Sports in the United States are an important part of American culture. American football is the most popular sport in the United States followed by basketball, baseball, and soccer. Tennis, golf, hockey, wrestling, auto racing, arena football, field lacrosse, box lacrosse and volleyball are also popular sports in the country.
Based on revenue, the four major professional sports leagues in the United States are Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). The market for professional sports in the United States is roughly $69 billion, roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined. Major League Soccer (MLS) is sometimes included in a “top five” of leagues of the country. All four enjoy wide-ranging domestic media coverage and are considered the preeminent leagues in their respective sports in the world, although American football does not have a substantial following in other nations. Three of those leagues have teams that represent Canadian cities, and all four are the most financially lucrative sports leagues of their sport.
Professional teams in all major sports in the United States operate as franchises within a league, meaning that a team may move to a different city if the team’s owners believe there would be a financial benefit, but franchise moves are usually subject to some form of league-level approval. All major sports leagues use a similar type of regular-season schedule with a playoff tournament after the regular season ends. In addition to the major league–level organizations, several sports also have professional minor leagues, active in smaller cities across the country. As in Canada and Australia, sports leagues in the United States do not practice promotion and relegation, unlike many sports leagues in Europe.
Sports are particularly associated with education in the United States, with most high schools and universities having organized sports, and this is a unique sporting footprint for the U.S. College sports competitions play an important role in the American sporting culture, and college basketball and college football are as popular as professional sports in some parts of the country. The major sanctioning body for college sports is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Unlike most other nations, the United States government does not provide funding for sports nor for the United States Olympic Committee.