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Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, most watched american sports, popular in USA, American Football
American Football ; image credit pixabay.com

Sports of different kinds play an important role in American society. These sports have earned tremendous popularity across USA, but most importantly they are the vehicles for transmitting such values as fair play, justice and team work. Sports have contributed to social and racial integration and over history, they have been a ‘social glue’ bonding the whole America together.

Early American personalities like President Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin stressed the need for sports such as running and swimming. In the 20th century, American presidents like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy continued to encourage sports among the Americans.

Most Popular Sports in America:

Later in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the President’s council on Youth fitness. It aimed to encourage America’s youth to make fitness a first priority. This organization later became the President’s Council on physical fitness and Sports, which included people of all ages and abilities and promoting fitness through games and sports. Today, the Sports Council continues to play a vital role in development of sports in America.

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Sporty Ghost has enlisted the top 10 most popular sports in America. Let’s check out what is the most popular sport in America?

10. Martial Arts

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Martial Arts
Martial Arts ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

Martial arts are the traditions of combat practices. Martial arts are practiced for various reasons: self-defense, physical health and fitness, competition, entertainment purposes, as well as physical, mental and spiritual development.

Actually, the term ‘Martial Arts’ has become associated with the fighting arts of eastern Asia. But it was originally referred to the combat system of Europe, in early 1550s. The term ‘Martial Arts’ derived from the Latin word ‘Arts of Mars’, the Roman God of war. Not only in Europe, martial arts have also gained popularity in America. It has been a mandatory in US military to learn martial arts as a form of self-defense.

The US government is also encouraging Martial Arts as a form of sport. In 2007, the wholesale value of martial arts related sports equipment in America was estimated 314 million USD. The participation in martial arts in the same year was at stunning 6.9 million. The Ultimate fighting championship in Martial arts generated a revenue of about 250 USD in 2008. Martial arts are gaining popularity in the young generations of USA. It is one of the most watched sports in America. In our list of top 10 most popular sports in America, Martial arts is in No. 10 position.

Also Read: Top 10 list of extreme sports in the world

9. Motor Sports

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Motor Sports
Motor Sports ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

Like the rest of the World, Americans initially began to use their public streets as a track of automobile races. As time progressed, and it was realized that these venues are not safe for the public as they offered relatively little crowd control. Promoters and drivers in America discovered that horse racing tracks could provide better conditions for motor sports than public streets. Since then, there was a huge development in the racing motor sports in America.

United States are quite capable of arranging famous motor racing events. Here are some of these popular motor sports:

Indianapolis 500:

Indianapolis 500 is the most popular open wheel racing event in USA. An acrimonious split between the primary series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway led to the formation of Indy Racing League in 1994.

Notable Indy car drivers: A.J Foyt, Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Al Unser, Scott Dixon.


It is the result of enormous expansion of stock car racing. At past, it was mostly a regional circuit, followed in the Southern US. Now it is truly a national sports event.

Famous NASCAR drivers: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt and Jr. Jimmie Johnson

Formula 1:

Although, formula one is the most popular form of motor sports worldwide, it is not so much popular in America. The Formula one race first hosted in Austin, Texas in 2012. The event was the first United States Grand Prix held since 2007.

Famous Formula one drivers: Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, Scott Speed


Motorcycle racing, commonly known as MotoGP championship is one of the most popular sports in America. There are two Moto GP events took place in US. These events included United States motorcycle Grand Prix and Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Famous Moto GP drivers: Nicky Hayden, Collin Edwards, John Hopkins, Eddie Lawson

After American football, Motorcycle racing is the 2nd most watched in America. Motorcycle racing has marked as one of the most popular sports in USA. In our list of top 10 most popular sports in America, motorcycle racing is in No. 9 position.

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8. Pro-wrestling

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Pro-wrestling
Pro-wrestling ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

It was a professional wrestling promotion in America in the mid-1980s. Various federations of US wrestling, including National Wrestling Alliance, American Wrestling Association (AWA) and Jim Crockett Promotions unitedly formed Pro-wrestling in USA.

Historical background:

By 1984, Vince McMahon stepped forward to take the World Wrestling Federation ( Now World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE) national and he was the one to bring out Georgia Championship Wrestling. Vince McMahon was able to air the historic “Brawl to End it All” and “War to Settle the Score” wrestling card on MTV to fight the National Wrestling Alliance. Besides that, McMahon still had the most recognized wrestler in America, HULK HOGAN.

Famous Pro-wrestling figures: John Cena, Undertaker, Kane, Stone Cold, The Rock.

Pro-wrestling is probably the most watched and popular sport event in America to some of the critics.

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7. Tennis

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Tennis
Tennis ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

Tennis is an Olympic sport. The game is played all the levels of society. Tennis is popular in all ages. Although the modern game of tennis originated in England, the popularity spread worldwide in a very short period of time.

Tennis was first played in America at the home of Mary Ewing Outerbridge at the Staten Island Cricket club in New Brighton Staten Island, New York in 1874. In 1880, USA held the American National Tournament for the first time in history. United States Tennis Association was formed on 21 May, 1881 to build up rules and organize tennis tournaments.

The America’s national Men’s singles championships is currently known as US Open . The first US Open was took place in 1881 at Newport, Rhode Island. The US Open was made officially one of the tennis majors from 1924.

America has possessed a glorious memory in the history of tennis. The sport is equally popular in men and women. In our list of top 10 most popular sports in America, tennis is in the No. 7 position as one of the most watched sports in USA.

