Did you know that cricket is the second most popular sport next to soccer or European football?
Well, if you’re in certain countries like the United States, it’s probably a surprising fact since this sport isn’t as popular as American football, baseball, and basketball in the country. However, this may change in the coming years now that more efforts are in place to promote cricket in the US.
Based on statistics, cricket has around 2.5 billion fans worldwide while soccer or association football has over 3.5 billion fans. If cricket becomes bigger in countries like the US, there is a chance that this sport can triumph over soccer in terms of following.
This means that Americans may eventually show interest not only in local cricket but also in other international cricket events like the Cricket World Cup, the Big Bash League (BBL), and the Indian Premier League (IPL). That said, Americans may also go for Cricket World Cup, BBL, and IPL betting.
So, what’s the current status of US cricket and how likely will it be a hit in the US? Let’s have a look at what this sport means in the country, so keep on reading.
An Overview of Cricket in America
It’s not just now that cricket is gaining popularity in the US. This sport has been played in the country since the 18th century. It was popularly played on the East Coast, between Philadelphia and New York. It became so popular that it was once considered the country’s national sport.
Cricket teams in the US would compete internationally. However, during the Civil War, cricket fever in the US somewhat waned. It was when a new sport was starting to gain more attention, which was baseball. It could have something to do with how baseball is similar to cricket but is more fast-paced.
During this time, many soldiers and military men were also seen playing baseball on any clear patch of ground. Because of patriotism, people also showed interest in baseball, and eventually, it became the “people’s game” and cricket became an amateur game for gentlemen.
People also somewhat lost hope that the US cricket team will ever be successful against cricket teams in England. The Philadelphian cricket team has been performing poorly since they went to England in 1908.
There also came the time when cricket is only seen as an elitist sport, which is kind of still the case today. Many likely think of this sport this way because of its slow pace and how the players would usually dress in traditional whites.
It’s seen as a strict and composed game compared to other popular sports in the country today with so much intensity to the point that one can even call them nasty.
Cricket Today and the Possible Future
Well, despite other sports being more popular than cricket in the US, it never really went away. In fact, until 2017, the USA Cricket team was part of the International Cricket Council tournaments.
However, they ended up getting expelled because of a lack of proper governance and financing issues. It was only in 2019 when an associate membership was officially granted to USA Cricket once again. Since then, immigrants from the West Indies and Southeast Asia kept the sport alive.
Brands like Willow TV also came to the US market that brought live broadcasting of big cricket events like the IPL and the BBL.
In 2020, USA Cricket announced a partnership with the American Cricket Enterprise (ACE) which is backed by Willow TV and The Times of India Group. Their objective is to create a professional T20 cricket league in the US and this was when plans for the Major League Cricket (MLC) came to be.
Initially, the MLC was planned to be launched in 2021 but because of the COVID 19 pandemic, it was delayed until 2023. 2021 was also when it was announced that MCL will have a youth version of both Minor and Major League cricket to give young cricketers in the US an opportunity to play domestically and internationally.
MLC will have six teams once it starts next year. These teams are from Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York, and San Francisco as these are the places that are considered cricket hotspots. MLC also said that they are hoping to have eight teams in the future which is similar to what other T20 leagues have around the world.
No official schedule has already been announced, but the MLC is something that many cricket fans in the US are looking forward to. For a long time, the US is seen as cricket’s sleeping giant and this may be the league that finally wakes it up.
When that happens, European football will probably be up against a mammoth of a sport in terms of popularity.