The Most Popular College Sport: Revealing the Top Contender

Choose the college sport you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 23, 2024 06:57
Welcome to StrawPoll, your one-stop destination for determining the most popular college sport! We've brought together thousands of sports enthusiasts, just like you, to cast their votes and settle the debate once and for all. From the adrenaline-pumping action of college football to the nail-biting drama of basketball, our comprehensive ranking covers all the fan-favorite college sports. But we're not just about the big leagues – we've also included some lesser-known, yet equally thrilling sports for you to discover and enjoy! So, what are you waiting for? Dive into our interactive ranking, cast your vote for your favorite college sport, or even suggest a missing option that deserves a spot in the limelight. Together, let's celebrate the power of sportsmanship, and crown the ultimate champion of college sports!

What Is the Most Popular College Sport?

  1. 1
    Football is undoubtedly the most popular college sport in the United States. It has a massive following and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.
    Football, also known as American football, is a highly intense and physically demanding sport played primarily in the United States. It involves two teams of eleven players each, aiming to score points by advancing an oval-shaped ball into the opponent's end zone. The game is known for its strategic complexity, physicality, and emphasis on both individual skill and teamwork.
    • Field dimensions: 100 yards long and 53.3 yards wide
    • Game duration: 60 minutes (divided into four 15-minute quarters)
    • Scoring methods: Touchdown (6 points), field goal (3 points), extra point (1 or 2 points), safety (2 points)
    • Playing surface: Grass or artificial turf
    • Positions: Offense (quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, etc.) and defense (defensive linemen, linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, etc.)
  2. 2
    Basketball is another popular college sport that attracts a lot of attention. The NCAA March Madness tournament is one of the most-watched sporting events in the country.
    Basketball is a fast-paced and exhilarating sport that showcases dynamic athleticism, skillful teamwork, and strategic gameplay. Played by two teams of five players each, the objective is to score points by shooting the ball through the opposing team's hoop. With its high-flying dunks, precision shooting, and rapid ball movement, basketball offers an exciting spectacle that captivates fans worldwide.
    • Number of Players: 5 players per team
    • Playing Surface: Indoor court with a hardwood floor
    • Hoops: Two standard-sized hoops, positioned at opposite ends of the court
    • Ball: Standard basketball with a circumference of 29.5-30 inches
    • Game Duration: Four quarters of 12 minutes each (NBA)
  3. 3
    Baseball is America's national pastime, and college baseball is a popular sport that draws large crowds.
    Baseball is a popular team sport that is played with a bat and ball. It is primarily played in North America, although it has gained some popularity in other parts of the world as well. The objective of the game is for a team to score more runs than the opposing team by hitting the ball and running around a series of bases.
    • Number of players: Each team consists of nine players on the field
    • Field dimensions: The playing field is a diamond shape with four bases placed in a square formation
    • Equipment: A baseball, a wooden bat, and gloves for fielders
    • Innings: A typical game consists of nine innings for each team
    • Pitching: The pitcher throws the ball towards the batter from the pitcher's mound
  4. 4
    Soccer is a growing sport in the United States, and college soccer has gained popularity in recent years.
    Soccer, also known as football, is a popular sport played between two teams, each consisting of eleven players. It is considered one of the most beautiful sports to watch due to its fluid movements, skillful techniques, and strategic gameplay. The objective of the game is to score goals by maneuvering a round ball into the opponent's net using any part of the body except the arms and hands. Soccer matches are typically played on a rectangular field and are governed by a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game.
    • Number of Players: 11 players on each team
    • Field Dimensions: Length: 100-110 meters, Width: 64-75 meters
    • Duration: Two halves of 45 minutes each, with a halftime break
    • Equipment: Round ball, soccer cleats, shin guards, jerseys
    • Scoring: A goal is scored when the ball crosses the opponent's goal line between the goalposts and under the crossbar
  5. 5
    Volleyball is a popular Olympic sport and has gained popularity in college sports.
    Volleyball is a team sport played on a rectangular court divided by a net. The objective is for each team to send the ball over the net and to ground it on the opponent's side of the court, while preventing the ball from touching the ground on their own side. It is a fast-paced and dynamic game that requires teamwork, agility, and precise ball control.
    • Number of players: 6 players per team
    • Court dimensions: 18 meters long and 9 meters wide
    • Net height: 2.43 meters for men and 2.24 meters for women
    • Scoring system: Rally scoring system
    • Ball weight: 260-280 grams
  6. 6
    Track and Field is a traditional college sport that has been around for decades. It is popular among athletes and spectators alike.
    Track and Field is a sport that combines various athletic events involving running, jumping, and throwing. It is commonly practiced in colleges and universities all over the world. The main goal of Track and Field is to achieve the best performance in each individual event and accumulate points for the team competition.
    • Events: Track events (sprints, middle-distance, long-distance, hurdles), field events (jumping, throwing)
    • Equipment: Starting blocks, javelin, shot put, discus, high jump bar, pole vault pole, etc.
    • Running Surfaces: Track (rubberized or artificial surface)
    • Scoring System: Points assigned based on individual or team performance in each event
    • Records: Numerous records exist for each event, set by athletes from around the world
  7. 7
    Tennis is a popular individual sport that has gained popularity in college sports. It is an exciting sport to watch, and college tennis competitions are often intense.
    Tennis is an elegant and fast-paced sport played by two players (singles) or four players (doubles) on a rectangular court. It is played with rackets and a felt-covered ball, with the objective of hitting the ball over a net into the opponent's side of the court, in a way that the opponent cannot return it. The sport requires agility, accuracy, and strategic thinking.
    • Court Dimensions: The court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for singles matches, and 36 feet wide for doubles matches.
    • Net Height: The height of the net is 3 feet (0.91 meters) at the center.
    • Scoring System: Tennis uses a point-based scoring system with Love (0), 15, 30, and 40 points. An additional point after 40 is required to win a game.
    • Sets and Matches: A match consists of the best of three or five sets. A player must win six or seven games (depending on the format) with a two-game advantage to win a set.
    • Serve: The server must stand behind the baseline and hit the ball into the service box diagonally across the net.
  8. 8
    Golf is a popular sport that has gained popularity in college sports. Many college golfers go on to have successful careers in the PGA Tour.
    Golf is a precision club-and-ball sport where players use various clubs to hit a small ball into a series of holes on a course in the fewest possible strokes. It is a popular sport played internationally, known for its combination of skill, strategy, and sportsmanship.
    • Number of Players: Usually played individually, but can also be played in teams.
    • Objective: To complete each hole with the fewest number of strokes possible.
    • Equipment: Golf clubs, golf balls, and golf course.
    • Golf Courses: Consist of a series of holes, usually 18, each with a teeing area, fairway, rough, and green.
    • Scoring: Scores are based on the number of strokes taken to complete each hole. The lower the score, the better.
  9. 9
    Lacrosse is a popular sport in the United States, and college lacrosse has gained popularity in recent years.
    Lacrosse is a team sport that originated in North America and is recognized as one of the most physically demanding sports played in the United States. It is played with a small rubber ball and long-handled sticks called crosse or lacrosse sticks. The objective of the game is to score goals by shooting the ball into the opponent's net. Lacrosse is a fast-paced game that combines elements of basketball, soccer, and hockey, requiring agility, speed, and strategic thinking.
    • Number of Players: 10 players per team (men's lacrosse), 12 players per team (women's lacrosse)
    • Field: A rectangular field with dimensions approximately 110 yards by 60 yards (men's lacrosse), 120 yards by 70 yards (women's lacrosse)
    • Equipment: Lacrosse stick (crosse), helmet, shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, cleats, and a mouthguard
    • Duration: Four quarters of 15 minutes each (men's lacrosse), two halves of 30 minutes each (women's lacrosse)
    • Ball: Small rubber ball approximately 7.75 to 8 inches in circumference
  10. 10
    Wrestling is a traditional college sport that has been around for decades. It is popular among athletes and spectators alike.
    Wrestling is a physically demanding sport that involves two competitors engaging in close combat with the goal of overpowering and pinning their opponent to the ground. It is characterized by a combination of technique, strength, agility, and mental toughness.
    • Weight Classes: Wrestlers are divided into weight classes, allowing for fair competition based on size and strength.
    • Rules and Scoring: Wrestling matches are governed by specific rules that determine legality of moves, and points are awarded for various actions like takedowns, escapes, and pinning the opponent.
    • Technical Skills: Successful wrestlers possess a repertoire of techniques including throws, takedowns, holds, and moves that require immense technique, timing, and skill.
    • Physical Conditioning: Wrestlers require exceptional physical conditioning to endure intense matches that often last for several minutes, involving constant movement, explosive bursts of energy, and maintaining stamina.
    • Individual Sport: Wrestling is primarily an individual sport, with a focus on individual performance, strategy, and mental preparation.

