FAST-US-7 U.S. Popular Culture References
124 Most Popular Sports in the U.S. (1992)
A FAST-US-7 United States Popular Culture Reference File
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere


This list of the 124 most popular sports in the United States is based on National Sports Study II, conducted in 1992 and based on a 64-page questionnaire to which there were 1,479 responses. See also the 1998 top sports.

The Top 61 Sports (counting 'ties')
  1. NFL football
  2. Women's figure skating
  3. (tie) Women's gymnastics
    Major League baseball
  4. Pairs figure skating
  5. Men's figure skating
  6. Pairs Ice dancing
  7. Men's gymnastics
  8. NBA Basketball
  9. NCAA/CFA college football
  10. High school football
  11. International/Olympic basketball
  12. High school basketball
  13. NASCAR stock car racing
  14. Indy car racing
  15. NCAA men's college basketball
  16. International/Olympic volleyball
  17. Platform diving
  18. Little League baseball
  19. Competitive swimming
  20. Springboard diving
  21. (tie) Rodeo
    Thoroughbred racing
  22. Air show airplane stunts
  23. Boxing
  24. Billiards/pool
  25. Track and field
  26. Amateur softball
  27. High school baseball
  28. Synchronized swimming
  29. Arena football
  30. NHL ice hockey
  31. College baseball
  32. Minor league baseball
  33. Luge/bobsled racing
  34. American Gladiators/Jousting
  35. Olympic/World Cup skiing
  36. Men's pro snow skiing
  37. Formula One racing
  38. Acrobatics, Chinese or other
  39. WWF wrestling
  40. Tractor pulls
  41. NHRA/HRA drag racing
  42. NCAA collegiate gymnastics
  43. (tie) Major league pro volleyball
    PBA men's pro bowling tour
    Speedskating
  44. PGA men's golf
  45. Equestrian jumping
  46. Women's pro bowling tour
  47. Olympic/international Ice hockey
  48. World League football
  49. Body building
  50. (tie) Women's pro snow skiing
    PGA men's senior golf
  51. Pro beach volleyball
  52. IMSA auto racing
  53. (tie) Motorcycle-motorcross racing
    Target shooting
  54. Olympic/amateur boxing
  55. Sprint car racing
Sports Ranked 62 to 124 (counting 'ties')
  1. (tie) ATP Grand Prix men's pro tennis
    Badminton
    Equestrian steeplechase
    Roller derby
    Freestyle acrobatic snow skiing
    Weightlifting
  2. (tie) Archery
    Surfing
  3. Daredevil jumping acts
  4. CBA minor league basketball
  5. (tie) Dog racing
    Men's marathon
  6. (tie) Harness racing
    Triathlons
  7. (tie) Canoe, kayaking
    WTA Women's Professional Tennis
  8. Judo
  9. (tie) AHL minor league Ice hockey
    NCAA women's college basketball
  10. Professional water skiing
  11. LPGA women's golf
  12. (tie) Offshore powerboat racing
    PKA full-contact karate
    Table tennis/ping-pong
  13. Skeet shooting
  14. Major Indoor soccer
  15. Tae kwon do
  16. Unlimited hydroplane racing
  17. (tie) Log rolling/pole climbing
    NCAA college Ice hockey
  18. (tie) Cutting horse competition
    Dog sledding
    Women's pro basketball
  19. (tie) Olympic/collegiate wrestling
    World Cup/International soccer
  20. Youth soccer leagues
  21. Cliff diving
  22. Snowmobile racing
  23. Windsurfing
  24. (tie) Racquetball
    Sailing/yacht racing
  25. Women's marathon
  26. Mountain bike racing
  27. Water polo
  28. (tie) Fencing
    Pop Warner football
    Snowboarding
    Youth Ice hockey
  29. Running road races
  30. (tie) Arm wrestling
    Jai-Alai
  31. Stage-to-stage tour bike racing
  32. Boardsailing
  33. (tie) Field hockey
    Ultimate frisbee
  34. Closed-circuit bike racing
  35. (tie) NCAA collegiate tennis
    Crew/rowing
  36. Biathlons
  37. Australian rules football
  38. Professional rugby
  39. Velodrome bike racing
  40. Polo

 

'United Sports of America' (click)

TRADITIONAL SPORTS — PARTICIPANT & SPECTATOR

  • Baseball, softball (played in school, all have at least
  • American football basic level of player-competence;
  • Basketball highly-developed professional levels)

ESTABLISHED SPORTS — PARTICIPANT/SPECTATOR — STATUS UNCLEAR

  • Tennis
  • Swimming & Platform Diving, Water skiing, Scuba Diving
  • Track and field, cross-country, road racing (running)
  • Volleyball (California beaches)
  • Skiing (Alpine and Nordic), archery, riflery, pistol shooting

NEWER SPORTS — MAINLY SPECTATOR

  • Ice hockey, Soccer & Rugby football
  • Jai-alai
  • Different sports popular in different states (see image and link at right)

TRADITIONAL INDOOR SPORTS — LOWER STATUS STEREOTYPE

  • Bowling, roller derby, boxing, wrestling, esp. professional
  • Pool and billiards, card games (poker, etc., not bridge, etc.)

NEWER INDOOR SPORTS — "UPSCALE" STATUS STEREOTYPE

  • Squash, racqetball, handball (note difference cf Europe)
  • Aerobics, jazzercise, jazz dance, gymnastics, ice-skating

NEWER OUTDOOR SPORTS — UPSCALE STATUS

  • Hang-gliding, parachuting, windsurfing
  • Mountain climbing, scuba diving, "wilderness survival" courses

NEWER "ENDURANCE" SPORTS

  • Marathon races, "Citizen" road races, X-C ski marathons
  • Triathlon events (Swim, bicycle, run)

MOTORIZED SPORTS--BASICALLY LOWER CLASS; APPEAL OF "POWER"

  • Formula One racing, Stock car racing, Demolition Derby

ANIMAL SPORTS

  • Horse racing (horse and jockey, trotting)
  • "Show horse" events (dressage, jumping)
  • Rodeo, hunting [with dog], cockfights, greyhound races

MAJOR SPORTS EVENTS

Olympics, Super Bowl, College "Bowl" Games, World Series, Stanley Cup, Kentucky Derby, New York & Boston Marathons, Hawaii Ironman, NBA Playoffs, U.S. Open and Masters Tournaments (Golf), Indy 500

MAJOR STADIA (NAMES KNOWN, LANDMARKS)

Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden; The Astrodome (Houston), SuperDome (New Orleans), MetroDome (Minneapolis), Kingdome (Seattle), Georgia Dome (Atlanta); Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl (vs Super Bowl); Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds; Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, [the former] Candlestick Park, Los Angeles Coliseum; Busch Stadium The Meadowlands, Arrowhead Stadium, Lambeau Field, Soldiers Field, Foxboro Stadium, RFK Stadium Wrigley Field (Chicago), Fenway Park (Boston)

SELECTED SPORTS VALUES, DIFFERENTIATIONS

  • Fast versus slow (tempo of game)
  • Young versus old (participant age, or perception of..)
  • Traditional versus "New," "Statusy"; also country/region differences, as with X-C skiing between Finland and the U.S. or hockey with Canada and the U.S.
  • "Good" vs "Bad" (moral, status, class...) (reputations, real or alleged)
  • Offense or defense-oriented; simple or intellectual; foot or hand-oriented, etc.
  • Changes in cultural values orientation, example of Namath with Jets, etc.
  • Sports stereotypes as "elite," "popular," or "folk" games
  • Language of sports important, as is the deeper meaning of their myths and rituals


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Last Updated 08 October 2013