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Sports in the United States are an important part of American culture. American football is the most popular sport in the United States followed by basketball, baseball, and soccer.

All four enjoy wide-ranging domestic media coverage and are considered the preeminent leagues in their respective sports in the world, although American football does not have a substantial following in other nations.

Three of those leagues have teams that represent Canadian cities, and all four are the most financially lucrative sports leagues of their sport.

Professional teams in all major sports in the United States operate as franchises within a league, meaning that a team may move to a different city if the team's owners believe there would be a financial benefit, but franchise moves are usually subject to some form of league-level approval.

All major sports leagues use a similar type of regular-season schedule with a playoff tournament after the regular season ends.

In addition to the major league—level organizations, several sports also have professional minor leagues , active in smaller cities across the country.

As in Canada and Australia , sports leagues in the United States do not practice promotion and relegation , unlike many sports leagues in Europe.

Sports are particularly associated with education in the United States , with most high schools and universities having organized sports, and this is a unique sporting footprint for the U.

College sports competitions play an important role in the American sporting culture, and college basketball and college football are as popular as professional sports in some parts of the country.

Unlike most other nations, the United States government does not provide funding for sports nor for the United States Olympic Committee.

The history of sports in the United States shows that most sports evolved out of European practices. However, basketball , volleyball , skateboarding , and snowboarding are American inventions, some of which have become popular in other countries and worldwide.

Lacrosse and surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact. In Chesapeake society that is, colonial Virginia and Maryland , sports occupied a great deal of attention at every social level, starting at the top.

In England, hunting was severely restricted to landowners. In America, game was more than plentiful. Everyone—including servants and slaves—could and did hunt, so there was no social distinction to be had.

Horse racing remained the leading sport in the era, especially in the South. However, religious evangelists were troubled by the gambling dimension, and democratic elements complained that it was too aristocratic, since only the rich could own very expensive competitive horses.

American swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, with 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold.

The United States has sent athletes to every celebration of the modern Olympic Games except the Summer Olympics hosted by the Soviet Union in Moscow, which it boycotted because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The United States has won gold at every games 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 only Norway.

However, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union , it now primarily contends with China and Great Britain at the Summer Games for both the overall medal count and the gold medal count and with Norway and Canada at the Winter Games for the overall medal count.

The United States hosted both Summer and Winter Games in , and has hosted more Games than any other country — eight times, four times each for the Summer and Winter Games:.

Los Angeles will host the Summer Olympics for a third time in , marking the ninth time the U. Motor sports are widely popular in the United States but Americans generally show little interest in the major international competitions, such as the Formula One Grand Prix series and MotoGP , preferring home-grown racing series.

However, some Americans have achieved great success in these international series, such as Mario Andretti and Kenny Roberts. Americans, like the rest of the world, initially began using public streets to host automobile races, but these venues were often unsafe to the public as they offered relatively little crowd control.

Promoters and drivers in the United States discovered that horse racing tracks could provide better conditions for drivers and spectators than public streets.

The result has been a long-standing popularity of oval track racing , which is not used in the rest of the world, while road racing has generally waned.

However, an extensive though illegal street racing culture still persists. Historically, open wheel racing was the most popular form of U. From that point on, the popularity of open wheel racing in the U.

However, as a result, the only post-Split IndyCar race that still enjoys widespread popularity among the general public is the Indianapolis NASCAR's audience peaked in the mid 's, and has declined quite a bit ever since the implementation of the Chase for the Cup in , though it continues to have around 2—4 million viewers per race.

Another one of the most popular forms of motorsports in the United States is the indigenous sport of drag racing.

The largest drag racing organization is the National Hot Rod Association. Several other motorsports enjoy varying degrees of popularity in the United States: Golf is played in the United States by about 25 million people.

The USGA conducts four national championships open to professionals: Women's Open , U. Senior Open , and the U. Senior Women's Open , with the last of these holding its first edition in Open and The Masters.

