The United States has a very rich sporting culture, with a wide range of sports widely followed in the country.

Traditional US sports like baseball, American football, and basketball are naturally the biggest draws in the country, but more international sports like soccer, tennis, and golf also have a decent following in the American market.

In this article, we discuss the most popular sports in the US.

American Football

Standing proud at No. 1 is American Football, with almost three-quarters of the population following the sport.

The National Football League (NFL) is the highest level of American Football. It is also the richest sports league in the world, fending off competition from the MLB, NBA, NHL, and the English Premier League.

The Super Bowl, the NFL's showpiece event, has perennially been the most-watched sporting event in the United States and commands the largest sponsorship fees on US television.

The NFL attracts sponsorship from far and wide, from financial organizations to betting companies.

Partnerships with betting companies have become particularly trendy, with the sportsbooks aiming to use the huge followership of the sport to push their promotions for the NFL.

The popularity of the Super Bowl goes beyond the sporting landscape. Quite simply, it has consistently been the most-watched event of any kind on American TV, with the average annual viewership in the last few years crossing over 100 million.


Basketball is popular in many countries around the world, but there can be no arguments about the headquarters of the sport - the United States.

The NBA is by far the most popular basketball league in the US, and by extension, in the world, boasting some of the richest, most successful, and widely followed teams in global sports.

The NBA has featured some of the most iconic sportsmen of all time, including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabber, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James—the list is almost endless.

Basketball in the US extends well beyond the NBA. It is hugely popular at high school and college levels, with college basketball often serving as a pathway to NBA superstardom.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are the most successful NBA teams, but all NBA franchises are religiously followed by their fans.


Baseball is widely regarded as America's favorite pastime and the father of American sports.

Indeed, Major League Baseball, the highest level of the game in the US, is the oldest major professional sports league in the country.

The MLB was birthed in 1903 when the National League and the American League merged into one body.

While the MLB has dipped below the NBA in popularity in recent years, it still has eye-popping viewership numbers, with the 2022 World Series averaging over 12 million viewers across the FOX Sports network!

The New York Yankees are the most successful MLB team, while other top franchises include the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.


Boxing? Yes, boxing! You would expect America's Big 4 to occupy the top 4 positions, but alas, that is not the case.

Gatecrashing the party is the pugilistic trade of boxing.

When you think of the storied history of boxing in the US, the unending list of high-profile heavyweight champions, and the glamorous fights, you begin to come to terms with why boxing is this high up on the list.

From George Foreman to Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, boxing has been a huge deal in the United States for a very long time.

Also, think of the great boxing arenas like Madison Square Garden, the trash-talking and razzmatazz (which always appeals to Americans!), and the insane amounts of money in the sport. Now it makes sense, doesn't it?

Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey is more popular up north in Canada than it is in the US, but it is still one of the biggest sports in America.

The US is also the base for the world's most significant Ice Hockey League, the NHL, even though the most successful team in the competition, the Montreal Canadiens, is based in Canada!

Interestingly, the NHL was also founded in Montreal in 1917, but it has had its headquarters in New York since 1989.

Along with the NFL, NBA, and MLB, the NHL is amongst the Big 4 of Professional American team sports.

Indeed, those four leagues are amongst the top-5 richest leagues in the world, with the NHL coming in at No. 4. The only outsider in that top five is the English Premier League.

Top American NHL teams include the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.


Football, as it is called in many other parts of the world, is the biggest sport in the globe, but Americans are having none of that. 

Soccer has made big strides in the US in recent times, with the World Cup held in the country in 1994, and the tournament set to return to North America in 2026, but it still has some catching up to do.

The creation of the MLS has certainly helped, with players like David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing big roles in boosting the popularity of the round-leather game.

The MLS continues to bring in global superstars, the latest of whom is Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest human to ever kick a football.

Soccer's stock continues to rise, but at the moment, it hasn't risen high enough to break into the top order of America's sporting landscape.


With three of Golf's four majors staged in the United States, it is safe to conclude that the US is the home of international golf.

Also, the Professional Golfers Association Tour, more popularly known as the PGA Tour is based in the United States.

Golf is generally seen as a rich man's sport, but with about 30 million Americans estimated to play the sport either professionally or as recreation, it's definitely much more than just a sport for the elite.

America has produced some of the finest golfers in history, including Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods - the two biggest names in the sport's storied history.


With increased marketing and television coverage, MMA has become hugely popular across the world - and the United States is no exception.

Americans have always loved their combat sports - think of boxing and the WWE - and now MMA is the rave of the moment. It is widely considered the fastest-growing sport in the country.

Las Vegas-based promotional outfit, Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC), is arguably the most recognizable MMA organization in the world.

Apart from the UFC, the US is also home to many other top MMA leagues, including the Professional Fighters League in Washington, the Cage Fury Fighting Championship in New Jersey, and the King of the Cage in Southern California.


America has a rich tennis history, with iconic players like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Serena Williams all hailing from the States.

There are several tennis tournaments held in the US, the most prestigious of which is the US Open. 

Staged at Flushing Meadows in New York, the tournament is one of four majors on the tennis calendar. It joins the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon as the biggest meets in the tennis season.

Away from the US Open, America also hosts big tennis tournaments in California, Miami, and Cincinnati.


If you live outside the US and you hear of motorsports, you are probably thinking of Formula 1 and Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton and things like that.

Motor Sports is seen on a much broader scale in the United States.

Americans have their own local racing events, with the most popular being the IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Cup Series.

These meets often attract millions of spectators across the different racetracks.

It is not that Americans don't like their F1. Of course, they do. The US currently has two races on the F1 calendar—the Miami Grand Prix and the United States Grand Prix in Texas—with both boasting impressive attendance year in and year out.


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