This article describes the most popular professional sports in the United States.
American Football is the Most Popular Sport in the U.S.
American football is the most popular spectator sport in the United States. It is a combat game where highly trained athletes skillfully and brutally execute strategic plans. Attending a football game often begins with a “tailgate party” in the parking lot of the stadium followed by several hours of rowdy, emotionally charged excitement. Most fans watch football while gathered in a local bar or at a friend’s home in front of a big-screen TV.
The National Football League (NFL) consists of two separate conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Between both conferences there are 32 professional teams located in major cities across the USA. Each team plays 16 games between early September and the end of December. The best team from each conference meet at the Superbowl near the end of January. Games are mainly on Sunday afternoons with a few nationally televised games on certain weeknights. It is difficult to get tickets for any NFL games as they are generally “sold out” before the season begins. You can sometimes obtain tickets through travel agents and ticket brokers at premium prices. You can almost always buy tickets, for a high price, from illegal “ticket scalpers” in front of the stadium just before a game.
At hundreds of universities across the USA, they play college football games on Saturday afternoons. Games at the “football schools” with outstanding teams often attract over 100,000 fans. It is difficult to obtain tickets to games at the best football schools but easy to get tickets at the less popular college games.
Baseball has an Entirely Different Atmosphere
Baseball is the second most popular sport in the USA and it has a completely different atmosphere than football. It is a game of intense concentration and the near perfect execution of playing skill. Attending a baseball game might start with a tailgate party that resembles a family picnic followed by several hours of relaxed socializing with friends while watching the game.
There are 30 Major League baseball teams divided into the National League and the American League. Each team plays about 160 games on weekday evenings or weekend afternoons between early spring and late fall. The best team from each league meet in late fall for the World Series games to determine the National Champion. Only the most popular games are sold out, so you can normally buy tickets to most Major League games.
Several hundred minor league baseball teams play in smaller cities across the USA and Canada. Each team is affiliated with one of the Major League teams and used as a training ground for future Major League players. Tickets are almost always available for minor league games.
Basketball is a Very Popular Winter Sport in the U.S.
Basketball combines the fast-paced excitement of football with the concentration and athletic prowess of baseball. Basketball games can be intensely exciting.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) contains 29 teams from major Canadian and US cities. They play about 100 games on evenings and a few afternoons between October and May. The championship games are in June. NBA games in many cities are sold out well in advance, so it may be difficult to obtain tickets. There are ten Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams in the US. Their games are not as popular as the NBA games but are just as exciting, and you can easily obtain tickets.
Hundreds of universities across the USA play college basketball. At the “basketball schools” with excellent teams ticket might be hard to find.
Ice Hockey is Also a Popular Winter Sport in the U.S.
Ice hockey is not as popular as football, baseball or basketball, but it has a loyal following of fans in certain cities of the USA and Canada. The game has the fast paced excitement of football and basketball with plenty of violent body contact. Hockey games have a reputation for attracting loud, beer-drinking, rowdy fans.
The National Hockey League (NHL) has 30 teams in major cities across the USA and Canada. Each team plays about 80 games between October and April. Playoff elimination games are held after the season and the two top teams play in the “Stanley Cup” championship. Tickets are available for hockey games in most cities as only the most popular games are sold out.
Soccer is Becoming More Popular in the U.S.
It has taken many years and many soccer leagues starting and failing, but the U.S. finally has two stable soccer leagues: the men’s Major League Soccer (MLS) league and the women’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Auto Racing in the U.S.
Stock car racing was once popular primarily with the rural population in the small towns of Southeastern USA. Today, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is one of the fastest growing spectator sports across the USA. About 35 major NASCAR races are held each year plus about 60 minor or specialty races. Tickets are usually available at most NASCAR racetracks as they have large seating capacities. The racing season begins in February in the southern states and extends through the end of August. Annual championships are awarded based on points accumulated throughout the season.
Minor league stock car racing is still held at numerous smaller tracks across the country where local racecars and drivers compete for regional championships. Drag racing meets are held at numerous “drag strips” across the US. Truck pulls, tractor pulls, big wheel exhibitions and demolition derbies are held at various racetracks and stadiums around the USA.