Why did baseball become more popular than cricket in the USA?

Why did baseball become more popular than cricket in the USA?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Recently I started reading a very interesting comic about high school baseball. I found that baseball shares so many similarities with Cricket. So I tried to look for some information regarding the origins of both the games. I found that both games originated in England. But there is no information about which game was invented first. Is there any source to tell which game was invented first and when? The bigger question why baseball became so popular in USA and not cricket. Also, if at all baseball was invented in England, why was it never promoted by English in their colonies (like the way they promoted cricket)?

First, there is a really good book on the origins of baseball -- Baseball Before We Knew It, by David Block. If you have an interest in the topic I highly recommend it.

It is not so much that one of the two games was invented first, but more likely that they both developed from the same source -- which, Block argues pretty persuasively, was not at all rounders, but probably a folk game such as stool ball (which also made it to America -- we know it was played at Plymouth in the 17th Century by some non-Puritans who got in some trouble for it!).

As that indicates, the English brought their games with them. I don't think it's a matter of "promoting" one game or the other… sometimes something will catch on and others won't. In the case of baseball, after a while there was clearly a certain patriotic interest in supporting a game thought to be "home-grown." But cricket was very popular in the US at times as well. The Wikipedia page about the history of United States Cricket suggests that baseball picked up some popularity during the Civil War because it did not require the same kind of carefully-prepared pitch as cricket.

I wouldn't agree that "the game of baseball (similar to the one we know) would not have existed during the colonial times and would not have been promoted anyway," but perhaps this is just a semantic quibble. Baseball existed in colonial times, as we can see from the 1744 reference in A Little Pretty Pocket Book, which was published in both England and, a few years later, in America. It didn't have the Knickerbocker rules yet, but I think it's fair to call it baseball.

One more thing -- the Protoball Chronology is a fascinating work in progress collecting historical references to "safe haven" ball games including cricket, baseball, stool ball, etc. Anyone curious about the origins of these games should check it out.

Short Answer: Cricket was surprisingly popular in the United States through the entire 19th century. However, baseball was backed and promoted by dynamic marketers like A.G. Spalding. Baseball came to be associated with all-American manly athleticism, while cricket came to be associated with snobbish aristocrats with English pretensions.

Sociologists Jason Kaufman and Orlando Patterson have an article that answers this exact question, so I'll let them explain.

Baseball and cricket were both very popular in the 19th century

Cricket was popular in the US until well after the Civil War. The world's first official international cricket match took place between American and Canadian teams in 1844.

While the increasing popularity of baseball did present a formidable challenge to American cricket, the two games existed comfortably side-by-side throughout the 1850s and 60s. It was not uncommon, in fact, for cricket and baseball teams to challenge one another to matches in their rival's sport.

The wealthy began to value Cricket for its English pedigree

Though cricket was originally popularized in the United States by working-class immigrants from the British Isles, it later became a sport practiced by only a select few Americans… The most distinctive feature of the history of cricket in both the United States and Canada is its elevation to a pastime for elites only.

Savvy marketers promoted baseball

However much Americans enjoyed playing cricket, the sport never developed the kind of infrastructure that leads to a mass fan base: frequent matches with large crowds and intense rivalries. Baseball, however

… was later blessed by a cadre of brilliant entrepreneurs determined to make it the “nation's pastime.” One such person was A. G. Spalding, star player, manager, league organizer, and sports manufacturer. To call Spalding an impresario or a marketing genius would be a bit of an understatement. He engaged in every part of the game, from promoting star players and intercity rivalries to squelching nascent efforts at labor organization among players.

Savvy marketers disparaged cricket as effeminate

Spalding was pretty scathing in his depiction of cricketers. He wrote in 1911:

I have declared that Cricket is a genteel game. It is. Our British Cricketer, having finished his day's labor at noon, may don his negligee shirt, his white trousers, his gorgeous hosiery and his canvas shoes, and sally forth to the field of sport, with his sweetheart on one arm and his Cricket bat under the other, knowing that he may engage in his national pastime without soiling his linen or neglecting his lady

A baseball player, on the other hand, is manly:

When he dons his Base Ball suit, he says good-bye to society, doffs his gentility, and becomes-just a Ball Player! He knows that his business now is to play ball, and that first of all he is expected to attend to business…

And just in case Spalding was too subtle above, he repeats one more time that America:England::Manly:Effeminate.

