8 Oldest Sports In America You Should Know

Do you know the oldest sports in America? Firstly, lacrosse is the oldest, but other exciting sports were invented after it. 

America is a sport-loving nation, so it’s easy to see why every American is desperate to learn about the origin of their favorite sports. 

Some of the world’s biggest sports persons have emerged from the country. It is also home to some of the world’s biggest sporting events and teams. 

In this post, we will discuss the oldest sports in the United States of America and provide important information about each sport. Let’s dive into it. 

1: Lacrosse:

Invented in 1636, Lacrosse remains America’s first homegrown sport. Williams George Beers created it.  

Lacrosse is a combination of different sports. It features football’s speed and agility, including ice hockey’s defense and five-person attack. 

The game is played in a field measuring 60 yards in width and 110 yards in length. And you’ll find two goalposts on each side of the field which measures 6 feet by 6 feet.  

Is Lacrosse a contact sport? Yes, it is. It is also played using a small rubber ball. Two teams with ten players on each side play the game using sticks. The primary use of the sticks is to defend and attack. 

In addition to the United States of America, several countries like Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago play Lacrosse. However, it is most popular in the United States of America. 

Handy Tip: The name “Lacrosse” was coined uniquely. French missionaries first used the name. 

The missionaries came to Quebec in the 1600s, where they spotted some Native Americans playing a particular sport. They called the sport “Lacrosse” because the sticks the Natives used resembled the bishops’ cross usually transported when conducting religious rites. 

Players also uniquely prepare for the sport. They paint their bodies and faces. 

Ten players on each side play Lacrosse, making it twenty in total. Each team features three defenders, three midfielders, three attackers, and a goalkeeper. 

The Lacrosse women’s sport differs slightly from the men’s sport. While it’s considered non-contact in the women’s division, it’s a contact sport in the men’s division. 

In the men’s division, there are ten players on each team. In the women’s, there are a total of 12 players.  

2: American Football (Rugby): 

American football is another old sport in the country, shaped by Walter Camp. In addition to American football, Gridiron is another name for the sport. It features eleven players on each team, making it twenty-two players as a whole.   

American football is the most popular sport in North America. Furthermore, it’s played on a rectangular field featuring two goalposts on each side. 

The first American football match took place in New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America. It was between Princeton vs. Rutgers and played on November 6, 1969. 

American football is the most popular sport in the United States of America. In other words, it’s the country’s number-one sport and has the highest broadcast viewership.

The popularity and importance of this sport in America is apparent in its annual revenue. It generates around $15 billion annually, making it the world’s most valuable league. 

Professional and college football are the game’s two most popular forms. Others include high school and youth football. Over a million high school students play American football annually. 

Walter Camp remains the most notable American football player in the game’s history. He played for Yale University for three years and was blessed with great speed and agility. 

Walter influenced the game massively. He even invented several rules which are still in use today. He created the forward pass rule, fair catch kick rule, delayed scrimmage kick rule, tackle rule, and center jump snap. 

Several people made contributions that shaped American football, but Walter’s remained the most notable contributions. He’s called the “Father of American Football” because of how he influenced the game. 

In addition to several rules, Walter created the quarterback position and decided the game would have eleven players. 

A Handy Tip: Each team plays sixteen (16) games in American football. Additionally, teams get a week off at some point in the season.

Every game is an event in American football, indicating how popular the sport is in America. College football teams play games on Saturday. Even the professional teams play on Sunday, so that people will be at home to cheer their teams and eventually partake in parties after games. 

3. Softball:  

Invented in 1887 by George Hancock, softball is another popular sport in the United States of America and several countries. It has a relatively impressive global appeal, though its first match took place in the United States of America 137 years ago. That is, in 1887, and precisely in Chicago.

Several nations actively participate in the sport and have made it their own. In addition to the United States, New Zealand, China, Japan, and Canada are the other countries that play softball. 

