American sports have transcended their original areas of interest and are now bona fide spectacles worldwide. If you’re yet to catch the US sporting bug, here’s a short introduction to five of the biggest and best team sports played Stateside.
1. American Football (NFL)
The NFL is the biggest sport in America, and over one-third of the US population cite it as their favorite (38.8%, according to Sports Business Journal). Played in four quarters, each lasting 15 minutes, the offence has four attempts to advance the ball 10 yards. An average of 17 million people attend games per season, which is almost 70,000 per game! The NFL season begins in September, with each team playing 16 games before the best advance to the play-offs. It culminates with a spectacle everyone is familiar with: The Super Bowl. Dominated by teams like the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, the NFL is a sight to behold for any fan of intense action.
2. Basketball (NBA)
America’s second most popular sport (15.3% of Americans name it their favorite) is basketball, an end-to-end spectacle that has you on the edge of your seat for four quarters of 12 minutes. Keeping it simple, the objective is to score more points than the opponent. An average of 22 million people watch it every year, or 18,000 per game. The season begins in October, and each team plays 82 games until May. Current title challengers include Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, who boast star players LeBron James and Steph Curry.
3. Baseball (MLB)
Baseball is for people who appreciate the finer things in life, as there is no time limit to the game. The game lasts nine innings of three outs, but if no-one is winning after nine innings play continues, with one game sometimes taking five or six hours to complete. The MLB season begins in April, with each team playing a total of 162 games until September. Then the playoffs begin, culminating in October with an event that is well known everywhere: The World Series. Dominated historically by the New York Yankees and conjuring legends like Babe Ruth, there’s a reason it’s been dubbed ‘the national pastime’ over the pond.
4. Ice Hockey (NHL)
The last of America’s “Big Four”, the NHL combines the basics of football with the end-to-end action of basketball. Played during three periods of 20 minutes, ice hockey is not for the faint-hearted as players are allowed to fight. The season, like the NBA, begins in October and lasts for 82 games. Currently, the NHL is composed of 31 teams – 24 play in the US, while seven hail from neighbouring Canada.
5. Soccer (MLS)
Probably the fastest growing sport in America, with crowds surpassing 70,000, Major League Soccer is the Premier League of the USA. Like baseball, the season runs from March to October, with each team playing 34 games. The play-offs then run during November and December. The most popular teams are the LA Galaxy and Toronto FC.