The 11 Most Popular Field Sports Played in the US

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The 11 Most Popular Field Sports Played in the US

Originally posted on October 15, 2022

Loads of high school sports capture hearts, both on the field and in the stands. Every year, over 8 million student-athletes dive headfirst into the thrill of competition. From the excitement of football to the crack of the bat in baseball, we’ve got the scoop on 11 of America’s favorite sports on the field.

1) Football (Boys)

The thrill of high school football is something most American teens understand. The sport attracts over a million participants and has the most common events with Friday night high school football. It is specifically male-dominated and the most popular among their teen groups.

2) Cheerleading / Competitive Spirit Squads

Cheerleading is another popular high school sport in the US for girls. The sport is extremely popular during fall in states like Washington, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Competitions for this sport involve two teams performing a 2-and-a-half-minute routine with music that includes tumbling, jumps, and stunts. Besides the usual cheerleading squads you see during sports, the cheerleading teams will compete for a prize, and the performance is judged according to the level of execution and difficulty.

3) Soccer

Soccer is a popular high school sport for both boys and girls. The high school soccer season is one of the most exciting periods of the year. In most states in the US, the soccer season starts during fall, while others have it in winter or spring. Despite originating from European tradition and origins, soccer has increasingly become popular in the States, especially among the younger generation. The United States currently has about 3.9 million youth soccer players, higher than any other country in the world.

4) Lacrosse

Lacrosse is only sanctioned in 22 states but is played in almost every state and has been one of the fastest-growing sports at the high school level in the last few decades. USA lacrosse supports younger high school athletes via scholastic programs and working with the nation’s local community and club programs. It is a common sport in spring for boys and girls.

5) Baseball (Boys)

Baseball is a male-dominated high school sport. Recognized as an American pastime, most people play it to stay connected to their history and their family history. Baseball is popular in high school as teens from all backgrounds enjoy it in the sense of memory, as fathers have passed it down to their sons for generations. The sport is played in spring and is popular in states like Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, California, and Alabama.

6) Cross Country

Cross country attracts approximately 440,000 high school students yearly. It is the sixth most popular sport for girls and the seventh most popular among boys. It usually takes place in the fall, and California’s Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) in Walnut hosts the largest cross-country invitation in the US. Other states with the highest participation are Texas and Pennsylvania.

7) Field Hockey

Field hockey is one of the sports that are regionally centered in the US. The most enthusiastic support and popularity come from Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, and California. Pennsylvania and New Jersey have the best programs for field hockey in the country, though states like Delaware and Maryland are starting to grow their field hockey prowess.

8) Flag Football (Girls)

Flag football is a high school girls’ sport similar to American football. The main difference is that American football involves much tackling, while flag football has few to no tackles. The sport is already sanctioned in states like Nevada and Alabama. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics added it as a collegiate sport in colleges in states like Kansas, Georgia, Florida, and elsewhere fielding teams.

9) Softball (Girls)

Fast-pitch softball is a female-dominated sport majorly played in the spring. Softball has increasingly become popular in the US in states like California, especially Southern California. The state has the most programs, with 21 NCAA Division I and over 130 collegiate programs. High school girls are increasingly joining this sport to enjoy its potential opportunities. Over 1600 schools across the US provide softball scholarships, and talented athletes have part of their college tuition paid straight from high school.

10) Slow Pitch Softball (Girls)

Slow-pitch softball is a slower-paced version of fast-pitch softball. The main difference lies in the motion of pitchers. In a slow pitch, the pitcher does not have to make an arc, while in a fast pitch, the pitcher should make a windmill motion. Technically, it is one of the most iconic and fun team sports in high school today. It has become extremely popular as it allows gameplay with diverse participants. Although slow-pitch softball has not been included as a collegiate sport, several high schools in various states, like Oklahoma, are gradually including it in their athletics programs.

11) Track & Field

Track and field is an intense sport that needs hard work and dedication. Most athletes get their first exposure in high school, and the sport has the highest number of participants than any other sport in high school. The sport is popular in spring and attracts over 1.5 million participants yearly. Due to the high level of professionalism in American schools, the competition in track and field is very high. Participants usually have to train for more hours than in other regular sports.

Reasons to Join High School Sports Team

Sports teams are a great extracurricular activity, especially for teens who are still growing up. Joining any team sports in high schools offers various benefits like:

  • A great way to make friends: The sports team brings together different people from various backgrounds. Joining a new group and working together as a team is a great way to make friends with people you may not have met.
  • Presents opportunities to learn leadership skills: Team leaders like captains learn valuable leadership skills in the course of playing. The skills they learn are applicable in real-life leadership scenarios.
  • Helps stay active and avoid stress: High school can be stressful. Luckily, playing sports is a great stress reliever and makes you happier.
  • Depending on your skills and goals, it can get you into college: If you rise and become a top player in your team, there is a high chance of getting recruited to college and a scholarship. This is not always the norm, but a lot of students have gotten into college due to sports.

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