Famous US tennis players: Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams

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6. Golf

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Golf
Golf ; image credit pixabay.com

Golf began many centuries before the Europeans migrated to America. Presumably, they brought the game across the Atlantics. The game of golf took a while to become popular in America.

American Professional Golfers Association, PGA was formed in 1916. The catalyst in this procedure was the department store owner Rodman Wanamaker.

America is considered as the heartland of golf. There are hundreds of beautiful golf courses around the country. America’s history of golf is much enriched. Golf is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports in America.

Famous US golfers: Tiger Woods, Lanny Wadkins, Gene Littler, Lloyd Mangrum

Tiger Woods is an iconic golf figure in the history of America. He is the most successful golfer of all time. He has been one of the highest paid athletes for several years. The players like Woods has made the game one of the most popular sports in America.

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5. Soccer

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, soccer
soccer ; image credit commons.wikimedia.org

USA is one of those very few countries where soccer is not at the top in sense of popularity. In terms of viewership, soccer is regarded as the most popular sports in the world. However, soccer is gaining popularity in the school based programs while about 340,000 girls and 380,000 boys participated in this game during 2008 as per the US census.

The governing body is named United States Soccer Federation, commonly known as US Soccer. The organization arranges all level of soccer in America, involving the National teams, professional leagues and amateur games. Now a days, over 13 million people in America are playing soccer. It is the third most played team sport in America.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) is the highest professional soccer league in US. Major League Soccer began to put their mark since 1996 with 10 teams, and has now grown to 20 teams. The MLS is becoming very popular in USA. This soccer league has the third highest attendance of any sports events in America.

Famous US soccer players: Alexi Lalas, Thomas Florie, Cobi Jones, Tim Howard.

In our list of top 10 most popular sports in America, soccer is the fifth most popular sport in US.

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4. Ice Hockey

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Ice Hockey
Ice Hockey ; image credit pixabay.com

The game is generally known as ‘hockey’. The name ‘Ice-hockey’ is commonly used in countries where ‘hockey’ refers to dry field hockey. Ice hockey is the 4th most popular sport in America.

Ice-hockey is mostly popular in the areas of North America, particularly in northern parts of America and Canada. The National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest level in men’s hockey and is the most popular game in North America. USA won its first gold medal in winter Olympics 1980, in ice-hockey. It was the greatest success of the American ice hockey teams. The win was so remarkable that it is referred to “Miracle on Ice”, as it was a win over the mighty Soviet Union.

Famous US ice-hockey players: Tommy Williams, Jeff Norton, Darren Turcotte, Craig Janney

On the basis of popularity, ice-hockey is the 4th most popular sports in America.

Also Read: Top 10 highest paid soccer players in America

3. Basketball

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Basketball
Basketball ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

Basketball is the 3rd most popular sport in our list. Basketball is the 10th most followed sport in the world. Basically the game is well developed in America and some part of Europe. Nowadays, people all over the world enjoy the game.

All basketball competitions in America are organized under National Basketball Association (NBA). There are so many world renowned NBA basketball teams in all around USA.

US basketball is responsible for the selection and training of the men’s and the women’s team. The USA basketball team used to participate in FIBA Basketball World Cup, Games of the Olympiad and men’s and women’s qualifiers.

Basketball is very much popular sport in America in all terms of view and it is gaining the popularity day by day.

Famous US basketball players: Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant

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2. Baseball

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, Baseball, most watched in USA
Baseball ; image credit it.wikipedia.org

Baseball is considered as the 2nd most popular sport in America. In America, baseball is called the game of national pastime. There are two levels of baseball competition in America, 1. Minor League Baseball and 2. Major League Baseball (MLB). The increased popularity of baseball is not just seen in America, but the whole world is becoming the centerpiece of baseball events slowly. There is always a huge number of audience following baseball matches in America.

Baseball can be played well by people of average height and weight. For this reason, the game is called a “democratic Game”. The game is played at a number of amateur levels, from the high school to college. During the spring and summer, there will be a baseball game going on almost every corner of America.

Famous US baseball players: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Lou Gehrig

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1. American Football

Top 10 Most Popular Sports in America, most watched american sports, popular in USA, American Football
American Football ; image credit pixabay.com

In our list of top 10 most popular sports in America, American Football is the most popular and most watched sport of all the other sports. It is also the 9th most popular sport in the whole sport world.

The biggest competition of American football is organized by National Football League (NFL). American football is more popular in southern parts of USA, like Texas, California and Florida.

The Americans are not just watching the football at homes. They are coming by thousands to watch the game on football stadiums. In 2012, the NFL had an average attendance of 67,604 at each game of football, which is more than any other sports event in the world.

With the charm of money and fame, American football has achieved the place of most popular sport in America.

In 2012, nearly 1.1 million American high school athletes and over 70,000 college athletes played American football in USA. The NFL championship game, “the Super Bowl”, ranks among the most watched sports worldwide. The NFL has an annual revenue of around $10 billion USD.

Famous NFL players: Reggie White, Don Hutson, Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice

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There are other most popular sports in America and Boxing is one of them. There are plenty of Americans who still remember the golden days of boxing. Who could forget the legendary American boxer Mohammad Ali? Still now, the legacy of Boxing is carried out by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who are very popular figure in America.

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  1. You claim USA won its first gold Olympic medal for hockey in 1980 when the first time USA won gold in hockey was 1960


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