With the NFL season over for more than two weeks now, spikes in viewership have been seen in other sports. The age-old question of "What is the second most popular sport in America?" is prime for asking until September when the NFL takes over sports media again.
NBA: There are several different options that could be considered the second most followed attraction in our country. The National Basketball Association has made the biggest rise in the last 5 years with their global reach and social media branding with stars like LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden and others. The fact that basketball is becoming more popular all around the world, not just America, adds to it's appeal. Basketball is the most logical choice for the second most followed sport in our country. With it's influence only getting stronger towards the younger generations, there's a chance it challenges the NFL not too far in the future.
MLB: America's "Favorite" pastime has fallen off a bit over the last 15 years or so. What was at one time the most followed sport in the country has become the 3rd, 4th and in some parts even the 5th most followed now. Most people will claim that as soon as strict doping testing was implemented (drug testing) the game got more boring which led to people changing the channel. The biggest change in the sport itself is the marketing of big stars. Even fans with some knowledge of the sport can't name more than 10 players not on their favorite team. The Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers will stay famous but very few if any stars have been made in the last 5 years which could be disastrous for this amazing sport.
NHL: Another sport that has been consistently followed when the NFL season ends is the National Hockey League. Similar to another entry further on this list, this sport's viewership will significantly increase during playoffs, with a mixture of regional bias as well. That is to say hockey isn't as appreciated as much in Utah as it is in Boston, but if your team's winning people become fans very quickly. An influx of marketable talents like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews has given hockey a kick in the right direction, and the timing of it's season gives it the perfect opportunity to continue to grow into it's potential viewership wise.
NCAAB: As soon as the calendar turns to February we know the Super Bowl is close. When the calendar turns to March though, we all think about College Basketball. The NCAAB season starts in November every year and culminates with the March Madness tournament. For three weeks out of the year this is the #1 sport in the country. The entire season has been gaining momentum parallel to the NBA's rise, but from a smaller starting base. Another attribute college basketball has is it's gambling appeal; with millions of brackets made every year and office pools betting on the tournament winner, everybody wants top watch college hoops.
UFC: The most recent sport to climb onto this list, the UFC was one of the only sporting events to continue through the COVID-19 pandemic. What used to be thought of as a barbaric clash of testosterone filled men, has gathered an appreciation for the true sport that it is. The technique and practice that it takes to reach this level of mixed martial arts is amazing and people started to take notice. The UFC also employs fighters from over 25 countries, arguably making it's global reach the highest on this list.
NFL offseason: America loves football. Even when the NFL season is over, it's never really over. The NFL's offseason is by far the most followed offseason of any sport and for good reason. The NFL has several different events spanning multiple days that attract a viewing similar to NBA playoff games. These events involve little to no football actually being played. It's no secret the NFL rules all when it comes to sports, but they don't have to be so selfish do they?
The answer to this question will vary from person-to-person, however most would say the NBA stepped in where baseball left off. The consistent tv ratings through the season and into the playoffs are still increasing, and it has a bigger social media reach than even the NFL. All of these sports are great and bring joy to millions of Americans as well as to other countries around the world. The ironic thing about this article is that it doesn't even matter what the true #2 is because to so many different people they could all be #1.
But money talks, and number don't lie. So the NBA is #2.
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