Softball is also known as mushball, indoor baseball, or kitten ball. It got the name “softball” in the 1920s. However, the sport started taking shape in 1933 following the establishment of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA).

Softball is not baseball. Instead, it’s a descendant of baseball. Unlike baseball, it is played on a small field. The balls used happen to be bigger than baseballs.’

 This sport is played competitively at club, college, and professional levels. The first international softball competition for junior men and women occurred in 1981. 

A Handy Tip: A notable difference between softball and baseball is how the ball is thrown at the hitter. In baseball, the pitcher throws the ball overhand, releasing it over the shoulder. 

In softball, the reverse is the case. The pitch is thrown underhand, while the ball is released at the pitcher’s hip.

Two teams also play softball, with nine players on each side. 

4: Basketball:

With 30.8 million TV viewers recorded since 2010, basketball stands as one of the most popular sports in the United States of America. 11 percent of Americans consider basketball as their favorite sport; while 36 percent see themselves as basketball fans. 

When was basketball invented, and who brought the game to the United States of America? 30-year-old James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. It is a team sport occasionally played by two teams comprising five players. 

As a team sport, basketball teaches how to be a good team player. It is also an incredibly social sport, offering many benefits to the player’s mental health and general wellbeing.

James Naismith built the first-ever basketball court in 1891. He was an instructor with a job at Springfield College, Massachusetts. 

Basketball became popular in the United States of America in the 1900s. It became a sport of choice for college and high school students back then.

A Handy Tip: Basketball’s suggested name was “Naismith Ball.” Perhaps this would have been its name had James Naismith, the inventor, not rejected it. 

Naismith thought calling the game “Naismith Ball” would kill it before it became popular. Luckily, Mahan suggested the name “Basketball.” 

Dr. Naismith approved of the name. He said, “We have a basket and a ball, so it seems that this would be a great name.” 

James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor and Springfield Alumnus, is also credited with creating basketball’s original thirteen rules. 

Basketball involves elements of several sports, such as soccer, American football, and hockey. It will interest you to know also that dribbling wasn’t part of the first basketball game. Players just had to pass the ball around once they caught it. 

5: Volleyball

Volleyball is a team sport invented in 1895. The first volleyball game took place in 1895. The sport features two teams of six players, with a net separating both teams. Players try to score points by grounding the ball on the other team’s side of the field. 

An increasing number of high school and college students (boys and girls) play volleyball. High school volleyball keeps increasing yearly, making it the fastest-growing sport in the country for high school students. 

Volleyball is the fifth most-watched sport globally, with 900 million fans worldwide. For better understanding, soccer, the most-watched sport in the world, has 3.5 billion fans. 

Who invented volleyball? William G. Morgan invented the sport. The first volleyball game took place in Holyoke, Massachusetts, United States of America in 1895. 

The FIVB boasts over 200 associated national federations, making it the world’s largest international athletic association. The most prosperous teams in this sport include Brazil, the United States of America, Russia, China, and Poland. 

However, recent data shows Turkiye’s female volleyball team leads in the number of points acquired, followed by the United States of America, Brazil, and Serbia. 

Volleyball is popular in the Asian continent. The “Brown Rules,” which calls for using 16 players per team, has been in full swing in Asia. The reason for this many players per team is to encourage the participation of more players. 

6: Baseball:

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport invented in 1908 by Abner Doubleday. The game is played uniquely. One player on a team throws a small ball at a player in another team who hits the ball using a bat. And the player that hits the ball has to run around the field. 

Baseball is played by two teams, with nine players on each team. The game is played in a field with four bases and laid out in a diamond shape. 

Like every other sport, baseball features rules that can confuse beginners. For instance, it features two types of strikes: foul tips and foul balls. 

In this sport, the primary goal is for players to score runs. Players must run around the field after hitting the ball while preventing the other player from doing so. The team that records the most runs at the end of nine innings emerges as the winner. 