The Open Championship , known in the U. More recently, the Williams sisters, Venus Williams 7 major singles titles and Serena Williams 23 major singles titles , have been a dominant force in the women's game, and the twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan have claimed almost all significant career records for men's doubles teams.

Americans have frequently set world standards in various disciplines of track and field for both male and female athletes.

Tyson Gay and Michael Johnson hold various sprint records for male athletes, while Florence Griffith Joyner set various world sprint records for female athletes.

Mary Slaney set many world records for middle-distance disciplines. A turning point occurred in US track in the running boom of the s. High school track in the United States became a unique foundation for creating the United States middle-distance running talent pool, and from to an average of 13 high school boys in the United States would run under 4: The number of high school boys running the mile under 4: Carl Lewis is credited with "normalizing" the practice of having a lengthy track career as opposed to retiring once reaching the age when it is less realistic of gaining a personal best result.

The United States is home to school-sponsored track and field, a tradition in which most schools from middle school through college feature a track and field team.

Due to the amount of American athletes who satisfy Olympic norm standards, the US holds national trials to select the best of its top-tier athletes for Olympic competition.

Boxing in the United States became the center of professional boxing in the early 20th century. In the s and s, Muhammad Ali became an iconic figure, transformed the role and image of the African American athlete in America by his embrace of racial pride, and transcended the sport by refusing to serve in the Vietnam War.

In the s and s, major boxers such as Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe were marked by crime and self-destruction. Mixed martial arts in the United States developed in the s, and has achieved popularity in the early 21st century.

Many companies promote MMA cards, with the U. Traditional wrestling is performed at the scholastic level; high school wrestling is one of the most popular participatory sports for young men in the United States, and college wrestling has a small following.

Professional wrestling , which evolved into a mostly scripted kayfabe form of sports entertainment over the course of the 20th century, enjoys widespread popularity as a spectator sport.

Interest in pro wrestling peaked during the Monday Night Wars of the s and s. This was due to the competition between the World Wrestling Federation WWF and WCW , which were the two biggest professional wrestling organizations in the country during the last two decades of the 20th century.

It is also stated that, between the two companies, an estimated 16 million viewers tuned in every week.

Following the conclusion of the Wars and WCW's subsumption into WWF to become the modern WWE , professional wrestling's audience has diminished; however, it still pulls in some of cable television's highest weekly ratings.

WWE remains the dominant professional wrestling company in the U. Judo in the United States is not very popular and is eclipsed by more popular martial arts like karate and taekwondo.

Swimming is a major competitive sport at high school and college level, but receives little mainstream media attention outside of the Olympics.

Surfing in the United States and watersports are popular in the U. California and Hawaii are the most popular locations for surfing. The Association of Surfing Professionals was founded in All five of these team sports are popular with fans, are widely watched on television, have a fully professional league , are played by millions of Americans, enjoy varsity status at many Division I colleges , and are played in high schools throughout the country.

Football, known as American football outside the United States, has the most participants of any sport at both high school and college levels, the vast majority of its participants being male.

The NFL has 32 franchises divided into two conferences. After a game regular season, each conference sends six teams to the NFL Playoffs , which eventually culminate in the league's championship game, the Super Bowl.

Nationwide, the NFL obtains the highest television ratings among major sports. Watching NFL games on television on Sunday afternoons has become a common routine for many Americans during the football season.

Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest annual sporting event held in the United States. The Super Bowl itself is always among the highest-rated programs of all-time in the Nielsen ratings.

Millions watch college football throughout the fall months, and some communities, particularly in rural areas, place great emphasis on their local high school football teams.

The popularity of college and high school football in areas such as the Southern United States Southeastern Conference and the Great Plains Big 12 Conference and Big Ten Conference stems largely from the fact that these areas historically generally did not possess markets large enough for a professional team.

During football season in the fall, fans have the opportunity to watch high school games on Fridays and Saturdays, college football on Saturdays, and NFL games on Sundays, the usual playing day of the professional teams.

