Sports Illustrated Kids

What Is the National Sport?

Buzz and Whitney debate baseball versus football . . . kind of.


Whitney: In some countries, the government has designated a national sport. Canada even has two: lacrosse for the summer and hockey for the winter. Other countries have de facto national sports, as their favorite games are obvious. The United States has neither. Though it has never been legally acknowledg­ed as such, baseball has long been called “America’s Pastime.” The country’s most popular sport, however, is football, by far. Buzz, would you like to make your opening statement?

Buzz: I disagree.

Whitney: With what?

Buzz: Your honor, I object.

Whitney: BUZZ! You weren’t paying attention. It’s time for your argument.

Buzz: My bad. O.K. Here’s the deal: Football is the best, and everyone knows it. Polling shows that 37% of Americans consider it their favorite, compared with just 9% for baseball (which ranks third behind basketball). Baseball’s not even second! Shouldn’t this debate be football vs. basketball?

Whitney: What’s the greatest British rock band of all time? The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? Or Status Quo, which had more hit singles in the U.K. than any other group? Nobody would say Status Quo (in this country at least), because no one’s ever heard of them! Football is our Status Quo: a big hit here and a flop everywhere else. Take a more global view, Kip: Baseball is popular from Cuba to Japan. Everywhere else, football means soccer.

Buzz: Your musical references, like your taste in sports, are in the wrong century, Whit. Wouldn’t the fact that football is uniquely popular here make it our national sport? Actually, that’s my argument.

Forget I phrased it like a question.

Whitney: Your view of the issue is as short-sighted as it is provincial! Football may be a big deal now, but injury concerns and convoluted rules have put it on the decline. The National League started in 1876, and still MLB is the second highest-grossing league in the country. That’s staying power.

Buzz: Being older doesn’t make a sport better. Neither does the length of the schedule, the beauty of the stadiums, nor the number of mascots that are birds. It’s like saying being a certain height makes you more less likely to get injured.

Whitney: You’re talking about that roller coaster again.

Buzz: My hair is part of me! If he’s trying to figure out if I’m at least 60 inches tall, why would he smoosh my hair down?! I’m 5'3" with a hat!

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