Top 12 Most Popular Sports in America

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Did you know NFL regular season viewership was 17.1 million on televisions and digital media in 2021 and that’s an increase of 10% compared to 2020, making Football the most popular sport in America? 

When it comes to the most popular sports in the US, American Football has secured its first position since the 1920s when NFL was formed whereas it had started getting traction from the early 18th century. 

While no doubt, that NFL is the most viewed sports event in the US and worldwide, we do have few other sports that fellow Americans love to watch and play. 

Most Popular Sports in America
Most Popular Sports in America

This article is filled with data and will quest your query on “What’s the most popular sports in America“, sit tight and enjoy the ride. Let me know in the comments which sports you play the most and if you played any of these in your school days. 

Top 12 Most Popular Sports in America (2023 Edition)

Let’s dive into the most popular sports across the land today. The listing below is based on the number of audiences and viewership ratings. 

S.N Sports Average Audience in the US (Estimation of 2021/22) Highest Views in different years (Worldwide)
12 Badminton 1.3 Million 3.6 Million (2017)
11 Volleyball 1.1 Million 1.94 Million (2021)
10 WWE 11 Million  10 Million (1999)
9 Motor Sports 9.17 Million  7.4 Million (2021)
8 Boxing 671 thousand 4.4 Million (2015)
7 Golf 7.3 Million  9.4 Million (2021)
6 Tennis  700 thousand  22.7 Million (2001)
5 Ice Hockey 2.5 Million  27.6 Million (1980)
4 Soccer 5 Million  16 Million (2012)
3 Baseball 68.48 Million  40 Million (2016)
2 Basketball 17 Million  35.89 Million (1998)
1 American Football 114.3 Million  114 Million (2015)

12. Badminton

Badminton is most popular in China followed by Indonesia, however, according to Wikipedia, 1,362,000 people play it regularly in the US. Badminton is not popular in America as it is taken a bit like a backyard game. 

If we look at Google Trends data for badminton, it seems the interest in people has remained constant since 2004. I would rather say, it has declined. 

Badminton Trends in the USA
Badminton Trends in the USA – Taken from Google Trends

Beiwen Zhang is the most accomplished badminton player in the USA. She has a record of 290 wins and 170 losses until now. 

However, Badminton has secured 12th position as our most popular sport in America. 

11. Volleyball

Volleyball is enjoyed thoroughly by almost 37 million active people in the United States.

Also, it’s safe to say that this game has been drastically growing in the professional arena.

Volleyball god, Wilfredo Leon
Volleyball god, Wilfredo Leon (Source: The New York Times)

As for its viewership, there were about 800k audiences for the game of the NCAA Volleyball Championship.

Even though volleyball is less advertised than other games on the list, California is leagues ahead in volleyball. 

10. WWE

WWE has been rocking the entertainment and sports industry ever since its inception. Popular worldwide, WWE has an immense fanbase in the States, around 11 million to be exact. 

Sad enough, the popularity has been suppressed lately due to the dominance of other sports. 

John Cena with his spinner WWE Belt (Source: Pinterest)
John Cena with his spinner WWE Belt (Source: Pinterest)

As observed by the people, they state that WWE repeats content, and hence, it brings a bit of disappointment in that factor. Nevertheless, it is still one of the most popular sports in the USA. 

Read about the top football movies to date!

9. Motor Sports 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway stands as the base for motorsports in the United States. There is no doubt that this sport has been pulling numbers of fans every now and then.

Today, it has around 15 million people in its fandom. 

NASCAR yellow flag lineup
NASCAR yellow flag lineup (Source: Public Domain

Well, just NASCAR Cup Series alone pulls approximately 8 million views.

From watching it in a live audience to watching it with friends at home, motorsports pass with high marks for both thrill and adventure. 

8. Boxing

Well, Americans love boxing. In fact, back in the days, it used to be their pride and drew the largest audience than any other show or sport.

Herewith, it also gained the most significant financial revenues.

'The Greatest' Boxing
‘The Greatest’ Boxing (Source: The Washington Post)

Unfortunately, boxing is gradually losing its essence and audience in the United States.