However, some colleges play games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, while the NFL offers weekly games on Monday since and Thursday since As recently as , one could find a nationally televised professional or college game on television any night between Labor Day and Thanksgiving weekend.

Indoor American football or arena football , a form of football played in indoor arenas, has several professional and semi-professional leagues.

The Arena Football League was active from to and folded in , but several teams from the AFL and its former minor league, af2 , relaunched the league in Most other extant indoor leagues date to the mids and are regional in nature.

Women's American football is seldom seen. A few amateur and semi-professional leagues exist, of varying degrees of stability and competition.

Football is unique among scholastic sports in the U. Baseball and a variant, softball , are popular participatory sports in the U.

The highest level of baseball in the U. 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.

The New York Yankees are noted for having won more titles than any other US major professional sports franchise. Chicago sports fans also avidly follow the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox despite the comparative lack of success for the teams, with Chicago Cub fans being known throughout the country for their passionate loyalty to the team despite their not having won a championship from to Historically, the leagues were much more competitive, and cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and St.

Louis had rival teams in both leagues up until the s. An extensive minor league baseball system covers most mid-sized cities in the United States.

Minor league baseball teams are organized in a six-tier hierarchy, in which the highest teams AAA are in major cities that do not have a major league team but often have a major team in another sport, and each level occupies progressively smaller cities.

The lowest levels of professional baseball serve primarily as development systems for the sport's most inexperienced prospects, with the absolute bottom, the rookie leagues, occupying the major league squads' spring training complexes.

Some limited independent professional baseball exists, the most prominent being the Atlantic League , which occupies mostly suburban locales that are not eligible for high level minor league teams of their own because they are too close to other major or minor league teams.

Outside the minor leagues are collegiate summer baseball leagues, which occupy towns even smaller than those at the lower end of minor league baseball and typically cannot support professional sports.

Summer baseball is an amateur exercise and uses players that choose not to play for payment in order to remain eligible to play college baseball for their respective universities in the spring.

At the absolute lowest end of the organized baseball system is senior amateur baseball also known as Town Team Baseball , which typically plays its games only on weekends and uses rosters composed of local residents.

Of those Americans citing their favorite sport, basketball is ranked second counting amateur levels behind American football.

Basketball was invented in by Canadian physical education teacher James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. 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. After the regular season, eight teams from each conference compete in the playoffs for the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

Since the Summer Olympics , NBA players have represented the United States in international competition and won numerous important tournaments. The Dream Team was the unofficial nickname of the United States men's basketball team that won the gold medal at the Olympics.

Basketball at both the college and high school levels is popular throughout the country. Every March, a team, six-round, single-elimination tournament commonly called March Madness determines the national champions of NCAA Division I men's college basketball.

Many high school basketball teams have intense local followings, especially in the Midwest and Upper South. Ever since the s, an increasing number of players born outside the United States have signed with NBA teams, sparking league interest in different parts of the world.

Professional basketball is most followed in cities where there are no other sports teams in the four major professional leagues, such as in the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder , [32] the Sacramento Kings , the San Antonio Spurs , the Memphis Grizzlies , or the Portland Trail Blazers.

New York City has also had a long historical connection with college and professional basketball, and many basketball legends initially developed their reputations playing in the many playgrounds throughout the city.

Minor league basketball, both official and unofficial, has an extensive presence, given the sport's relative lack of expense to operate a professional team.

The most prominent independent league is BIG3 , a three-on-three league featuring former NBA stars that launched in Several other pro basketball leagues exist but are notorious for their instability and low budget operations.

The WNBA is the premier women's basketball league in the United States as well as the most stable and sustained women's professional sports league in the nation.

Several of the 12 teams are owned by NBA teams. Ice hockey , usually referred to in the U. However, since the s, hockey has become increasingly popular in the Sun Belt due in large part to the expansion of the National Hockey League to the southern U.

Minor league professional hockey leagues in the U. College hockey has a regional following in the northeastern and upper midwestern United States.

