Most people in the U.S. are interested in various sports. With the exception of the Olympics, almost all the sports in the U.S. are played domestically. Again, the U.S. is “the world” for most Americans. Several of the most popular sports were invented in the U.S.
Whenever you switch on your TV, there is typically a sporting event being televised. Many sports are played throughout the year, e.g., baseball season earlier in the year and football season in the fall and winter. As such, many people are engaged in watching sports over the weekends. Just like many other things, the timing of games is scheduled over the weekend and in the evenings, so work is minimally affected. Many big matches are on Sunday. If there are any matches during the weekdays, they start in the evening after work.
There are many stadiums and avenues in which to watch live games. However, if it is a major game, you must purchase tickets in advance, as they are quickly sold out.
Baseball is an Americanized version of cricket. It is elegant and leisurely, just like cricket. Tension builds up slowly but steadily. Baseball season is from April to October. Baseball is played in an enclosed field.
It’s a game between two teams, where the objective is to win by scoring more runs than the opponent at the end of the game. Each team has a starting line-up of nine players, substitutions are allowed, but the player that is being replaced may not reenter the game. A regulation game consists of nine innings in Major League Baseball (MLB). The visiting team bats in the first half of each inning called the “top of the inning.” The home team bats in the second half of each inning called the “bottom of the inning.” An inning continues until the defense gets three outs. There is no time regulation for an inning. If the game is tied in the ninth inning, it goes into “extra innings” and continues until one team holds a lead at the end of an inning.
To score a run, a base runner needs to touch all four bases, in the sequence of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and finally home base. A batter hits the ball into play and then runs counterclockwise in the above base sequence. The batter tries to reach base either by a hitting the ball or getting walked. A hit occurs when the player hits the ball into the field of play and reaches 1st base before the defense throws the ball to the base, or gets an extra base (2nd, 3rd, or home) before being tagged out. Base runners are safe as long as they touch a base; only one runner is allowed on a base at a time. The granddaddy of all hits is a homerun, which means the batter hit the ball over the outfield wall. If the pitcher throws four balls out of the batter’s strike zone, a walk occurs and the player is granted a free passage to first base.
On defense, each time a player is at bat, the pitcher can cause the batter to be out by throwing three strikes, called a strikeout. If the batter hits a pitch, the defense has many ways to make an out. The defense can create a force out by throwing the ball to 1st base before the batter reaches the base, tag out by tagging the base runner while he is not standing on a base, or fly out by catching the ball in the air before it has touched the ground.
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American football was derived from the European games of rugby and soccer (futbol). Unlike the game of soccer, however, American football focuses more on passing and catching the ball with the hands as opposed to kicking the ball with the feet. American football is quickly becoming more popular than baseball, and the fan bases are increasing rapidly. Football is considered a “full contact sport” because of the extreme physical beating the players take on a weekly basis, both in practices and games. Because of the constant full body contact with opposing players and the ground, players wear protective equipment to minimize injuries. Despite these precautions, however, player injuries are very common and, in some cases, have resulted in career-ending surgeries.
The standard American football field is 120 yards in length and 160 feet in width. There are hash marks every yard and every ten yards. On each end of the field (the first and last 10 yards) is an “end zone” with an upright consisting of two vertical yellow poles connecting by one horizontal yellow pole. The game is 60 minutes long and is divided into four 15-minute quarters. After the first two quarters, there is a “halftime,” which is a break in the game. The object of the game is to score more points than your opponent in the allotted 60 minutes. Teams may score by either getting the ball into their opponent’s end zone for a 6-point touchdown, or they may score by kicking the ball between the yellow uprights (described above) for a 3-point field goal.
Each team has eleven players on the field at one time with substitutions permitted at any time. The offensive team starts with the ball at the beginning of the game. Which team starts first as offense is decided by a coin flip prior to the game. The team that is on offense will have four attempts (“downs”) to move the ball ten yards. If they are successful, the team will receive a new set of downs to try and move another ten yards. Teams may either throw the ball down the field for yardage or simply hand it off to another player to try to gain yards by running down the field. A play (down) is over when a player with the ball is either tackled, runs out of bounds, or there is an incomplete pass. If a team is not successful in getting 10 yards in their 4 attempts, the opposing team will take over on offense from that spot on the field. In most cases, if the team on offense has used three of their attempts and has not gained the 10 yards, they will most likely opt to punt the ball as far down the field as possible, so the opposing team starts on offense further away from their end zone.