Still, even today, California has the highest audience in boxing in the States. 

7. Golf 

We all know what golf went through in the previous phase when it got called “a rich old men game.”

Today, golf is played by almost 10% of the United States’ population. So, yes, that is nearly 30 million people interested right there. 

Richest Golfers in the World
Golf is one of the most popular sports in America (Source: Sportsmen’s Lodge)

Among those fans, 77% are said to be male, while the rest are female. As many claims, it’s been one of the greatest pastimes among people.

6. Tennis

Among all those sports, tennis does stand out uniquely, often called the “transitional game.”

At present, tennis pulls 17.9 million people including spectators and players. 

Tennis Sport Equipment (Source: Pixabay)

Each year, tennis has shown rapid growth of interest with 292 million people. But in the bigger picture, tennis is slightly declining among the American kids. 

5. Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey is relatively steady in the United States, falling in the top 5 sports.

Ranking viewership in just a single game, ice hockey depicts an average of 2.6 million views. Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota are the popular hotspots for this game in particular. 

Ice hockey one of the best winter sports (Source: DAZN)
Ice hockey one of the best winter sports (Source: DAZN)

Apart from it, ice hockey targets an audience ranging from 18 years to 45 years. Also, as per the sources, the target percent of their audience is 20%, just in America. 

4. Soccer 

Soccer is the most enjoyed and popular game around the globe, but if you look through the context of the United States, it is gaining fame just now.

Finally, the Americans are getting the hang of this game and enjoying its beauty. Hence, it stays as one of the most popular sports. 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on same match
Two best soccer players; Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (Source: World Soccer)

All around the States, Washington is the hotspot for soccer and its rising popularity.

Currently, soccer grabs around 24.2 million views in the United States.

Although it’s getting admiration, it is still hard to get to the top, as it doesn’t match American culture. 

You also may want to learn in detail about the top ten most dangerous sports. 

3. Baseball 

Most people wonder, “Why is baseball so popular in the States?” The answer is simple; it is due to the physical power that this sport challenges.

It is also due to the equal importance of strategy, patience, and a pressurized environment that provides the fulfillment of thrill. 

Top 10 easiest sports in the world
Baseball, one of the most popular sports in America (Source:

However, it’s slowly declining. For example, back in the early 2000s, baseball drew around 80 million views, while it just starts at 26.8 million views at present.

2. Basketball 

All around the world, basketball is the most popular in the United States. It is a highly popularized sport due to its fun tactics, exciting pace, and known opportunity. 

Moreover, it passes the thrill check and is an eye candy even to the spectators.

The Best Basketball Courts in the World
Venice Beach basketball court on a bright sunny day (Source:

On an average level, basketball gains 105 million views per game.

1. American Football

Without a doubt, American football is the most popular sport in the United States. Simply, it garners 37% of the population, claiming it to be their favorite sport in the States.

In the meantime, it also recorded the highest number of live audiences in the stadium, with 67,591 more than any other league. 

Best NFL Punter Braden Mann
Best NFL Punter Braden Mann (Source: New York Jets)

Likewise, in the meantime, this sport has been widely played since the beginning, from the high school level to the collegiate level and international arena.

It simply depicts diversified chances and gives much more opportunities to grow. 


Altogether, we have summed up our list as per their popularity rate. As diversified and unified as the nation is, so are the sports.

Every nook and corner is together in this common field of the sports industry. 

You might be interested to learn about the top sixteen most popular sports all over the world.  

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  1. WWE is not a sport. It contains no actual competition and should not be conflated with the real sports of wrestling in their different legitimate forms. The WWE is strictly entertainment.

  2. Was cornhole ever brought into your research? It seems as though it’s television coverage is increaing. I feel I see it more than, Badminton and even volleyball. Also it is appearing more on prime channels in more traditional sport viewing time slots, i.e. ESPN and CBS on weekend days.

    I also would think the participants levels would be extremely high. You see it all over, backyards, campsites, tailgating.


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