It is increasingly being used to develop players for the NHL and other professional leagues the U.

The Frozen Four is college hockey's national championship. Internationally, the United States is counted among the Big Six , the group of nations that have historically dominated international ice hockey competition.

One of the nation's greatest ever sporting moments was the " Miracle on Ice ", [ citation needed ] which came during the Winter Olympics when the U.

Historically, the vast majority of NHL players had come from Canada, with a small number of Americans. As late as —70, Canadian players made up 95 percent of the league.

For a more complete discussion, see Origin of NHL players. The National Women's Hockey League , founded in , is the first women's ice hockey league in the country to pay its players and features five teams in the northeast and upper midwest.

At the international level, the United States women's national ice hockey team is one of the two predominant international women's teams in the world, alongside its longtime rival Team Canada.

Soccer has been increasing in popularity in the United States in recent years. Soccer is played by over 13 million people in the U.

Most NCAA Division I colleges field both a men's and women's varsity soccer team, and those that field only one team almost invariably field a women's team.

The United States men's national team and women's national team , as well as a number of national youth teams, represent the United States in international soccer competitions and are governed by the United States Soccer Federation U.

Major League Soccer is the premier soccer league in the United States. MLS has 23 clubs 20 from the U. The game schedule runs from mid-March to late October, with the playoffs and championship in November.

Soccer-specific stadiums continue to be built for MLS teams around the country, both because American football stadiums are considered to have excessive capacity, and because teams profit from operating their stadiums.

Other professional men's soccer leagues in the U. Younger generations of Americans have strong fan appreciation for the sport, due to factors such as the U.

Many immigrants living in the United States continue to follow soccer as their favorite team sport. Women's professional soccer in the United States has not seen sustained success.

Following the demise of two professional leagues in the early 21st century, the Women's United Soccer Association — and Women's Professional Soccer — , U.

Soccer established a new National Women's Soccer League in The NWSL has now survived longer than either of its two professional predecessors, and five of its current nine teams are owned by professional men's clubs four in MLS and one in the USL.

However, at the lower levels of the salary scale, the NWSL is effectively semi-professional. Many notable international soccer players played in the U.

The best American soccer players enter the U. Soccer Hall of Fame. The following table shows additional sports that are played by over , people in the United States.

Lacrosse is a team sport that is believed to have originated with the Iroquois and the Lenape. Lacrosse is most popular in the East Coast area.

The National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse are the national box and outdoor lacrosse leagues, respectively, with both leagues operating on a semi-professional level.

Volleyball is also a notable sport in the United States, especially at the college and university levels. Unlike most Olympic sports which are sponsored widely at the collegiate level for both sexes, the support for college volleyball is dramatically skewed in favor of the women's game.

In the —12 school year, over schools in NCAA Division I alone the highest of three NCAA tiers sponsored women's volleyball at the varsity level, [43] while fewer than schools in all three NCAA divisions combined sponsored varsity men's volleyball, with only 23 of them in Division I.

Beach volleyball has increasingly become popular in the United States, in part due to media exposure during the Olympic Games.

Rugby union is played professionally, recreationally and in colleges, though it is not governed by the NCAA see college rugby. In rugby sevens , the men's national team is one of 15 "core teams" that participate in every event of the annual World Rugby Sevens Series , and the women's national team is one of 11 core teams in the Women's Sevens Series.

The professional domestic club competition PRO Rugby began play in April , [45] but lasted only one season; a second attempt at a professional league, Major League Rugby , launched in Rugby union participation in the U.

Rugby football formed the basis of modern American football ; the two sports were nearly identical in the late 19th century but diverged into distinct, incompatible codes by the start of the 20th century.

In it was estimated that 30, people in the United States play or watch cricket annually. One reason was the 19th-century-rise of the summer time bat and ball sport now called baseball, which seems to have displaced cricket as a popular pastime.

Nevertheless, in the US was admitted to the renamed ICC as an associate member and the sport grew in popularity in the second half of the 20th century.

