a big part of American culture. Some American sports are similar to pastimes in other countries, but the United States remains a country with a unique sports heritage. Currently, 59% of Americans say they are sports fans. However, sports aren’t just about supporting your favorite team.

As the love of sports continues to be predominant, we take a closer look at the most popular sports in the U.S.

1. American Football

American football is one of the biggest North American sports. It is often referred to as gridiron or gridiron football. American football is a game about moving the ball into the opposition’s ‘end zone’ as much as it is about scoring points. The game was created back in the 1800s and is the champion of U.S. spectator sports — followed by 37% of Americans.

2. Baseball

Baseball remains atop Americans’ sporting interests, with a tradition dating back more than a century. A recent Gallup poll shows that 9% of Americans are listing baseball as their favorite sport. About 68.5 million people attended baseball games during the 2019 regular season. Consequently, MLB revenue came in at around $10bn in 2016. Certainly, baseball is not America’s favorite sport, but it still has plenty of ticket buyers.

3. Basketball

Basketball is now a fixture in most (if not all) of the states in the United States. The sport draws a massive following in the U.S. and around the world. Today’s NBA is a professional sports league on the rise.

NBA finals averaged 20.4m viewers (a 20-year record), which is partly due to NBA’s expanded marketing efforts abroad. 

4. Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey is steady at 5 percent popularity in the U.S., and the U.S. hockey universe is continuously expanding. The NHL’s 10-year contract with NBC shows that hockey’s popularity has spread beyond Canada. Also, there’s a growing number of junior hockey leagues. Over the last ten years, THFF has welcomed more than 166,000 children to the sport.

5. Soccer

The popularity of soccer—both in participation and interest— is soaring. Major League Soccer (MLS) has come a long way over the last decade. However, much of this growth can be attributed to expansion teams. With millennials showing more interest in soccer than older people, it seems soccer’s tremendous worldwide popularity has a positive effect on its reputation in the U.S.

6. Tennis

Tennis is the most global sport. In the U.S., over 14 million people report they have an interest in playing tennis. Tennis experienced a “boom” in the 1970s, and there’s currently high tennis participation among youth. Three women from the U.S. are ranked in the top 10 world tennis rankings. However, American tennis needs to do better.

7. Martial Arts

Martial arts originated in Asia, and the practice dates back thousands of years. In the United States, martial arts is more popular than the NHL. Every year, about 3.6 million Americans actively participate in martial arts. In 2019, males accounted for 64.7% of the industry’s clientele. There are martial arts events at all times during the year.   

8. Golf

Since its emergence as a major spectator event in the 1920s, golf’s overall reach has grown to an estimated 108 Million. Traditional participation has stabilized in recent years, with many courses reporting increased demand. Additionally, the number of “latent golfers,” has risen to 12.8 million. Americans now make up 32 percent of the Top 100 golf players in the world.

9. Volleyball

Volleyball is a widely played sport in the US. The first official game of volleyball was played in 1986 at Springfield College. Since then, there have been many exceptional athletes who have made a positive impact on volleyball. Additionally, ASU and UA have good volleyball programs. Currently, there is an amazing volleyball culture in the United States. This culture involves viewers meeting on weekends to enjoy the game. Many of these viewers watch the game while enjoying a barbeque prepared on a well-insulated Kamado type grill. The thrill of the game and the barbecue and drinks going around makes it a worthwhile experience.

10. Boxing

Boxing is a sport of fighting with fists, also called pugilism. But boxing is as much, if not more, a business. The game of boxing came to the United States from England in the 18th century. Today, 28 percent of Americans see themselves as fans of professional boxing. In 2017, the number of participants in boxing amounted to approximately 6.53 million. The sport continues to break its Pay-Per-View numbers.

Bottom Line:

Be it screaming during the Super Bowl or showing up to support their favorite teams in different venues, Americans love sports. Hopefully, a fair number of Americans will continue to either participate or follow sports.