Penalties are a huge part of every football game. Penalties can include things such as offsides, personal fouls, delays of game, and pass interferences. Referees strictly enforce the rules and are responsible for running a clean game, controlling the clock, and ensuring the players’ safety. Penalties are a huge part of the game because a team that commits a penalty will lose yardage and/or downs. To declare that a penalty has been committed, the referee throws a yellow penalty flag onto the field.
For more information on American Football, please click the official website of the National Football League (NFL).
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Dr. James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. It was originally played between raised peach baskets placed on opposite ends of a court. Basketball can be played on indoor or outdoor courts. Height and speed play a big role in this brilliant, unpredictable game, one of the most popular spectator sports in the U.S. Most players are 6 to 7 feet tall. The National Basketball League (NBA) holds games in indoor arenas across the U.S. It’s a fast-paced, jaw-dropping sport, especially when a player performs an acrobatic dunk.
A game is divided into either four 12-minute quarters (professional) or two 16-minute halves (college). There is also a shot clock, ranging from 24 to 35 seconds. The shot clock is the amount of time the offense has to shoot the ball in each possession. The player can’t advance with the ball without dribbling it. The objective of the game is to outscore the opponent. To score a point, a player has to shoot or dunk the ball through the hoop. The scoring breaks down as follows: a free throw is awarded after certain fouls and is worth one point as an unguarded shot from the free throw line, a field goal is worth two points and is within the boundary of the three-point line, and a three-pointer is beyond the three-point line.
The team on defense tries to prevent the offensive team from scoring. They may steal the ball, or, if the other team misses the shot, they can rebound the ball and take over possession. Like football, referees call fouls in this game. Instead of throwing a flag, they blow a whistle, which momentarily stops gameplay.
Hockey is the fastest game in the world, with the possible exception of jai-alai (now very popular in the eastern states). It is also rather tainted with show business, but the fistfights you see on the rink are by no means simulated. There are bone-jarring slap shots, acrobatic goaltending, and players zooming up and down on the ice at lightning paces. It’s not as popular as other American sports. For one reason, it requires cold enough weather to freeze a pond or lake, or an accessible hockey rink. Another reason for the low popularity is that in the 2004-2005 season, the National Hockey League (NHL) had a labor strike between the players and owners, which canceled the season. Slowly, the fans are coming back to the game.
Hockey is played on an ice rink 200′ long and 85′ wide, with rounded corners. Surrounding the rink is a protective glass, shielding the spectators and bench players from airborne hockey pucks. The ice surface has painted lines on it, which indicate face-off circles, the goal crease, and the various zones. Teams have six players on the ice (forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders), unless a team is shorthanded due to a penalty. Players that receive certain penalties have to spend time in the penalty box, giving the other team more players on the ice. The objective is to score more goals than your opponent by getting more pucks in the opposing net. Each game consists of three 20-minute periods, with an intermission in between. Player uniforms consist of ice skates, helmets, sweaters, short pants, and stockings.
Hockey referees are the most athletically fit, as compared to refs in other sports. They are constantly skating up and down the ice managing a fair game.
Many indoor games like Bowling, Aggravation, Mastermind, Dominos, etc., are played by families and friends across the nation.
Other sports widely popular in Northern America are horse racing (541 race tracks nationwide), golf, tennis, yachting, and auto sports. The latter includes such bizarre variations as drag racing, stock car derbies, and cross-country “jeep-ins,” as well as classic tournaments like the Sebring, the Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, NY, and the legendary Indianapolis 500.
Sporting equipment, from tennis rackets to yachts, can easily be rented in most American cities. Tennis courts and golf courses are often available at nominal charges in city and state parks. National parks also offer magnificent opportunities to hikers, skiers, riders, and fishermen.
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