Sports in the USA (United States of America) has been a part of the country’s tradition and culture for a very long time now. On the basis of global sporting events like the Olympics and other major tournaments and events, USA has been a hub of global sporting action and the country has produced a plethora of Sports personnel who have brought laurels to the nation in their long and illustrious sporting history.
The United States of America (USA) has been ruling the world of sports specifically in American Football (NFL), Basketball, and Baseball. Apart from them, Ice Hockey, Wrestling, Lawn Tennis, Golf, Soccer, Volleyball, and Handball are the other popular sports in the USA.
On the basis of popularity, the National Football League (NFL) leads the race followed by Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA). The National Hockey League (NHL) and the Major League Soccer (MLS) are the other two popular sports in the USA.
Sports in the USA is a basic part of the education system of the country with various tournaments taking place at the school and college level. College sports have been the birthplace of certain legendary sportsmen who have represented the United States of America on the global stage. College Basketball and College Football are the two most followed College sports in the USA.
There is also a separate governing body in the USA that looks after college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Sports in the USA is majorly played in a league format with teams spread out as franchises representing different states, cities, or a specific geographical territory. Once all the matches of the league are completed, the teams then contest in the playoffs. Sports in the USA is different from European sports as it does not follow any relegation or promotion system within the leagues.
Some of the most famous sports in the world including but not limited to, Basketball, Volleyball, Snowboarding, and Skateboarding are the inventions that were made in the United States. However, the USA is often said to have followed sports that have evolved in Europe.
Horse racing remained the leading sport in the 1780–1860 era, especially in the South. Alexander Cartwright (1820-1892) of New York invented the Baseball field as we know it in 1845. The first formal rules for Basketball were devised in 1892. While Rutgers and Princeton played what was then billed as the first American college football game on November 6, 1869, the game did not come into its own until 1879 with rules instituted by Walter Camp, a player/coach at Yale University.
William Morgan invented Volleyball in 1895 at the Holyoke, Massachusetts, YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) where he served as Director of Physical Education.
Unlike other national governments, the United States government does not provide funding to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), the National Olympic Committee of the country. However, the United States’ athletes have always made their countrymen proud by winning a plethora of medals in the Olympics. The USA has won gold at every game in which it has competed, more gold and overall medals than any other country in the Summer Games and also has the second-most gold and overall medals in the Winter Games, trailing Norway.
Swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, with 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold. The United States of America has won the most medals in Athletics (track and field) and Swimming.
Earlier, the USA had to face stiff competition from only one major rival, the Soviet Union at Summer Games and with the Soviet Union, Norway, and East Germany at the Winter Games. But, as the Soviet Union dissolved, China and Great Britain emerged as their greatest competitors in the Summer Games and Norway and Canada at the Winter Games.
The United States of America has hosted a total of 8 Olympic tournaments so far. Out of this, 4 have been Summer Games and the other 4 have been Winter Games.
List of Olympic tournaments hosted by the USA
- 1904 Olympic Games Summer in St Louis
- 1932 Olympic Games Summer in LA
- 1932 Winter Olympic Games Lake Placid
- 1960 Winter Olympic Games Squaw Valley
- 1980 Winter Olympic Games Lake Placid
- 1984 Olympic Games Summer LA
- 1996 Olympic Games Summer Atlanta
- 2002 Winter Olympic Games Salt Lake City
Upcoming sports events in the USA
- 2021 World Games in Birmingham.
- 2022 World Athletic Championships, in Eugene, Oregon USA
- 2023 Winter Universiade in Lake Placid
- 2028 Olympic Games in LA
Team Sports in the USA
American Football (NFL)
American Football is the most popular sports in the USA. The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC).
The National Football League (NFL) was founded in the year 1920 in a meeting that resulted in the formation of the American Professional Football Conference (APFC). After a 16-game regular season, each conference sends six teams to the NFL Playoffs, which eventually culminate in the league’s championship game, the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest annual sports in the United States.