Cricket is a gentle pastime. Base Ball is War! Cricket is an Athletic Sociable, played and applauded in a conventional, decorous and English manner. Base Ball is an Athletic Turmoil, played and applauded in an unconventional, enthusiastic and American manner.

The end result? "By the eve of the First World War very few were still alive who could recall the days when cricket had a chance to become America's national pastime.”

The games of cricket and baseball are similar and can be looked at in an evolving type of way. Games similar to cricket were developed and the sport progressed as the rules and concepts changed. Over the course of hundreds of years the sport of baseball was created. To be correct Cricket may have not have even come first. See this reference to Rounders. There were other English games that went by similar rules to cricket and rounders. These games had many different names and variants.

From Origins of Baseball

Since they were folk games, the early games had no official, documented rules, and they tended to change over time. To the extent that there were rules, they were generally simple and were not written down. There were many local variations, and varied names.


Cricket can be dated back to 1550 but games very similar to cricket had been developed in the 13th century.


The following is excluding the myth that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball:

Quoted from the baseball wikipedia page:

The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. It contains a rhymed description of "base-ball" and a woodcut that shows a field set-up somewhat similar to the modern game-though in a triangular rather than diamond configuration, and with posts instead of ground-level bases. William Bray, an English lawyer, recorded a game of baseball on Easter Monday 1755 in Guildford, Surrey

Due to the fact that the first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright the game of baseball (similar to the one we know) would not have existed during the colonial times and would not have been promoted anyway.

Adoption of Cricket in America

Source (also included a great timeline of colonial cricket

The first recorded American Cricket match was in 1751 in New York and was popular among colonists before that time. However the Revolution came around and had an impact on all things British. From the timeline on the above linked page.

1800: By the time the century drew to a close, cricket's popularity was soaring. The Britishness of the game was a problem and the American Revolution had an impact on cricket - just like it did on all things British including tea and taxes.

The following statement is my own conclusion and should be regarded as such:

It would seem that America adopted baseball instead of cricket simply due to the fact that cricket was not established a "professional sport". The game continued to evolve and the many variants ended up leading to the game of baseball. By the time the evolution of the game caught up with the need/want of a professional sport baseball had the upper hand.

EDIT: Who gets credit for baseball

Also from the origins of baseball Link

Congress has credited Alexander Cartwright (An American) as the inventor of baseball and he is honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But there are plenty of myths (See the Abner Doubleday Entry, as well as this quote)

-From the origins of baseball page

Evolution of the game that became modern baseball is unknown before 1845. The Knickerbocker Rules describe a game that they had been playing for some time. But how long is uncertain and so is how that game had developed. Shane Foster was the first to come up with suspicions of how the origin came into effect.

There were once two camps. One, mostly English, asserted that baseball evolved from a game of English origin (probably rounders); the other, almost entirely American, said that baseball was an American invention (perhaps derived from the game of one-ol'-cat). Apparently they saw their positions as mutually exclusive. Some of their points seem more national loyalty than evidence: Americans tended to reject any suggestion that baseball evolved from an English game, while some English observers concluded that baseball was little more than their rounders without the round.

All in all it seems that due to the lack of evidence and the many many versions of this game it is very difficult to come to a solid conclusion.

A Brief History Of Baseball

Baseball evolved from the British game of rounders, and is a cousin to cricket in that it also involves two teams that alternate on defense and offense and involve throwing a ball to a batsman who attempts to "bat" it away and run safely to a base. The first documentation of base ball is in 1838, but there are references to a game of base ball going back to the late 1700s.

The story promoted as the “invention” of baseball by Abner Doubleday, a Civil War hero for the Union, has largely been discredited. The first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 for a New York base ball club called the Knickerbockers. The author, Alexander Joy Cartwright, is one person commonly known as "the father of baseball."

