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Sports news with a Vegas perspective.

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  • Created On:
    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
  • Last Update:
    02/01/2023 6:46 AM

5 Smaller Sports Rising in Popularity in the U.S.

5 Smaller Sports Rising in Popularity in the U.S.

We spend every Saturday and Sunday plopped in front of our couch watching football, and when that’s over, we turn our attention to the playoffs in the NHL and NBA. We ride the momentum of those playoffs into the meaty part of the MLB season to keep us entertained until September; then, we repeat the cycle. While that’s true for most sports fans, five smaller sports rising in popularity in the U.S. want a piece of the pie.


Mixed Martial Arts

Combat sports have always been a draw in this country, considering many of the biggest sporting events in American sports history happened in a boxing ring. However, boxing is starting to play second fiddle to mixed martial arts.


When we were watching Tyson bite off Holyfield’s ear, someone popped in a VHS tape of Royce Gracie fighting Ken Shamrock in a cage. Then, it seemed like the MMA was a barbaric, flash-in-the-pan sport that depended on excess violence to draw interest. Fast forward to today, and the UFC is making multi-million deals with athletes, and the sport has become a part of the mainstream conversation.


Pickleball Is the New Tennis

Pickleball is a paddle sport involving a specially constructed paddle and an enlarged plastic ball with holes similar to a Wiffle ball. The sport incorporates elements of various paddle sports, such as badminton, ping-pong, and tennis, making it the ultimate hybrid sport.


Pickleball is a terrific game for individuals of all ages and abilities, which helped cause its rapid growth. The sport has become such a catch that LeBron James owns a team, while Stephen Colbert held a celebrity-packed charity tournament for Paramount Plus. 


Lacrosse Takes Major Steps

Lacrosse has been the Schrödinger’s dog of sports in America. For decades, it’s been the “sport of the future” that would take the country by storm. While it continues to rise in popularity and inch closer to becoming mainstream, it’s still a niche sport.


In 2018, lacrosse founded a professional league (PLL) of eight teams. The summer league lasts 14 weeks, and you can watch a good portion of the matches on streaming services such as Peacock.


Adventure Racing

If you want to pretend like you’re a part of The Amazing Race, you can give adventure racing a shot. Otherwise known as expedition racing, this team sport includes navigating the desired route. These races could last a few hours to a few weeks. The most common physical activities in adventure racing are mountain biking, trekking, and paddling. But you might find a more extreme race with rock climbing or whitewater rafting.


Picking Up the Controller for Esports

Who says you need to run a 4.4 40-yard dash and have the body of a Greek god or goddess to participate in sports? Esports continues to make ground as one of America’s fastest-growing sports. With the rising popularity of video game streamers, most kids would rather become the next big Twitch streamer than play centerfield for the Yankees. With a younger, passionate demographic, the sky is the limit for esports. There’s no telling the heights they can reach since gaming is an industry with no inclination to slow down.


Sooner or later, Pregame may have its expert sports picks for five of the smaller sports rising in popularity in the U.S. Until then; we’re here to help you make the best picks on the gridiron, hardwood, diamond, and rink to put money in your pocket!

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