Notable former NFL players include Roger Staubach, Dick Butkus, Joe Greene, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, and Peyton Manning. Notable current NFL players include Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, J. J. Watt, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers.
Major League Baseball (MLB)
The Major League Baseball (MLB) is the premier baseball tournament in the USA. Baseball is the second most popular sports in the USA after American Football. A total of 30 teams play in Major League Baseball, 15 teams in the National League (NL) and 15 in the American League (AL).
The Major League Baseball (MLB) was founded in the 1860s, aided by soldiers playing the game in camp during the Civil War, New York-style baseball expanded into a national game and spawned baseball’s first governing body, The National Association of Base Ball Players. The World Series of Major League Baseball is the culmination of the sport’s postseason each October. It is played between the winner of each of the two leagues, the American League and the National League, and the winner is determined through a best-of-seven playoff.
Notable American baseball players in history include Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter and Jackie Robinson.
National Basketball Association (NBA)
With an estimated 14,000 attendance per match, Basketball is the 3rd most popular sports in the USA. A Canadian physical education teacher James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, invented the game of Basketball in 1891.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the world’s premier men’s professional basketball league and one of the major professional sports leagues of North America. It contains 30 teams (29 teams in the U.S. and 1 in Canada) that play an 82-game season from October to June. After the regular season, eight teams from each conference compete in the playoffs for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Basketball is played throughout the country and is one of the most followed sports in the USA. Its popularity can be determined from the fact that it is played as a competition at the school and college level. Every March, a 68-team, six-round, single-elimination tournament (commonly called March Madness) determines the national champions of NCAA Division I men’s college basketball.
Notable NBA players in history include Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Bob Pettit, Bob Cousy, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jason Kidd. Notable players in the NBA today include LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Dwayne Wade, and Kevin Durant.
National Hockey League (NHL)
In North America, the National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest level for men’s hockey. It is the 4th most popular sports in the USA. In Ice Hockey, by 1902, the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League was the first to employ professionals.
In 1910, the National Hockey Association (NHA) was formed in Montreal. The NHL is the major professional hockey league in North America, with 24 U.S.-based teams and 7 Canadian-based teams competing for the Stanley Cup.
Notable NHL players in history include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur, Gordie Howe, Nicklas Lidström, Bobby Hull, Eddie Shore, Howie Morenz, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Jean Beliveau, Bobby Clarke, and Bobby Orr. Famous NHL players today include Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.
Major League Soccer (MLS)
Soccer is the fifth most popular sports in the USA. Recently after the introduction of great soccer players like David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, Major League Soccer (MLS) has witnessed a sharp increase in the viewership.
Having been found in 1995, Major League Soccer is the premier soccer league in the United States. As of its current 2020 season, MLS has 26 clubs (23 from the U.S. and 3 from Canada). The league plans to expand to 28 teams in 2021 with further plans to expand to 30 teams by 2022. The 34-game schedule runs from mid-March to late October, with the playoffs and championship in November.
The United States men’s national team and women’s national team, Along with some national youth teams, represent the United States in international soccer competitions and are governed by the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer). The U.S. women’s team holds the record for most Women’s World Cup championships. They are the only team to have never finished worse than third place in a World Cup. The U.S. women beat the Netherlands 2–0 in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final to claim their second consecutive Women’s World Cup title, and fourth overall.
A plethora of global football superstars have ended their career in the US club football including Pelé, Eusébio, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Lothar Matthäus, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kaká, David Villa, Wayne Rooney, and Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Volleyball is another such sports in the USA which has a vast fan following. Its fan following is largely among the school and college level as a lot of children take up Volleyball while they are in student life.
As a professional sport, volleyball has had limited success in the United States. International Volleyball Association was a co-ed professional league that existed from 1975 to 1980. Major League Volleyball was a women’s league with six teams that played for two-and-a-half seasons from 1987 to 1989 with games shown on ESPN on tape delay; it folded mid-season in 1989, however, due to financial losses.
