40 Maps and Charts to Understand the Influence of Sports in the United States


Sports have an outsized presence in American culture. Last year, the US sports industry generated $57 billion. Even with declining television audiences, nearly a third of the country watched live sporting events. As a result, spectator sports have expanded beyond just entertainment to become a massively lucrative industry. They cut across all demographics, regions, and classes. Here are 40 maps and charts to understand the vast influence of sports in the United States.

Football: Football, also known as association or soccer, is the world’s most popular ball sport. The game is played between two teams of eleven players, who try to score as many goals as they can. The game is usually played on a rectangular grass field, although sometimes it is played on artificial turf. The team with the most goals wins the match.

Professionalism: In 1884, the Football Association (FA) banned two clubs from playing in the top division of the league for using professional players. The practice was illegal until the following year, but by then it was common. The FA rescinded its ban, but despite the controversy, the practice was still widespread. The top divisions of several countries, including the English Premier League, featured professional players who earned huge sums. The lower divisions often featured part-time or amateur players. The top European leagues were renowned for attracting the most talented players from all over the world. The Bosman ruling removed the historical restrictions on foreign players.

The development of modern football has its origins in the nineteenth century. The English public school system, also known as fee-paying schools, was influential in turning the game from a traditional game to an organized team sport. The development of modern football is closely linked with the industrialization of the country. Working-class inhabitants found themselves with fewer free time, and football provided a new way to pass the time.