Why Is Football the Most Popular Sport in America?

Four Men Watching a Football Game on Television
Football fans enjoy watching a game of football on TV. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Baseball may be as American as apple pie, but it's football that Americans list as their favorite sport. A 2010 poll by Harris Interactive showed that 35 percent of people who follow sports choose football as their favorite. Baseball is a distant second, with 16 percent listing it as their favorite sport. Football's popularity has many reasons, including the ease of watching it on television, which brings it to more people each week.

League Parity

People love football because the teams are valued more equally than in baseball, reports columnist Michael Fitzgerald at "Bleacher Report." No one team has "bought" a powerhouse lineup, so all teams have about the same chance of rising to the top based on skill. This makes the games more balanced and the teams easy to root for. This salary parity is extended to advertising revenue and sports paraphernalia sales, meaning that no NFL team has all the money. This creates healthy competition.

Gambling

Some people enjoy football because it's easy to gamble on the games. They are played on a regular basis, and an abundance of information about the match-ups is available. Pundits make predictions and the point spreads are easy to follow. Magazines such as "Gaming Today" offer information so fans can make considered choices.

Fantasy Leagues

Fantasy Football Leagues give fans the opportunity to create their own dream teams of players. This keeps fans interested in games beyond those their favorite teams play, as fantasy teams are created from among the teams in the NFL.

Excitement

Football is exciting to watch. It moves quickly and requires the hard-hitting contact of the defensive line plus the precision skills and speed of the quarterback and running backs. Football combines what people like about other sports -- the hitting of boxing, precision passing of basketball, camaraderie of baseball -- into one game that moves quickly. This excitement has led to the tradition of football parties, where people watch the games with groups of friends.

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