Cricket was first played in the South East of England during the 16th Century, but since then it’s migrated and become more popular in places like Australia and sub continental Asia. Notably missing from this list is the United States of America, most likely because of other ball-and-bat games (namely baseball). However, there is reason to believe that cricket’s popularity in the USA is rising – with a $1 billion investment into American cricket on the horizon. In anticipation of a professional U.S. T20 league, we’ve decided to write this article, exploring cricket’s history and popularity throughout the USA. So, kick back and learn how this English sport is beginning to influenc American culture.
It’s previously been difficult for Americans to watch cricket on their televisions. Fortunately, in 2010 an American pay television sports channel called Willow TV was launched. This channel was originally nothing more than an internet portal. However, since its establishment in 2003, Willow TV has grown in tandem with American cricket’s overall popularity, so now it’s become available on Apple TV and Sling TV. You can also watch cricket on ESPN+, the internet equivalent to America’s biggest cable sports channel that regularly features sports such as the NFL. The fact it’s not televised on ESPN indicates that cricket still isn’t massively popular in the US, but hopefully this will change with increased coverage on other channels like Willow TV.
Betting is usually a good indicator of how popular a sport is in a country. It’s part of the culture surrounding the game, most evidently seen in horse racing. Following laws and regulations for responsible gambling, betting on cricket has been made completely legal in the USA, along with other sports such as the NFL. Cricket betting tips are even readily available for Americans to access online. The growth of the culture within the USA indicates that cricket is growing in popularity. From small acorns mighty oaks do grow.
The leading coordinator for American cricket was first founded in 1965 and revived again in 2017 as USA cricket. By comparison, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was established in 1876, nearly 100 years before. This means baseball is much more deeply integrated into American culture than cricket. The disparity between the two ball-and-bat games is further exaggerated by how much professional players earn. The highest salary for professional American cricketers was last recorded as $160,000 annually, whereas major league American baseballers will earn anything between $550,000 to $35 million. There is also a distinct lack of cricket pitches in the USA. Most games are played on repurposed grounds, such as soccer stadiums. So, it’s difficult to surmise whether cricket isn’t popular in the USA because it lacks funding or historical and cultural significance. However, as of 2019, a governing body called ‘Major League Cricket’ was established in the USA. This leads us to believe that professional cricket is on the rise.
There are many reasons why cricket hasn’t been massively popular in the US, like a lack of funding, it being unavailable on television, and having less historical significance. However, there are now as many reasons to believe its popularity is on the rise, as the culture around American cricket grows alongside its professional leagues and television channels.