is a sport that is beloved by the world, with countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America all being passionate about it. But the United States has not shared the same passion for rugby, instead focusing on other sports. One such sport Americans have poured their passion into instead of rugby has been American football, which continues to be more popular than rugby. But why exactly is that the case?
Football: An American institution
While American football is not all that popular around the globe, it is unquestionably more popular than rugby in the United States. But it is not just rugby that American football has dwarfed in popularity, it is the rest of the sports landscape in America as well. The majority of the most-viewed television programs in America each year are individual football games, as the excitement of the NFL has become as synonymous with the United States as apple pie.
A big reason for that enthusiasm for football in America has been gambling. From fantasy football to outright American football, the excitement of betting and winning money at operators like William Hill NJ has become ingrained in the gameday experience for American sports fans. And thanks to fantasy football, fans tend to have a more in-depth knowledge of the rosters of American football teams than they do the smaller rosters in other sports.
Another important reason that American football remains more popular than rugby specifically is the fact that the rules are consistent in American football as compared to rugby. While there is no shortage of drama surrounding officials in American football, there is typically one set of rules to be aware of. Comparatively speaking, rugby has different rules between certain leagues and international rugby competitions. That makes it more difficult to get into rugby as a casual fan.
Finally, the culmination of the football season in the Super Bowl is a massive reason for the overall popularity of the sport. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest party days in America each year, as hundreds of millions of people gather with their friends and family, even if they aren’t fans of sport. Even the World Cup in rugby does not carry that kind of clout, which could help explain the popularity gap.
Causes for optimism
While rugby does lag behind American football in terms of popularity, that does not mean that there are no reasons for rugby enthusiasts to feel optimistic about the future of their game in the states. Rugby is America’s fastest growing sport at the moment, with more Americans becoming fans of the game and more eyeballs being exposed to what it has to offer on a regular basis.
One of the big reasons for that growth has been the carrying of rugby on several major television networks. Club competitions and international events have both been broadcast on cable channels for years, now, normalizing rugby as a sport that is on par with soccer and other popular sports that are broadcast internationally.
And the United States’ performance in the sport has been important, too. While USA rugby has a long way to go to compete with the likes of South Africa, England, and New Zealand, the Americans have made some inroads toward being competitive in some competitions. The Sevens World Series, for example, has been a competition where Americans have played incredibly well, even winning some of the events its schedule against some of the best rugby playing nations on the planet.
At the end of the day, it is worth noting that American football is more popular than every sport in the United States, not just rugby. But as long as rugby continues to grow there, the future will continue to be bright for the health of the sport in America and abroad.