Cartwright laid out rules for playing the game for the first time and made one important change. No longer could an out be recorded by "plugging" a runner (hitting him with the ball). The rules required fielders to tag or force the runner, which is still the rule today.

Why Is Baseball America's Favorite Pastime?

Americans began playing baseball in backyards and fields throughout America in the mid-1800s but started regarding the sport as the nation's favorite pastime in the 1920s, thanks to construction of large ballparks, radio and newspaper sports coverage, and a sense of pride in regional teams. The sport soon became popular in cities and rural areas alike. It also began attracting Americans of all demographics.

In 1941, Joe DiMaggio captured the nation's attention with the longest hitting streak in history at 56 games. During World War II, baseball promoters recruited women to play in place of men on professional teams. Once the war ended, and men returned to the field, Jackie Robinson became the highest-profile African-American pro ball player during his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Modern sports commentators attribute baseball's popularity to its live audiences. According to the "Atlantic," while most NFL fans never watch a game in person, baseball fans make regular trips to the ballpark to watch their regional team play.

Another reason baseball appeals to so many Americans is that it is easily played by people of all ages and both genders. Children start with T-ball and peewee baseball. There are senior citizen baseball leagues throughout the country as well.

Tom Brady vs. Mike Trout

A major concern for baseball is the meager national profiles of its stars. By nearly any measure, pro football and pro basketball players outpace baseball players in national popularity.

According to YouGov’s ratings of active sports personalities, 91 percent of Americans have heard of LeBron James and 88 percent have heard of Tom Brady, but only 43 percent have heard of Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, baseball’s best player.

You don’t have to look any further than the national reach of each league’s television broadcasts to see why this may be the case.

Lack of Global Interest

The Olympic Games is about representation as much as anything—about bringing all parts of the world together under the banner of sports. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, with an estimated one billion-plus people counted as fans, but that doesn't make it a global game. Top-level international cricket is played by only a handful of nations, and many residents in ICC associate and affiliate nations would have only a passing interest at most.

National League of baseball is founded

On February 2, 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, which comes to be more commonly known as the National League (NL), is formed. The American League (AL) was established in 1901 and in 1903, the first World Series was held.

The first official game of baseball in the United States took place in June 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became America’s first professional baseball club. In 1871, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was established as the sport’s first “major league.” Five years later, in 1876, Chicago businessman William Hulbert formed the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs to replace the National Association, which he believed was mismanaged and corrupt. The National League had eight original members: the Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves), Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs), Cincinnati Red Stockings, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, Mutual of New York, Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Brown Stockings.

In 1901, the National League’s rival, the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, was founded. Starting in 1903, the best team from each league began competing against each other in the World Series. Various teams switched in and out of the National League over the years, but it remained an eight-team league for many decades until 1962, when the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s (later renamed the Houston Astros) joined the league. In 1969, two more teams were added: the San Diego Padres and the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals). Also that year, the league was split into an East and West division of six teams each. The Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins became part of the National League in 1993, followed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998. In 1994, the league was reorganized to include a Central division, along with the East and West groups.

In 1997, Major League Baseball introduced inter-league play, in which each NL team played a series of regular-season games against AL teams of the same division. (In 2002, the rules were changed to allow AL/NL teams from non-corresponding divisions to compete against each other.) However, one major difference between the two leagues remains: the American League’s 1973 adoption of the designated hitter rule allowed teams to substitute another hitter for the pitcher, who generally hit poorly, in the lineup. As a result, teams in the American League typically score more runs than those in the National League, making, some fans argue, for a more exciting game.

How American Baseball Has Changed Over The Years

It is difficult to track the exact origins of American baseball. There are many stick and ball games that are widely accepted as the earliest versions of baseball, including the British "rounders" and the North American "one old cat" or town ball. For a time, the invention of baseball was credited to Abner Doubleday of Cooperstown, New York back in 1839. This story has since been debunked and is widely understood to have been a myth misinterpreted by the president of the National League, Abraham Mills, back in 1905 when he was commissioned to track the invention of American Baseball. Credit has since been given to Alexander Cartwright, a New York Bank Clerk who wrote a constitution for the first organized American baseball club in 1845, the Knickerbockers of New York. In the history of American Baseball, baseball's true inventor is far less important, and indeed less fascinating a story, compared to the history of how the sport developed over the years into America's "national pastime."

