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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.
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. 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 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 to which sports are associated with secondary and tertiary education in the United States 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,  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 existed since , and has been influential in amateur sports for that same time span. 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. 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. 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.
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.
Advocates of baseball point to the overwhelming number of baseball tickets sold annually in the United States and Canada, compared to NFL football.
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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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. History of sports in the United States. 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.
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.
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