When it comes to entertainment in the United States, sports is always going to be part of the conversation. Depending on the region, that sport may change, but the general public’s relationship to the team that represents their city or region is often passionate.
For those new to sports, finding a fun way to participate can be a little confusing. In addition to learning rules and lingo, there are other parts of fandom that are important. For example, clothing and merchandise are a big deal as fans will buy anything with their team’s name on it. While another big part of the major leagues is learning about betting culture for each sport and league and even fantasy sports groups and leagues.
Compared to Europe, sports betting is relatively new in the US. But with the legalization and subsequent opening up of the betting industry, sites like FOX Bet offer a wide range of bets for the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. US-based bookmakers don’t just cover the major leagues though, they also cover the likes the UK’s Premier League for soccer. For many sports fans, betting is a simple way to make any game a bit more exciting and back their team in the process.
So as you can see, there’s a lot to learn about sports in the US, so let’s dive into the basics about each of the country’s most popular major league sports: the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.
Baseball & the MLB
The MLB got its start in 1903, which makes it the oldest professional sports league in the US and Canada. Today, 30 teams battle it out from spring to fall, playing 162 games each season in a round-robin style.
The MLB is divided between the National League and the American League. At the end of the regular season, the top five teams from each league come together in a post-season tournament. The final two teams face off in the World Series, a best-of-seven competition.
Baseball is a summer sport in the US so if you’re going to a game sure to take a hat to stay out of the sun, and drink plenty of water. And remember that baseball games can last a few hours so be prepared for a long stay at the stadium.
Basketball & the NBA
The NBA got its start in 1946 when two major basketball leagues combined to create the National Basketball Association. Since then, the league has accrued 30 different teams all across the US and Canada. These teams are divided between two conferences: Eastern and Western.
The NBA runs from October to April every year, during which time each team will play 82 games. After that, a single-elimination playoff series begins. The playoffs are played by the top eight teams from each conference until there are two teams remaining. The championship series is a best-of-seven competition known as the NBA Finals.
Although getting a ticket for an NBA game can be extremely difficult, the sport is one of the most watched and pulls in the most bets and wagers from sports fans. With basketball being such a fast-paced game, betting providers have perfected in-game wagers making it an even more exciting sport to watch.
Football & the NFL
Established in 1920, the NFL is now celebrating its centennial. From September to February, the NFL’s 32 teams face off against each other based on their conference. There’s the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). Seven teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, which is a single-elimination tournament that ends with the Super Bowl Championship Game. Interestingly, the NFL is the only major league sport that is totally separate from its Canadian counterpart, the CFL.
As far as fans are concerned, football is widely adored in the US with the Super Bowl being the most-watched sporting event in the nation . Fans will often throw viewing parties even for those who have no interest in the game itself.
Hockey & the NHL
The NHL has been around since 1937 and is currently played between 31 teams across the US and Canada, but will expand with the 32nd franchise in 2021. Teams are split between Eastern and Western Conferences.
The regular season is played from October to mid-April. Each team plays 82 games, with the possibility of advancing to the Stanley Cup playoffs based on season record. Teams from each conference face off in a best-of-seven series to continue advancing. The last two teams standing compete in the Stanley Cup Finals to see who will be awarded the title and trophy.
The NHL is incredibly popular in Canada as well as the US. Attending games, much like baseball, can be really exciting for a non-sports fan and you’ll often see tourists at games. However, the action is a lot quicker than baseball which many people actually prefer. Oh and if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to a game, you’ll need to bring extra layers to stay warm!