Development and Emergence of Professional Baseball

The New York Knickerbockers are widely accepted as the team that wrote the rules to modern day baseball. Many of the rules they wrote back in the 19th century are still in use today. The first official game played under these rules was played in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19th, 1846. Baseball remained a relatively small game and was overshadowed in popularity by Cricket until the American Civil War. It was during that time that baseball really started to grow in popularity. For one thing, Cricket required a specifically maintained playing field, whereas baseball could be played almost anywhere. This is one reason baseball started to grow in popularity, especially among the working class. Throughout the 1850s and most of the 1860s, baseball remained an amateur sport. It wasn't until the 1870s that a professional league, the National Association of Professional Ball Players, was established. With a burst in popularity and the establishment of a professional league, baseball started to take over the nation. While the National Association remained the dominant league until well into the 20th century, other minority profession leagues began to emerge across the country as early as the 1880s. This included the first recognized, so-called "Negro Baseball Leagues," The National Colored Baseball League in 1887.

Game Changers

The earliest professional baseball leagues were problematic for a number of reasons. For one, the issue of racial disclusion was also a major dividing factor that barred many young, talented players from entering any minor or major league baseball teams. The games were also highly corrupt, the party as a result of extremely low wages for the players. This lead to games being frequently thrown as players bought into gambling bribes with sports betters. Over the next century, some of these predominant issues began to change. In the early 20th century, a baseball league called the American League that managed to challenge the National League's dominance and eventually merge to form Major League Baseball. With this emergence came growth in power for players, who were eventually able to negotiate fairer wages. As far as the racial division goes, it wasn't until 1947 that the first African American baseball player was accepted into Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson is widely known as the man who "broke the color barrier" in American Baseball, which drew a record 21 million fans in the first years of Jackie's attendance.

Baseball Today

Baseball is now widely televised and one of the most-watched sport in the United States. Players are compensated with exceptionally high salaries, and some of the most famous, successful players come from minority groups that might not have had the opportunity to play in the 19th and early 20th century. From humble begins and "stick and ball" game origins, baseball has become a part of American identity.

Why is Baseball Such a Popular Sport?

Hot dogs, steamy summer afternoons and stadiums packed to the brim. These are a handful of qualities which we associate with baseball. While this sport may be as American as apple pie, you will be surprised to learn that its origins can be traced back to Canada and even England (as a variant of cricket). Still, many will argue that baseball is the most well-known sport on the planet and that this popularity continues to grow as the world becomes even more interconnected. Why is this the case? What are the main reasons behind such a universal appeal? Let us take a look at some worthwhile theories to consider before drawing any firm conclusions.

No Prior Experience Required

Many sports will require a significant amount of athleticism in order to be considered for a team. Basketball is defined by height and speed. American football is based a great deal off of physical size. Hockey is inevitably associated with balance and aggression. However, baseball is slightly different. Some of the most famous players such as Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle did not live the healthiest of lifestyles. Their talents can still never be denied.

Baseball instead relies upon an innate quality that cannot be taught. Keeping one’s “eye on the ball” and having a knack for hand-eye coordination often define a great player. As opposed to sports based solely upon physical prowess, baseball requires other talents such as strategy, patience and the ability to react well under pressure. This is one of the reasons why players of all shapes and sizes are able to enjoy a game even if within their own backyards.

Much More than an All-American Pastime

While there is no doubt that the United States is the current home of baseball, this sport has taken on what can only be called a global presence. From the streets of Madrid to the hills of China, fans continue to enjoy a fast-paced game or two. This is why calling baseball an American sport might be a slight mistake. While it originated in North America, defining baseball by a specific region is no longer valid.

We should also point out that baseball is one of the most popular sports for those who are betting enthusiasts. Countless individuals will use the power of the online community to place a wager and to (hopefully) walk away a winner. Thanks to modern technology, baseball games can now be live streamed over portable devices such as mobile phones and tablets. In other words, it is always possible to tune into a live game regardless of your physical location.