In 2002, United States Professional Volleyball League was begun as a women’s professional indoor league but only lasted one season. As of 2019, there are currently two leagues that branch across the United States. First of these is the National Volleyball Association (NVA). The NVA currently has 8 teams. The second league is the Volleyball League Of America (VLA) and has 5 teams spread across the United States.
Cricket used to be the most popular sport in America during the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s, with a USA v. Canada cricket match in the 1840s being the oldest international sporting event in the modern world. Cricket in the USA is relatively less popular than other team sports in the USA as Baseball covers a vast variety of audience. However, there is more than that which has prevented the growth of Cricket in the USA. USA does not fall into the commonwealth nations and is neither a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
In 1909 when the ICC was originally organized as the Imperial Cricket Conference it was open only to Commonwealth nations and thereby excluded the US from participating in the sport at the highest level.
However, in recent years, Cricket has emerged as a widely popular team sport in the USA. In 2006 it was estimated that 30,000 people in the United States play or watch cricket annually. By 2017, this figure had risen to 200,000 people playing cricket in 6,000 teams. With the launching of the United States Youth Cricket Association in 2010, a more focused effort to bring the game to American schools was begun, with the intention of broadening cricket’s fan base beyond expatriates and their children.
College Sports In The USA
College athletics in the United States or college sports in the USA refers primarily to sports and athletic competition organized and funded by institutions of tertiary education (universities, or colleges in American English). The major sanctioning organizations include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
The most practised college sports in the USA, measured by NCAA reporting on varsity team participation are, Football, Baseball/Softball, Track and Field, Soccer, Basketball, Cross-country running, and Swimming/Diving.
High School Sports In The USA
Most public high schools are members of their respective state athletic association, and those associations are members of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Some states have separate associations for public and non-public high schools.
Popular high school sports in the USA include the Texas High School football championships, the Indiana basketball championships, and ice hockey in Minnesota.
Individual Sports In The USA
The United States has had a glorious record in Tennis since they started participating in this sport. In the United States, Tennis in all five categories (Men’s and Ladies’ Singles; Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed Doubles); however, the most popular are the singles.
The first tennis clubs formed in the United States were in the 1880s. The United States Tennis Association is the governing body for tennis in the United States. The organization’s original name was the National Lawn Tennis Association this was changed to its current name in 1975. The US Open, which is among one of the four grand slams, is the summit of the sports in the USA. It is played in late August at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
The most notable players of Tennis in the USA have been Don Budge, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Ricardo Alonso González dominating their sports in the USA in the past. Recently, the Williams sisters, Venus William and Serena Williams have ruled Women’s Tennis in the world.
Golf is the 7th most popular sports in the USA. It is also the 8th most popular sport in the world. Golf is played in the United States by about 25 million people. The United States Golf Association (USGA) is the premier body that governs sports in the USA.
The USGA conducts four national championships open to professionals, the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, with the last of these holding its first edition in 2018. The PGA of America organizes the PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and Women’s PGA Championship. Three legs of the Grand Slam of Golf are based in the United States: the PGA Championship, U.S. Open and The Masters. (The Open Championship, known in the U.S. as the British Open, is played in the United Kingdom.) Notable American male golfers include Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods.
Combat Sports in the USA
Pro-wrestling is the next most popular sports in the USA. The wrestling organized under World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is highly followed by American people. WWE’s origins can be traced back as far as the 1950s when on January 7, 1953, the first show under the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC) was produced. In 1980, Vincent K. McMahon, and his wife Linda, established Titan Sports, Inc. On May 6, 1998, Titan Sports, Inc. was renamed World Wrestling Federation, Inc. It was renamed World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. a year later.
