Major leagues

The attitude to American sports that we Brits possess has always been, at the very best, cynical. Whether we’re put off by the nonsensical rules, overt celebrations of players and fans, or simply questioning the need for heavy padding on American footballers despite their rugby counterparts wearing little more than a gum shield, we’re quick to judge our transatlantic friends’ competitive tastes.

However, in recent years, there’s been a resurgence in the number of American sports fans across the UK and Europe. Spurred on by countless exhibition and full-season games in both basketball and American football – and with greater access to games through satellite sports channels and even free-to-air TV – there’s no better time to learn a North American sport. Indeed, there’s no better place to watch it than Florida, too.

The Sunshine State boasts no fewer than 12 major sports teams across five major leagues, which we’ll go into in more detail in our in-depth guide pages. On top of that, Florida is also home to some of the country’s most famous racing speedways, used in numerous series including the world-renowned NASCAR.

<h3>Champions everywhere</h3>

Florida’s a state of champions and competitive prestige. Five of the 12 squads in FL have claimed the ultimate prize in their sport a whopping nine times. From the unforgettably-named Miami Dolphins – who recorded the only ever 100% winning season in the NFL in 1972, before emerging victorious in Super Bowl VII – to the recent dominance of the Miami Heat in the NBA Championship, there are plenty of high-quality teams to watch across the state.

<h3>Sports throughout the year – a simple calendar</h3>

The sporting calendar in the US covers the entire year, meaning there’ll always be something going on when you’re in Florida. That said, it’s still a game of chance – while there are countless games going on in each sport (including over 160 games a year per team in Major League Baseball), there’s often a chance your chosen team will be playing away from home when you’re in their backyard.

If you’re thinking of watching something when you head out, here’s a rough guide to seasons in the five major sports, in date order from the start of each season:

<ul>
<li><strong>Major League Soccer (MLS)</strong>
Regular season: March to October, Playoffs: November, MLS Cup: December
</li>
</ul>

<ul>
<li><strong>Major League Baseball (MLB)</strong>
Regular season: April to September, Playoffs: September to October, World Series: October
</li>
</ul>

<ul>
<li><strong>National Football League (NFL)</strong>
Regular season: September to December, Playoffs: January, Super Bowl: First Sunday of February
</li>
</ul>

<ul>
<li><strong>National Basketball Association (NBA)</strong>
Regular season: October to April, Playoffs: April to June, NBA Championship: June
</li>
</ul>

<ul>
<li><strong>National Hockey League (NHL)</strong>
Regular season: October to March/April, Playoffs: April to June, Stanley Cup Finals: June
</li>
</ul>

<h3>Understanding what you’re getting yourself into</h3>

Obviously, American sports aren’t always the easiest to understand. However, with the exception of American football, all other four major sports are played elsewhere – perhaps without the same fanfare as they receive in North America (football aside, of course), but they’re popular enough to reach wider audiences.

We hope our sports-specific guides will give you the lowdown on the basics you need to know to get through a game. Failing that, snacks and beverages are free-flowing in each and every sport, as you’d expect in America, so don’t worry too much about having other distractions while you’re there!

Major League Baseball (MLB)

If you’re thinking of watching something when you head out, here’s a rough guide to seasons Regular season: April to […]

Major League Soccer (MLS)

If you’re thinking of watching something when you head out, here’s a rough guide to seasons Regular season: March to […]

National Hockey League (NHL)

If you’re thinking of watching something when you head out, here’s a rough guide to seasons Regular season: October to […]

National Football League (NFL)

If you’re thinking of watching something when you head out, here’s a rough guide to seasons Regular season: September to […]