An oft mentioned reason for the growing popularity of cricket is the growing population of immigrants to the US who come from cricket playing nations.

With the launching of the United States Youth Cricket Association in , 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.

Ultimate is a team sport played with a flying disc. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to members of your own team until you have completed a pass to a team member in the opposing teams end zone.

Alternative sports, using the flying disc, began in the mid-sixties, when numbers of young people looked for alternative recreational activities, including throwing a Frisbee.

Disc sports such as disc freestyle , disc dog with a human handler throwing discs for a dog to catch , double disc court , disc guts , disc ultimate , and disc golf became this sport's first events.

Disc guts was invented in the s and developed at the International Frisbee Tournament. Ultimate , the most widely played disc sport, began in the late s.

In the s it developed as an organized sport with the creation of the Ultimate Players Association. Double disc court was invented and introduced in the early s.

In , disc freestyle competition was created. Beginning in , the International Frisbee Association became the regulatory organization for all of these sports.

Disc sports includes both ultimate and disc golf. Ultimate has added the American Ultimate Disc League , which began play in However, the league is still competing at a lower level than club teams established across the U.

The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing. Australian rules football in the United States was first played in the country in S, with various clubs and leagues around the country.

The National Championships are held annually. The United States men's national Australian rules football team and the women's national team both regularly play international matches, and play in the Australian Football International Cup , an international tournament.

The sport also benefits from an active fan based organization, the Australian Football Association of North America.

Bandy is only played in Minnesota. In terms of licensed athletes, it is the second biggest winter sport in the world. Cricket in the United States is not a popular sport, but has a niche market with limited inroads, mainly in immigrant communities.

Historically, cricket used to be the most popular sport in America during the 18th and early 19th centuries, [ citation needed ] but declined as baseball overtook cricket.

The first intercollegiate tournament in America was the first annual Canada vs. Curling is popular in northern states, [ citation needed ] possibly because of climate, proximity to Canada, or Scandinavian heritage.

The national popularity of curling is growing after significant media coverage of the sport in the and Winter Olympics. They do not have a high profile, but are developing sports, with New York fielding a representative team in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Field hockey is played in the United States predominantly by women. It is played widely at numerous NCAA colleges, where it is used as a sport to offset Title IX regulations assuring equal opportunities for men and women in sports it thus offsets male-dominated sports such as college football.

Handball , a common sport in European countries, is seldom seen in the United States. The sport is mostly played in the country on the amateur level.

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Please give an overall site rating: Many notable international soccer players played in the U. The best American soccer players enter the U.

Soccer Hall of Fame. The following table shows additional sports that are played by over , people in the United States. Lacrosse is a team sport that is believed to have originated with the Iroquois and the Lenape.

Lacrosse is most popular in the East Coast area. The National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse are the national box and outdoor lacrosse leagues, respectively, with both leagues operating on a semi-professional level.

Volleyball is also a notable sport in the United States, especially at the college and university levels. Unlike most Olympic sports which are sponsored widely at the collegiate level for both sexes, the support for college volleyball is dramatically skewed in favor of the women's game.

In the —12 school year, over schools in NCAA Division I alone the highest of three NCAA tiers sponsored women's volleyball at the varsity level, [43] while fewer than schools in all three NCAA divisions combined sponsored varsity men's volleyball, with only 23 of them in Division I.

Beach volleyball has increasingly become popular in the United States, in part due to media exposure during the Olympic Games.

Rugby union is played professionally, recreationally and in colleges, though it is not governed by the NCAA see college rugby. In rugby sevens , the men's national team is one of 15 "core teams" that participate in every event of the annual World Rugby Sevens Series , and the women's national team is one of 11 core teams in the Women's Sevens Series.

The professional domestic club competition PRO Rugby began play in April , [45] but lasted only one season; a second attempt at a professional league, Major League Rugby , launched in Rugby union participation in the U.