What does the future of baseball have in store? Although this is a difficult question to answer, there is no doubt that it will become even more popular with its global audience. Whether you hope to become a professional player one day or you are an avid fan, baseball is indeed here to stay. Get ready to sit back, relax and play ball!

2. Infrastructure

Everywhere you go in the U.S., no matter the size of the community, you’ll see basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, football fields and soccer fields. Every middle school, it seems, has a track and open spaces where people can play anything. Most high school have facilities — at the minimum, a big field that hosts football, soccer field hockey, and baseball at the most, there are separate fields for each of those sports, plus indoor training and practice facilities. Multiple basketball courts in one location are a common sight.

And then there are American colleges. They have athletic facilities that professional clubs worldwide would kill to have. Colleges spend fortunes on those facilities.

How the NFL Became America's Sport

While Major League Baseball once held the title of America's Pastime, the NFL has long since wrestled that title away.

Just this year, Harris Interactive reported that 34 percent of Americans identify professional football as their favorite sport. This compared to only 16 percent for baseball. When one adds in the 11 percent that say college football is their favorite, it's clear that Americans prefer their sports with pig-flavored balls rather than stitched leather.

It isn't just viewership that is on the rise for football. These days, kids are choosing "more exciting" sports over baseball. According to The Wall Street Journal:

From 2000 to 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, the number of kids aged 7 to 17 playing baseball fell 24%, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, an industry trade group. Despite growing concerns about the long-term effects of concussions, participation in youth tackle football has soared 21% over the same time span, while ice hockey jumped 38%. The Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, another industry trade group, said baseball participation fell 12.7% for the overall population.

One hundred years ago, Jim Thorpe—fresh off medaling in the 1912 Summer Olympics—became professional football's first superstar. Thorpe's career would last until he was 42 years old, and in 1923 he became a member of the league's first-ever All-Pro team.

That was then. Now, 100 years later, Thorpe and his contemporaries would be amazed at the crowds that pack massive NFL stadiums. They would never believe the weekend marathons of NFL action that start Thursday night and don't end until the fifth game of the football week has been consumed on Monday night.

Again, that's not even factoring in the crazy amounts of college football one can take in throughout the entire week. With a DVR hooked up to the TV, there's little reason football can't be on the menu every single time one turns on the set.

Where would one ever start to explain things like NFL RedZone or fantasy football?

The NFL has a stranglehold on the American sports experience right now, but it wasn't always that way.

The 90s Created a Sports Vacuum for the NFL to Eventually Fill

Growing up in the 90s, it's easy for my generation to remember a time when the NFL wasn't king.

With all due respect to the (many) larger-than-life personalities who have come through the NFL over the years, none captured the collective attention of Americans like Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.

I know hardcore football fans will think back to a time much earlier than the 90s when the NFL was their favorite sport. I can, too! However, from a societal perspective, the NFL has turned steady gains into leaps and bounds as of late. The chart above is Super Bowl viewership—when do the most casual of fans tune into the biggest game? The 90s weren't a time when the NFL ruled the roost as much as its biggest fans might think.

Think about it: Where Emmitt Smith was a giant, Bird was a mountain. Where Jerry Rice was the G.O.A.T., Jordan was a god. Once Bird stepped onto an NBA court in 1979, the NBA became the sport in America until Jordan started to decline in the late 90s.

Then, as Jordan faded from public importance, the NBA went on strike.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, the narrative of selfish, money-grabbing NBA players was only amplified by the high-scoring and freestyling play of stars like Allen Iverson and Paul Pierce. Gone were Magic Johnson's Showtime Lakers, Red's Celtics, the Bad Boy Pistons and Jordan's Bulls. Following the strike the NBA's importance in American life faded, and even Jordan's short-lived time on the Wizards couldn't save it.

Of course, the NBA wasn't the only league going on strike. In fact, the NFL was the only league that didn't face a work stoppage in the 90s. MLB had a lockout in 1990 and a strike in 1994-95. The NHL was on strike in 1992 and locked out 1994-95.

