Top 10 Sports Not Played in North America

Sports are enormously popular all around the world and played by millions of people. At the forefront of this is North America, where dozens of different sports are played to a very high level. This includes baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey, soccer, gymnastics, boxing, swimming and plenty more. You will often find that in any international competition the U.S.A and Canada will always perform well in these areas, and this is because it is a fantastic sporting region where competitive sport is weaved into the social fabric and from a young age.

There are also many sports that are not particularly well known or played in North America, but around the world some of these sports have gigantic followings and are as avidly followed as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL in the U.S and Canada.

There appears to be no particular reason that other sports have not caught on, but perhaps in time they will grow in popularity in North America much like soccer has done in recent times. Soccer and the MLS has grown rapidly over the years, and the U.S men’s national team's admirable performance in the 2014 World Cup is a testament as to how far the sport has come, and now the future looks very bright for the sport stateside.

There are hundreds of different sports enjoyed around the world, with some of these having enormous followings and participants. Although North America is famous for its sporting prowess, there are also many sports which are not well known or played by many people. However in other nations around the world you will find people playing these games in the streets, wearing jerseys of their favourite players, reading about the sport or watching it being played on television.

Here are 10 sports which are not well known or played by many in North America.

10 Bo-Taoshi


9 Buzkashi


Certainly not a sport for the faint hearted, Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan and is played throughout Central Asia. Buzkashi translates to “goat dragging”, and it sees horse mounted players attempt to drag a decapitated animal (usually a goat), navigate through obstacles and throw it into a circle at the other end of the playing surface. The game can get particularly rough and physical, and often there will be huge groups of players competing which make it a frantic and dramatic affair. When played in its more traditional format there are not too many rules, but the Afghan Olympic Federation have introduced several rules for tournaments, including each team having 10 riders and the game being split into 45 minute halves.

8 Kabaddi


7 Gaelic football


Whilst it may not command as much attention as rugby or soccer, Gaelic football is still a historic and important sport and is the most played team sport in Ireland. Similarly to other Gaelic sports, it is played around the world by members of the Irish Diaspora. There are both league and championship competitions which attract crowds of up to 80,000, and it is also widely played by children from a young age.

6 Hurling

Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

5 Team Handball


4 Netball


3 Aussie Rules

Michael Willson/AFL Media)

As the name implies, this sport originates from Australia but has begun to find popularity around the world. This is for good reason, as it is an exciting and physical sport which contains elements of soccer, rugby, football, basketball and volleyball. It is played on enormous pitches and each team has 18 players on the field during the game, ensuring that there is always excitement which makes it a great spectator sport too.

2 Rugby


Although there is some interest in rugby in North America, including a U.S men’s national team, it is still a sport which is generally not played or followed by many. There is room for it to become popular thanks to its similarity to football, but this may also hinder the sport in that football is so heavily engrained into North America that any similar sport will be seen as inferior.

1 Cricket


Cricket is one of the most popular sports, with millions of people both playing and watching the game that originated in England. It is a major sport in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh. It is played by around 120 million people, and this makes it the second most popular sport in the world (behind soccer). Despite this, cricket has not caught on in North America despite it being played by many around the time of the Civil War.

Although similar to baseball in terms of it being a bat and ball sport where opponents can be caught out and the goal is to score runs, the sports differ heavily. Cricket matches have a much slower pace, and some matches will go on over a few days. Huge competitions such as the Cricket World Cup are gigantic global events, with many parties being thrown throughout much similar to the Super Bowl in North America.

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Top 10 Sports Not Played in North America