Sport in the USA
Americans are sports crazy – but they don't play the same sports as the rest of the English-speaking world (apart from Canada). The two most popular sports in the US are American football and baseball, with basketball and ice hockey next in line. What the rest of the world calls football the Americans call soccer – and it's a minority interest. Hardly anyone plays or follows cricket or either of the rugby codes.
You can catch sport on television, of course, but nothing beats actually being at a match. The biggest cities all have a full range of professional sports teams, and many play in stadiums that are state-of-the-art. Sport is generally a good-humoured business in the US: there is no violent rivalry of the kind that mars some European and south American football.
Professional American football is organised through the National Football League. The season lasts from mid-August until the first week of February. The NFL is split into two 16-team conferences, which each send six teams into play-offs from which two emerge to contest the Super Bowl – America's biggest single sporting event.
Professional baseball is organised through Major League Baseball. The season lasts from April until October. There are two leagues, the American League and the National League, and the season culminates in the World Series every October, when the winners of the two leagues battle it out.
Professional basketball is organised through the National Basketball Association. Its league has 30 teams and the season lasts from October to June.
The main professional ice hockey league is the National Hockey League, in which 30 teams (six of them from Canada) compete during the winter months.