Rugby football formed the basis of modern American football ; the two sports were nearly identical in the late 19th century but diverged into distinct, incompatible codes by the start of the 20th century.

In it was estimated that 30, people in the United States play or watch cricket annually. One reason was the 19th-century-rise of the summer time bat and ball sport now called baseball, which seems to have displaced cricket as a popular pastime.

Nevertheless, in the US was admitted to the renamed ICC as an associate member and the sport grew in popularity in the second half of the 20th century.

An oft mentioned reason for the growing popularity of cricket is the growing population of immigrants to the US who come from cricket playing nations.

With the launching of the United States Youth Cricket Association in , 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.

Ultimate is a team sport played with a flying disc. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to members of your own team until you have completed a pass to a team member in the opposing teams end zone.

Alternative sports, using the flying disc, began in the mid-sixties, when numbers of young people looked for alternative recreational activities, including throwing a Frisbee.

Disc sports such as disc freestyle , disc dog with a human handler throwing discs for a dog to catch , double disc court , disc guts , disc ultimate , and disc golf became this sport's first events.

Disc guts was invented in the s and developed at the International Frisbee Tournament. Ultimate , the most widely played disc sport, began in the late s.

In the s it developed as an organized sport with the creation of the Ultimate Players Association. Double disc court was invented and introduced in the early s.

In , disc freestyle competition was created. Beginning in , the International Frisbee Association became the regulatory organization for all of these sports.

Disc sports includes both ultimate and disc golf. Ultimate has added the American Ultimate Disc League , which began play in However, the league is still competing at a lower level than club teams established across the U.

The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing. Australian rules football in the United States was first played in the country in S, with various clubs and leagues around the country.

The National Championships are held annually. The United States men's national Australian rules football team and the women's national team both regularly play international matches, and play in the Australian Football International Cup , an international tournament.

The sport also benefits from an active fan based organization, the Australian Football Association of North America.

Bandy is only played in Minnesota. In terms of licensed athletes, it is the second biggest winter sport in the world. Cricket in the United States is not a popular sport, but has a niche market with limited inroads, mainly in immigrant communities.

Historically, cricket used to be the most popular sport in America during the 18th and early 19th centuries, [ citation needed ] but declined as baseball overtook cricket.

The first intercollegiate tournament in America was the first annual Canada vs. Curling is popular in northern states, [ citation needed ] possibly because of climate, proximity to Canada, or Scandinavian heritage.

The national popularity of curling is growing after significant media coverage of the sport in the and Winter Olympics. They do not have a high profile, but are developing sports, with New York fielding a representative team in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Field hockey is played in the United States predominantly by women. It is played widely at numerous NCAA colleges, where it is used as a sport to offset Title IX regulations assuring equal opportunities for men and women in sports it thus offsets male-dominated sports such as college football.

Handball , a common sport in European countries, is seldom seen in the United States. The sport is mostly played in the country on the amateur level.

Handball is played in the Summer Olympics , but is not sanctioned by the NCAA; all college and university teams play as club teams.

Inline hockey was invented by Americans as a way to play the sport in all climates. The PIHA is the league with the largest number of professional teams in the nation.

Street hockey is a non-standard version of inline hockey played by amateurs in informal games. The United States national rugby league team played in their first World Cup in losing to Australia in the quarter finals 62—0.

Water polo does not have a professional competition in the U. The NCAA sanctions water polo as a varsity sport for both men and women, but sport is not popular in the U.

Angleball is a sport developed as a way to maintain physical fitness. Angleball gameplay is simple. Two large balls are placed atop standards at opposite sides of a field.

Teams pass a smaller ball back and forth, attempting to knock the other team's ball off its perch with the smaller ball.

Badminton has also become a popular backyard sport in the United States. Capture the flag is played recreationally by adults and children.

Dodgeball is played traditionally by children in school, though adult leagues in urban areas have formed within the past 10 years.

A caricatured version was portrayed in the film comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Kickball is also played recreationally by adults and children, especially at the elementary school level.

