Exploring the Top Five Popular Sports in the United States


It’s no secret that North America, the U.S. in particular, loves sports. The North American sports industry will be worth an estimate of $74 million by next year. However, while the U.S. could easily be described as a nation of sports fans, it may be surprising to some that the U.S. shares some of its favorite sports with fans around the world. Come along to explore the five largest sports in the U.S.: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer.


American football is easily the darling of U.S. sports. 37% of adults say that football is their favorite sport to watch, by far the most for any sport. In contrast, baseball is at an all-time low with a loyal following of only 9% of U.S. adults. However, as soon as the NFL season ends, many football fans are forced to find a new sport to follow or wait until football season comes again. Passionate football fans may enjoy rugby with its slight similarities to American football. Though the Rugby World Cup falls during the football season, it ends just before the Super Bowl gets underway, providing a perfect balance for American football. U.S. adults may find rugby just as exhilarating as American football; the highest-scoring Rugby World Cup game was in 1995 when New Zealand scored 162 to 17 points against Japan. Now that’s a point margin!


When you think of sports travel, you probably don’t think of trotting around the globe for a basketball game. However, basketball has a world cup competition every four years; the latest championship was finished this year, neatly before the 2020 Olympics. It may even surprise you that Spain was the 2019 champion. For as much as the U.S. loves its sports, it doesn’t have equal representation across the country for each sport. Only five U.S. cities support all four major sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL): Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. True basketball fans would benefit from traveling to the next FIBA World Cup, much like traveling for FIFA or the rugby world cup to experience basketball excellence for themselves.


Often called America’s pastime, baseball is gaining popularity around the world, even though it is not the first choice of sport to watch in the U.S. According to Top End Sports, while the top five countries in which baseball is most popular are in or around North America, baseball is gaining worldwide popularity. If you love baseball and you love to travel, you can bet on finding a pickup game almost anywhere in the world.


While immensely popular in colder nations like Sweden and Canada, the U.S. is quickly becoming one of the most influential hockey countries on a global scale. Eight U.S. cities have all four major sports, including the NHL, within the metro city area: Phoenix, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Miami, Dallas, Boston, New York City, and Minneapolis. Some of those cities may look rather strange as places for hockey to flourish, but that just goes to show how popular hockey is becoming the U.S. A whopping 4.9 million viewers tuned in to watch Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup!


Most often called football around the world, soccer has been gaining ground steadily in the U.S. for many years. It is uniquely the only sport out of the top five that supports women teams as much as male teams. The FIFA Women’s World Cup has been held every four years since 1991 when the inaugural tournament was held in China and the United States beat Norway. While women are prevalent in some of the other popular U.S. sports like golf and tennis, soccer is the only equal-opportunity global sport, though the Women’s Rugby World Cup also began in 1991 and is starting to catch up to the big players.

Sports fans in the United States and those on a sports tour to the U.S. will experience no lack of sporting opportunities. Book your travel adventure today!

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