At that point, the NFL was the only stable game in town for many sports fans. Even as salaries continued to rise and labor unrest boiled under the surface, the public perception was that the NFL was a true team sport while NBA, MLB and NHL players were overpaid brats.

Yet, as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chased home run records in 1998, MLB was able to make it very clear that it still had a decent shot at the top of the mountain.

Expansion and Rules Changes Create a More Vibrant League

Between 1995 and 2002, the NFL underwent massive changes both cosmetically and substantially.

First, the Rams moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis and the Raiders moved from Los Angeles to Oakland. Then, two expansion teams—the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars—were created. This shift put two new teams in Southern markets and one back in the Midwest.

In 1996, the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. The next year, in 1997, the Houston Oilers moved to Nashville to eventually become the Tennessee Titans. Just two years later, the Browns were re-established as an expansion franchise in Cleveland. In 2002, the Houston Texans were added to make up for the loss of the Oilers.

That's another team on the East Coast and an even stronger presence in the South.

By this point in history, the NFL could have settled for a "if you build it they will come" attitude, but the league continued to tinker with the game to provide viewers with an even better experience. (Sorry, purists, but you know it's true.)

There have been rule changes to football since the days of Walter Camp and Pop Warner, but for the purposes of this article, the first major rules change can be seen in 1990 as the NFL revised its playoff format to provide two additional Wild Card teams.

In 1994, the two-point conversion was added. (Side note: How weird is it that 19-year-olds never lived in a world that didn't have two-point conversions?) While the conversion attempt isn't utilized very often, it increased the amount of strategy and made the ends of games that much more tantalizing.

The rest of the 90s and the early 2000s featured rule changes that significantly helped offenses. First, in 1995, a receiver knocked out of bounds could re-establish himself in the field of play. The next year, referees made the five-yard contact rule a point of emphasis and began protecting players from helmet-to-helmet hits. In 1998, the defense was now unable to flinch to draw offensive linemen offsides. In 2001, the referees were again asked to protect passers to protect the owners' investments.

These geographical and rule changes put a higher-scoring game on the television sets of more and more media markets in the United States. Still, it took one more step to put fan's butts in the seats for their modern-day football addictions.

Fantasy Football Creates a Leaguewide Interest for Casual Fans

The first fantasy football league was started in 1963, but it took decades for it to reach the mainstream. More to point, it took the advance of the Internet over the old fax machine method of score-tracking, and the ability to get scores live rather than in the newspaper box score the next morning.

Bleacher Report actually has an interesting connection to this leap in NFL popularity, as CEO Brian Grey became general manager at Yahoo! Sports in 2001. One of his first goals was to raise the profile of their fantasy sports scene. Grey's big idea was to make fantasy football something free to play rather than the paid leagues Yahoo!'s competitors were offering.

It took off like gangbusters.

To this day—even after ESPN, CBS and others were forced into free leagues—Yahoo! remains one of the top fantasy football destinations on the Web.

With the advent of fantasy sports, fans now have a vested interest in teams and players that aren't geographically near them. Two decades ago, a fan in Syracuse, N.Y., didn't need to know that the St. Louis Rams running back ran for two touchdowns. Now, that same fan needs to know up-to-the-second injury information on that running back and demands retribution if the coach limits his carries.

Fantasy sports has emboldened NFL reporters and increased the use of second-screen viewing as fans set up shop not only with their big screens, but also with their tablets and mobile devices. To keep up with the home-viewing experience, in 2011, the league mandated that teams show fantasy statistics from across the league on the video scoreboards.

Now, the NFL has its own channel just for scoring opportunities. Microsoft is rolling out a host of fantasy football friendly features for its new Xbox One console. The way we consume the game is changing, and it's only a matter of time before fantasy football at least influences the decisions made in league offices about the play of the game.

The NFL filled a vacuum created by labor strife and the exit of a few NBA icons. That coincided with a massive expansion and rules change by the NFL to make the game more appealing to average fans across the country. Fantasy football, more than any other development, locked those fans in and gave them a reason to care about every single team across the league.

The NFL is America's sport, and it doesn't look like that is changing anytime soon.

Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.

Watch the video: Greatest Catches in MLB History