Missing your favorite college sport?


Ranking factors for popular college sport

  1. Fan attendance
    The number of fans attending games, both in-person and on television or online, is a crucial factor in determining a sport's popularity. High attendance numbers indicate a strong fan following and enthusiasm for the sport.
  2. Revenue generation
    The amount of money generated through ticket sales, merchandise sales, sponsorship deals, and broadcast rights can also help determine the popularity of a sport.
  3. Media coverage
    More popular sports often receive more extensive media coverage, including articles in newspapers and magazines, radio and television broadcasts, and social media engagement.
  4. National championships and tournaments
    The number of participants and the level of excitement surrounding national championships and tournaments can be indicative of a sport's popularity.
  5. Number of college programs
    The more college programs that offer a particular sport, the more likely it is to be popular among students and fans.
  6. Scholarships offered
    The number of athletic scholarships offered for a sport is another indicator of its popularity. More scholarships often mean more interest from athletes and higher levels of competition.
  7. Alumni support and engagement
    The level of support and involvement from alumni can help gauge the popularity of a sport. This includes financial contributions toward athletic programs, attendance at games, and general support for the team.
  8. Historical tradition and success
    The history of a sport's success at a particular college or university can also contribute to its popularity. Long-standing rivalries and winning traditions can generate strong fan support and enthusiasm.
  9. Community involvement and support
    A sport's popularity can also be determined by the level of involvement and support it receives from the local community. This can include local businesses sponsoring events or contributing to athletic programs, as well as fan involvement through youth leagues and camps.
  10. Athlete recognition and success
    Finally, the popularity of a sport can be influenced by the success and recognition of its athletes, both during their college careers and after graduation. Star athletes can draw attention to their respective sports, encouraging more fans to follow and support the team.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular college sport. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or college sport is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 226 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each college sport once every 24 hours. The rank of each college sport is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


More information on most popular college sport

College sports are an integral part of the American sporting culture, with millions of fans tuning in to watch their favorite teams compete. From football to basketball, baseball to soccer, there are numerous college sports to choose from. But which college sport is the most popular? The answer to this question is not straightforward, as it can vary depending on factors like geography, school size, and team success. However, some college sports consistently draw larger crowds and generate more excitement than others. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the most popular college sports and explore the reasons behind their enduring appeal.

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