Its rules are largely identical to baseball, except that no bat is used and instead a large rubber ball is rolled along the ground for the "batter" to kick.

Roller derby is a contact sport played on roller skates that has had brief surges of popularity throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Roller Derby was portrayed in the film Whip It. Since September , there were women's, men's, and junior leagues in the U.

For the most part, unlike sports in Europe and other parts of the world, there is no system of promotion and relegation in American professional sports.

Major sports leagues operate as associations of franchises. The same 30—32 teams play in the league each year unless they move to another city or the league chooses to expand with new franchises.

All American sports leagues use the same type of schedule. After the regular season, the 10—16 teams with the best records enter a playoff tournament leading to a championship series or game.

American sports, except for soccer, have no equivalent to the cup competitions that run concurrently with leagues in European sports.

Even in the case of soccer, the cup competition, the Lamar Hunt U. Open Cup , draws considerably less attention than the regular season.

Also, the only top-level U. Since the season, all U. Open Cup, in which they compete against teams from lower-level U. In addition, three or four U.

Open Cup qualify to play clubs from countries outside the U. International competition is not as important in American sports as it is in the sporting culture of most other countries, although Olympic ice hockey and basketball tournaments do generate attention.

The first international baseball tournament with top-level players, the World Baseball Classic , also generated some positive reviews after its inaugural tournament in The major professional sports leagues operate drafts once a year, in which each league's teams selected eligible prospects.

Eligibility differs from league to league. Baseball and ice hockey operate minor league systems for players who have finished education but are not ready or good enough for the major leagues.

The NBA also has a development league for players who are not ready to play at the top level. The extent in the United States to which sports are associated with secondary and tertiary education is rare among nations.

Millions of students participate in athletics programs operated by high schools and colleges. Student-athletes often receive scholarships to colleges in recognition of their athletic potential.

Especially in football and basketball, college sports are followed in numbers equaling those of professional sports. For upper-tier institutions, sports are a significant source of revenue; for less prominent teams, maintaining a high-level team is a major expense.

To ensure some semblance of competitive balance, the NCAA divides its institutions into three divisions four in football , sorted by the number of athletic scholarships each school is willing to offer.

The most practiced college sports, measured by NCAA reporting on varsity team participation, [74] are: The most popular sport among female athletes is soccer, followed closely by track and field.

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. As of , the NFHS reported 29 consecutive years of increasing high school sports participation, driven largely by growth in girls participation.

Popular high school sports in various regions of the U. The Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament is the largest high school sporting event in the country, with average attendance to the top tier, or "AA", games over 18, The Amateur Athletic Union claims to have over , participants and over , volunteers..

The AAU has been around since , and has been influential in amateur sports for more than years. In the s, the AAU received growing criticism.

Many claimed that its regulatory framework was outdated. Women were banned from participating in certain competitions and some runners were locked out.

There were also problems with sporting goods that did not meet the standards of the AAU. During this time, the Amateur Sports Act of organized the United States Olympic Committee and saw the re-establishment of state-supported independent associations for the Olympic sports, referred to as national governing bodies.

As a result, the AAU lost its influence and importance in international sports, and focused on the support and promotion of predominantly youthful athletes, as well as on the organization of national sports events.

No American government agency is charged with overseeing sports. However, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports advises the President through the Secretary of Health and Human Services about physical activity, fitness, and sports, and recommends programs to promote regular physical activity for the health of all Americans.

Congress has also involved itself in several aspects of sports, notably gender equity in college athletics, illegal drugs in pro sports, sports broadcasting and the application of antitrust law to sports leagues.

Individual states may also have athletic commissions, which primarily govern individual sports such as boxing , kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

Although these commissions only have jurisdiction over their own states, the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U. Constitution is often interpreted as forcing all other states to recognize any state athletic commission's rulings regarding an athlete's fitness for participating in a sport.