Most notable stars of the WWE have been Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Triple H, The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Big Show, Steve Austin, Mark Henry, Rey Mysterio, The Great Khali, Alberto Delrio, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Roman Reigns, and John Cena among many other illustrious names in the history of the competition.
Boxing‘s origins began in the United States in the 19th century. The United States became the centre of professional boxing in the early 20th century. Boxing in the United States emerged from England in the late 1700s and took root in the 1800s mainly in large urban areas such as Boston, New York City, and New Orleans. The National Boxing Association was founded in 1921 and began to sanction title fights. The National Boxing Association changed its name in 1962 and became the World Boxing Association. The new organization brought about an increased global role.
John L. Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Joe Louis, and Floyd Mayweather are the most illustrious names among many other who have taken up professional boxing in the USA. It is among the most popular sports in the USA.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the fastest-growing sport in the United States. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is the largest MMA promotion company in the world and features some of the highest-level fighters in the sport on its roster.
The earliest example of MMA in America was introduced in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1979. The sport was initially criticized for being too violent and brutal. The sport of mixed martial arts was banned in 1997 in New York. On March 22, 2016, the New York State Assembly voted to lift the State’s 1997 ban on MMA and on April 14, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill legalizing and regulating the sport into law.
Motorsports In The USA
Motor Sports including auto-car and motorcycle racing, is the 9th sport in the list of most-watched sports in the USA. NASCAR is the biggest organization in the USA, which organizes races in America
The IndyCar Series, currently known as the NTT IndyCar Series under sponsorship, is the premier level of open-wheel racing in North America. Its parent company began in 1996 as the Indy Racing League (IRL), which was created by then Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George as a competitor to CART. In 2008, the IndyCar Series merged with CART’s successor, the Champ Car World Series. The series is self-sanctioned by its parent company, INDYCAR LLC. The series’ premier event is the Indianapolis 500.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock-car racing. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1948, and his son, Jim France, has been the CEO since August 6, 2018.
Each year, NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 48 US states as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. NASCAR’s popular former drivers are Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Richard Petty.
Among NASCAR’s popular active drivers are Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Larson. NASCAR’s most popular race is the Daytona 500, the opening race of the season, held each year at Daytona Beach, Florida in February.
Track And Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the United States national governing body for the sports of track and field, cross country running, road running and race walking. The USATF was known between 1979 and 1992 as The Athletics Congress (TAC). Jesse Owens is one of the most notable US athletes. Tyson Gay and Michael Johnson hold various sprint records for male athletes.
Swimming and water sports
Swimming in the United States began competitively in the 1880s. The first nationally recognized swimming organization was the Amateur Athletic Union in 1888. In the 1920s and 1930s, public swimming pools became more accessible to the general public.
The United States is the dominant force in international competitive swimming. American swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, with 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold.
Most Popular Sports In The USA
- American Football (NFL)
- Baseball (MLB)
- Basketball (NBA)
- Ice Hockey (NHL)
- Soccer (MLS)
- Wrestling (WWE)
- Motor Sports
- Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Elite Training Centers in the USA
- S. Olympic Training Centers
- Native American Recreation & Sport Institute
- The National Institute for Fitness and Sport
Sporting Stadiums in the USA
- Beaver StadiumState College, Pennsylvania
- Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
- Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee
- Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Sports Governing Bodies In The USA
- USA Boxing (USAB)
- USA Basketball (USAB)
- USA Cycling (USAC)
- United States of America Cricket Association (USACA)
- USA Football (USAF)
- USA Baseball (USAB)
- USA Hockey (USAH)
- USA Rugby (USAR)
- USA Table Tennis (USATT)
- USA Team Handball (USATH)
- USA Track & Field (USATF)
- USA Volleyball (USAV)
- United States Aquatic Sports (USAS)
- United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBFS)
- United States Golf Association (USGA)
- United States Snooker Association (USSA)
- United States Soccer Federation (USSF)
- United States Tennis Association (USTA)