Besides the United States of America, baseball is popular in several countries. It is played in 75 countries, so it’s a popular sport, though not as popular as soccer. 

The top baseball-playing countries include the following:

  • The United States of America
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • Japan
  • South Korea

Baseball is one of the top sports in the United States, and its number of fans proves this. There are over 170 million baseball fans in the United States of America. Canada is another country that treasures baseball and boasts over 10 million fans. 

A Handy Tip: Did you know that Major League Baseball (MLB) in America recorded an average of 96,000 views per game in 2022?

7: Skateboarding:

Skateboarding is not just an action sport. It is considered an art, a form of entertainment, and a recreational activity. People also use skateboards as a means of transportation. 

Bill Richards invented skateboarding in the 1950s. California, the United States of America, is considered the birthplace of this unique sport called skateboarding. 

The origin of skateboards remains an interesting story and mystery. However, there are claims that surfers seeking something to do when the waves were small invented the sport. 

Skateboarding became popular in the United States around 1963 and still exists today. The skateboard used over the years has undergone several transformations to become what it is today. 

The skateboard’s transformation has made the sport and recreational activity more fun and safe. The contoured wheel made skating on an imperfect surface much more effortless. 

Who is skateboarding ideal for? Anyone can participate in skateboarding, as there is no age restriction. However, it is essential to evaluate your fitness and stability before you climb on a skateboard. 

Get the proper safety equipment before skating to reduce your risk of sustaining an injury. Safety equipment like helmets, knees, and elbow guards are vital. Endeavor to check your skateboard and ensure it is in good shape before you start skating. 

A Handy Tip:  Skateboarding boasts numerous tricks that can make a crowd of people watching you go wild. However, we advise you to attempt only tricks you are familiar with.

Is skateboarding ideal for children? Yes, it is. Ensure your kids wear suitable protective gear (helmet, knees, and elbow guard) before you let them skate. 

Since California is the birthplace of skateboarding, you’ll find over half of America’s skateboarders there.  

Top 9 best countries for skateboarding

  • The United States of America
  • Spain, Barcelona
  • Japan
  • England
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • China
  • Denmark

You can find special skateparks in most countries. 

8: Snowboarding:    

Snowboarding was invented in 1965 by Sherman Poppen. It is a recreational activity that involves descending a snow-covered surface while the individual is standing on a snowboard. 

The first snowboard was in Muskegon, Michigan, United States of America. Furthermore, the equipment needed for this recreational activity includes the snowboard, binding, and boot. 

Snowboarding is a winter sport. You’ll find plenty of snow during the winter period. The game was developed when Americans sought new activities to engage in during winter.

The sport’s popularity has increased over the years thanks to the interest shown by various businesses and individuals. Tons of snowboards have been produced and improved to make the sport more enjoyable.  

The sport even attracted surfers and skateboarders and trended in the country around 1980. The first snowboard national championship was organized in 1982, while the first global championships were in 1983. 

 A Handy Tip: Snowsports can be a great way to self-care. They can boost your mood and help fight anxiety. Snowboarding is a vital cardiovascular activity, helping to build cardiac muscles. 

Snowboarding can also help you to burn fat and lose weight. It can improve your mental health balance and increase your longevity. 


These are the oldest sports in America. Some of these sports were established over a century ago in America and spread to other parts of the world.

In addition to being a recreational activity and providing career opportunities for participants, sports can have massive health benefits. Engaging in sporting activities can help you lose weight, improve your balance, including mental health, and stay fit. 

While discussing the oldest sports in the United States, we mentioned the years and people who invented them. It is only proper that sports lovers worldwide get themselves acquainted with the history of their favorite sports.  

Francis Stein
Francis Stein
Francis Stein is a writer and traveler who has already traveled most of the states of America. He loves to explore new places and meet new people, and he hopes to continue traveling the world in search of adventure. Francis enjoys writing about his experiences as a way of sharing his love for exploration with others.


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