The US has a somewhat unique approach when it comes to sport. The high-school, college and pro levels you see in football and basketball are practically unheard of outside the country, where sport is built from grass roots and eventually evolves into a commercial enterprise. We have also been less accepting of foreign sports than other nations have, which is why these hugely popular sports are barely even known in the United States.
The economy in America can benefit greatly from the integration of these valuable sports, which can spur career opportunities for the talent and business-minded people alike. With fresh categories of sport, new ventures can launch that pertain to the activity, whether marketing companies, talent acquisition firms, equipment manufacturing businesses, and other related potential startups. The following sports would be sure to make a lucrative splash if popularized in the fifty states:
Cricket is played by more than 120 million people around the world. That’s more than a third of the population of the United Sates, yet many Americans have no idea what this sport is or how it is played.
Cricket can be seen as a slower form of baseball. The bats are much heavier, the balls are considerably tougher (despite the padding the player’s wear, these balls have been known to kill professional players) and there is a points system based on back-and-forth runs and boundary hits (akin to home runs).
Cricket is big in England, but it is the number 1 sport in India, Pakistan and several other countries. In fact, if we base it solely on the number of players and fans, it is the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer. But cricket in the United States is a no ball.
High schools are getting kids into rugby, but it hasn’t really evolved like it has in other countries. You’d think that we would be quick on the uptake considering it is an aggressive game like football, but that hasn’t been the case.
Ruby is fast, free-flowing and brutal. It’s tough enough to make football players wince, but it’s also a game of great skill. Rugby is hugely popular all over the world. It is the national sport in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and much of Northern Europe and it is also big in Japan, Argentina and many other countries. In the US, we have a good Rugby Sevens team (a quicker, less brutal and much shorter version of the game) and we have been taking to this game in the last few years, but for generations it has been virtually ignored.
3. Football Alternatives
If you have never heard of Aussie Rules or Gaelic Football then you’re missing out, but you’re also like many other Americans who have let these sports slip them by. They are only really popular in Ireland and Australia respectively, but in those countries they are huge.
They are also really fun. Gaelic Football combines elements of soccer and rugby with a little basketball thrown in, while Aussie Rules is like a rough-and-tumble mix of rugby, soccer and those moments in Ice Hockey games when everything erupts into a slug fest.
This is a contact sport that is popular in South Asia. It’s hard to compare it to anything that Americans know and enjoy, except to say that it is like a professional game of tag, or Dodgeball…but without the ball. The field of play is small and bisected in the middle with one team either side.
The goal is to get over to the other side and “Tag” an opposing team member without being tackled. It’s like a playground game come to life and it’s great fun to watch and to play. If you want to see this for yourself, tune into the Pro Kabaddi League, where the best teams and players compete at the highest level.
Despite being an Olympic event and having a huge following in Scandinavia and across most of Europe, few Americans seem to have heard of handball, which is also known as Team Handball.
It is played on a small court with a small ball that is held in one hand. The goal is to pass the ball to teammates and to eventually get it into the opponent’s goal. It’s not unlike a game of basketball, but with the end goal being a net like the sort you will find in five-a-side soccer as opposed to a basket.
If you happen to have the experience, starting a sports business focused on one of these sports could be a great opportunity. It could be a unique way to attract curious people who wish to familiarize themselves in an uncommon activity. You never know! The business could start a trend that spreads like wildfire and leads to more cricket or handball fans right here in America.
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