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Sports and Americans: A Perfect Fit

Many popular sports are homegrown

Softball, soccer, swimming, track. Name just about any sport, and you'll find kids—and adults—participating in it. Some of us are fair weather athletes, and others of us lace on the sneaks year-round.

Did you know that many of the sports played across the country, and indeed, around the world, got their start in the United States? Americans have a rich history in developing and popularizing many sports and activities now played worldwide.


Baseball is the granddaddy of American pastimes. The exact place and time of the origin of baseball as we know it today are unknown, and still hotly debated. Sacks, or bases, replaced stakes in the 1840s, giving this indigenous game the name and look we recognize.


This game was invented in 1891 in Massachusetts by a Canadian clergyman and teacher. It was created to be vigorous recreation suitable for indoor winter play. The first ball used was a soccer ball.


A form of football was played in the Virginia colony in 1609 using a blown-up bladder. In 1869, Rutgers and Princeton universities played a crude form of the game that more resembled soccer than football. The first professional football game in the United States was played in 1892.

In-line skating

This sport was developed in the 1980s by a group of hockey players in Minnesota who were looking for a way to train during the off-season. It's now one of the fastest-growing activities in the nation.


This sport was played in North America long before the continent got its name. It was first used as training for warfare by the Indians who lived in what's now the United States and Canada.

Little League Baseball

Organized baseball for girls and boys ages 9 to 12, Little League was developed in 1939 in Williamsport, PA. It's now played around the world.


Developed in 1950 out of a combination of squash and handball, this sport has been popular since the late 1970s.


Displaying skills at riding and roping cattle and horses has been a popular American sport since the first formal rodeo contest was held in Cheyenne, WY, in 1872.


This sport was invented at the start of the 20th century by American professional baseball players who wanted to keep in shape during the off-season. Softball interest began in the United States about 1930. The first national amateur softball tournament took place in Chicago in 1933.


This popular team sport was invented in 1895 by a YMCA physical education director in Massachusetts. It was originally called Mintonette and has become a favorite around the world and on many beaches.