5 most popular sports in Canada

Canada has a healthy sports-playing culture. The country’s climate and infrastructural facilities create a feasible environment where the residents can play a variety of sports at a competitive level or for recreation. The country is home to various professional leagues and teams for different sports.

This article offers a brief preview of the five most popular sports in Canada.

Ice Hockey in Canada

Ice hockey is the most commonly played sport in Canada. The earliest records of modern ice hockey being played in Canada can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, and since then, it has been the nation’s favourite form of pastime.

People of all ages, including men, women, and children, like to play ice hockey in various forms of competition. The country’s climate and infrastructure also facilitate the sport’s growth and increase in its popularity.

One of the most prestigious trophies in professional ice hockey, the Stanley Cup, originated in 1893 in Canada. The sport is officially governed by Hockey Canada, while the national ice hockey team participates in the Olympics and the annual IIHF Men’s World Championship. At the domestic level, the national championship for senior men is the Allan Cup, while for juniors, there is the Memorial Cup.

There are seven teams from Canada in the National Hockey League, the premium professional ice hockey league comprising teams from Canada and the United States. Almost two-thirds of the population likes to watch the National Hockey League playoffs in Canada. Currently, there are more than 500000 registered ice hockey players in Canada.

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Lacrosse in Canada

The second most popular sport in Canada is lacrosse, which is also the official national sport in Canada. While the sport was once a game of the indigenous people only, today, it is highly popular in Canada and the northeastern region of the United States.

The governing body for Lacrosse in Canada is the Canadian Lacrosse Association, which was established in 1925. The association is responsible for organising championship tournaments for men and women at the junior and senior levels. Canada also has a professional lacrosse league, the National Lacrosse League, that plays an indoor version of the sport known as box lacrosse. The league has thirteen franchises, five of whom are in Canada. Canada also hosted the World Lacrosse Championship in 2006, where it beat the United States team and broke America’s record of staying unbeaten for twenty-eight years. Canada also has a Lacrosse Hall of Fame, where some of the great achievers in the sport are featured and recognised for their contributions.

Canadian Football

While the rest of the world refers to soccer as football, in Canada, football is used to refer to Canadian football. The sport is similar to, but also different from American football and has its origins in rugby football. The original version of the sport was first played in the country in the 1860s, but Canadian football evolved as a unique sport over time.

The first Canadian football game was played in the country in 1861 at the University of Toronto, followed by the formation of a football club. The formal rules for the game were devised in 1864. However, it is believed that modern Canadian football originated in 1865 when a team of British army officers played a game of rugby with the local civilians. Over time, the sport became popular, becoming a favourite pastime for the locals and played at school, college, and semi-professional levels.

The Canadian Football League is the only professional league in Canada, while for players aged 18-22, there is the Quebec Junior Football League. The Canadian Football League was established in 1884, and the sport’s official governing body, Football Canada, was established in the same year.

Curling in Canada

Curling is a popular sport in Canada, especially in the Prairie Province, which is home to some of the most successful teams. Curling was first introduced to Canada by armed forces from Scotland. In this sport, players slide stones across the ice to reach the target area, which is circular in shape. Sports like boules, bowling, or shuffleboard are also comparable to curling in terms of the format.

The Tim Horton Brier is the men’s curling competition, while the contest is called the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for women. It is one of the most popular and watched contests for women in Canada.

Basketball in Canada

Did you know that basketball’s creator James Naismith was a Canadian? According to research, basketball is the second most popular sport for millennials in Canada.

Professional basketball in Canada started in 1946, but it became more popular in the 1990s when two Canadian teams, the Toronto Raptors, and Vancouver Grizzlies, received NBA franchises. The Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship in 2019 for the first time.

The top basketball league in the country is the Canadian Elite Basketball League which was formed in 2017 and had its first season in 2019 with six teams.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are famous sports in Canada?
Ice hockey is widely recognised as a famous sport in Canada, with the National Hockey League (NHL) being particularly popular among Canadians. Curling and lacrosse are also iconic, with curling having deep cultural roots in the country and lacrosse being acknowledged as Canada’s national summer sport.

Which sports are considered the most popular in Canada?
The NHL leads as the most popular professional sport in Canada, closely followed by the NFL, MLB, CFL, NBA, and MLS. Ice hockey’s prominence is evident through the significant viewership and fanbase of the NHL, showcasing the sport’s deep integration into Canadian culture.

What are the most viewed sports in Canada?
Ice hockey, specifically the NHL, ranks as the most viewed sport, with a substantial percentage of Canadians following the league closely. Other highly viewed sports include football (NFL), baseball (MLB), and basketball (NBA), reflecting a diverse sporting interest among Canadians.

How has the popularity of tennis evolved in Canada?
Tennis has gained remarkable traction in Canada, with stars like Milos Raonic contributing to its growing popularity. The Rogers Cup, a key ATP and WTA event, further highlights tennis as a significant sport within the country, attracting international attention.

What role does baseball play in Canadian sports culture?
Baseball holds a special place in Canadian sports culture, marked by the historic achievements of the Toronto Blue Jays and celebrated players like Larry Walker. Its long history and cultural significance make it a cherished sport among Canadians.

Can you tell me about the rise of cricket in Canada?
Cricket is enjoying a rapidly growing following in Canada, thanks in part to the nation’s diverse demographics and the establishment of professional leagues like Global T20 Canada. This sport’s increasing popularity highlights the broadening spectrum of sports enjoyed by Canadians.


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