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Favorite pastimes – America’s most popular sports

by Nina Samone
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By: Nina Samone

Sports have been a vital part of American culture for at least 3,000 years, from training as hunters, preparing for war and sparring with rivals – one of the most popular past times in America today is participating and watching athletics.

Professional athletes are some of the best paid individuals in the country, but what are the most popular? Let’s take a look.


First on our list shouldn’t come as a surprise – American Football. The average audience for football is 112.3 million according to PlayersBio. One of the most-watched, most-debated and most-played sport, football has captivated the hearts of players and fans alike.

The spirit of football is alive and well in many homes across America during the season – many fans partake in a popular pre-game ritual call tailgating, full of music, games and food.

Fantasy football introduces an entirely new world within the football niche, offering an exciting way for fans to connect and even potentially earn money from betting on their favorite players and teams.

The soul of American football boils down to the concluding game of the year – the superbowl. The emotion, the heat of the game, the food and the plays featuring fan favorite football stars grabs the hearts of Americans all over the country. The Super Bowl halftime show – often featuring popular American superstars – is one of the entertainment highlights of the year.


The No.2 spot in the hearts of Americans is baseball. Deemed “America’s national pastime,” the nostalgic feelings evoked at baseball games is one Americans can’t get enough of. The true experience of an American baseball game may consist of a cold drink, hotdogs, peanuts, popcorn and maybe even the opportunity to catch a stray ball!

Its popularity grew in the early 1800s and has been embedded in American culture for over a century. Names like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig could spark any baseball enthusiast’s conversation – along with teams like the 1927 Yankees and 1934 Cardinals.

Fan rivalries and its ease of entrance to begin playing are attractive quality of this sport.


Thrilling, fast-paced and one of the most opportunistic sports in the United States, basketball has stolen the hearts of sports fans all over the country. The athleticism, skill and pace of competition make this sport pure eye candy for basketball enthusiasts.

From Michael Jordan to Larry Bird, Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant, basketball and it’s known superstars have quite a history in America and evoke tons of emotion from fans and players alike. Invented in Massachusetts in 1891, basketball has grown into thriving niche with fantasy teams, numerous professional and semi-professional leagues and even overseas competition.

From sneakers, to slam dunks, to yelling “KOBEEEEE,” when throwing crumbled up papers into the garbage can, no sport has become as embedded into American college and adult life as basketball.


Soccer is one of the most popular sports across the globe, but in the United States, it falls to fourth place. The beauty, grace and athleticism you’ll see in a soccer game is unmatched by any other sport. According to PlayersBio, soccer has an audience of about 5 million – and is growing in popularity in the United States.

Despite its popularity in other countries, the United States isn’t as attracted to soccer for a number of reasons – not being a dominating super-power among the best in the world, and other historical factors play a large part.

Youth soccer is becoming increasingly popular, however – millions of American youth participate in soccer each year.


Concluding our list as one of America’s favorite sports is Ice Hockey – a sport we owe largely to our Canadian neighbors in Montreal.

It was developed sometime in the 1870s, before spreading to the United States and growing in popularity. Hockey has an audience of about 2.5 million in the United States, and is mostly common in the northernmost states closest to Canada.

Hockey is a different sport than many others, with unique equipment and skillsets required for competition. Players are also able to have large control of the game, making the sport more interested to watch than some others.


Biers, Joshua. Dec 27th, 2013. Sportskeeda. “What makes American football so popular?” <,American%20football%20is%20so%20popular.&text=In%20the%20NFL%2C%20games%20are,hoping%20to%20make%20the%20playoffs>

Jones, Aaron. September 17th, 2021. Make-Shots. “Why is Baseball so Popular in The USA? (Top 5 Reasons). <>

Gurung, Rajani. June 20th, 2022. PlayersBio. “Top 12 Most Popular Sports in America.” <>

Injai, Lewis. April 6th, 2022. Sports Brief. “Which is the most popular sport in America? – Top 5 revealed.” <>

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