Everyone has heard of the NFL, MLB and NBA. You are also probably familiar with the leading hockey and soccer leagues. But there are many other leagues that you might not be so familiar with, ones that don’t generate as much money or prestige, but are still worthy of your respect.
United States Australian Football League
Australian Rules Football is like a cross between rugby, football and soccer. It is played on a huge pitch and it uses tackles and kicks like rugby, but the goal is to bisect two large posts in order to score (or to get it through the point posts nearby, which score less). It’s a fun game to watch, there are fans all over the world and the guys that play are incredibly strong, fit and not averse to beating each other up. In fact, I watch a lot of AFL myself all the way over here in the UK, but I was just as surprised as you will probably be to learn that there is an Australian football league in the US where this game has been played since 1996.
There are thousands of players registered and there are 37 men’s teams and 13 women’s teams, the most successful of which are the Denver Bulldogs. The teams are based throughout the United States, from the Suns in Sacramento, California, to the Magpies in New York. There are also Canadian teams from Calgary and Quebec.
Major Arena Soccer League
The MASL was founded in 2008 and features teams from the United States and Mexico. Teams have come and gone and the league has struggled to maintain consistency in this regard, but it is still active and there is plenty of room for growth. The San Diego Sockers have won the most titles and the most recent champions are the Baltimore Blast.
It is indoor soccer, which isn’t really very popular around the world, even in Europe, where soccer is the biggest sport. For European readers, think of indoor soccer as not unlike 5-a-side and Futsal and you won’t be much wrong.
Major League Lacrosse
Lacrosse is on the rise in the United States and has been for over a decade now. This coincides with the development of Major League Lacrosse, which first launched in 2001 and is still going to this day. The league has steadily expanded in that time, incorporating more teams from more regions, and giving others the chance to take the title from a rather dominant Chesapeake Bayhawks.
Major League Cricket
Cricket is huge in many parts of the world. The US isn’t one of those, but that hasn’t stopped them from creating their own league and attracting interesting from players and fans across the country. Major League Cricket was founded in the year 2000 and it has managed to maintain itself since then.
Believe it or not, there is also a national cricket team in the United Staes. They are a long way from getting Test status, which essentially would classify them as a leading cricketing nation, but they do play qualifying games for major international competitions and if the game continues to improve and grow in the country then who knows what the future will hold.
Other Leagues You’ve Never Heard Of
The United States tried to start its own Rugby league a couple years back, but it didn’t really take off and they are still trying to get interest from franchisees. There was also an Ultimate Frisbee league by the name Major League Ultimate, which ran from 2012 to 2016. If that’s not your thing then there are many Tenpin Bowling leagues still active in the US. You can check out Feel Like Strike, who have reviewed some of the best ones, to get more info.