Sports have been a major part of American broadcasting since the early days of radio. Contracts between leagues and broadcasters stipulate how often games must be interrupted for commercials.

Because of all of the advertisements, broadcasting contracts are very lucrative and account for the biggest chunk of major professional teams' revenues.

Broadcasters also covet the television contracts for the major sports leagues especially in the case of the NFL in order to amplify their ability to promote their programming to the audience, especially young and middle-aged adult males.

The advent of cable and satellite television has greatly expanded sports offerings on American TV. It has been followed by several sister networks and competitors.

Some sports teams run their own television networks as well. Sports are also widely broadcast at the local level, ranging from college and professional sports down to on some smaller stations recreational and youth leagues.

In the broadest definition of sports—physical recreation of all sorts—the four most popular sports among the general population of the United States are exercise walking 90 million , exercising with equipment 53 million , swimming 52 million and camping 47 million.

The most popular competitive sport and fifth most popular recreational sport is bowling 43 million. Other most popular sports are fishing 35 million , bicycling 37 million , weightlifting 33 million , aerobics 30 million , and hiking 28 million.

There is some variation by viewer demographics. Men, show a stronger preference for football than women, conservatives a stronger preference than liberals, and those over 35 a stronger preference than those under In all groups, however, football is still the most popular.

Basketball and soccer are more popular among liberals than conservatives. Though baseball has historically been called the "national pastime", American football has considerably grown in popularity with the advent of television over the last several decades.

Most debates about "America's most popular sport" tend to center on the degree of Americans' identification with either of these two games; the question is a difficult one to resolve.

Advocates of baseball point to the overwhelming number of baseball tickets sold annually in the United States and Canada, compared to NFL football.

It is likely that the average American sports fan will attend many more major league baseball games than NFL football games in his or her lifetime, due in part to baseball's longer schedule and football's generally higher ticket prices.

Advocates of football, in turn, point to football's large television audience, including the Super Bowl, though the sport is also facing some negative publicity in the world of youth sports due to media coverage of documented health and injury risks posed to players, including the potential long-term health concerns that concussions pose for children or teenagers.

In many cases, identification with a certain football or baseball team is a matter of local identity and family inheritance going back many generations.

Furthermore, the popularity of each, as well as of other major team sports, may vary depending on region, ethnicity and age. The following table shows the major professional sports leagues, which average over 15, fans per game and that have a national TV contract that pays rights fees.

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History of sports in the United States. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. United States at the Olympics.

Motorsport in the United States. Golf in the United States. Tennis in the United States. Professional sports leagues in the United States.

This section needs additional citations for verification. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. History of lacrosse , College lacrosse , and Lacrosse in the United States.

Volleyball in the United States. Rugby union in the United States. Cricket in the United States. Ultimate sport and Flying disc freestyle. Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.

College athletics in the United States. An additional 29, students played in variants with reduced team sizes 6-man, 8-man, 9-man.

List of TV markets and major sports teams in the United States. Three places are automatically reserved for MLS teams: The fourth place goes to the U.

Open Cup winner, which is not necessarily an MLS team. If a team qualifies for the Champions League by more than one method, or if a Canada-based team fills an automatic qualifying spot, the Champions League place passes to the U.

Retrieved 13 March Retrieved on July 24, The Chesapeake Gentry, s. Archived from the original on May 17, Retrieved July 22, Retrieved January 6, Retrieved February 22, Fastest Woman on Earth.

Born at the Right Time ". Retrieved December 21, Retrieved September 25, Retrieved September 23, Archived from the original on March 27, Retrieved October 4, Soccer nearly cracks America's top three favorite spectator sports" , Philly Voice January 9, Archived from the original on October 21, Retrieved February 11, Retrieved June 25, Epic Game 7 was off the charts".

Retrieved November 24, TV records, but not all". Retrieved March 28, Retrieved August 13, No states in the Southern United States sponsor ice hockey.

Archived from the original PDF on March 27, People, Politics, and Power in the Nine Peirce — Google Books. The New York Times.

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