Amateur Sports in the US

Being a fan of American Football and even playing the odd pickup game (a hard thing to do in Ireland where you have to explain the rules to everyone as you go along), I started to wonder about the amatuer playing of sports by adults in the states.

I know college sports are huge over there, but if someone doesn’t make the pros? Is there a culture of playing sports (in particular football) at an organised (beyond pick up) amateur level on the evenings and weekends*?

In Ireland there are lower level leagues in most sports that allow even the most unfit, working 9 to 5 guy an oppurtunity to play. This includes rugby, which would provide the most obvious comparison to football in terms of fitness levels needed and risk of injury to people with jobs and kids to feed.

  • I realise that this culture may vary from region to region

There are some leagues wherever you go, but you’re much more likely to find organized amateur baseball/softball leagues instead.

Soccer leagues are also really common.

There are lots of amateur leagues for adults in the U.S., in virtually any sport you can imagine. For example, I’ve known several guys who played in amateur rugby leagues.

There are indeed amateur teams and leagues for American football (the “full” kind, with pads and tackling), but the cost of equipment isn’t insignificant – if you play in high school or college, the school provides your pads and helmet, but if you play in an amateur league, you’re likely to be required to provide your own gear. That (and the risk of injury due to the contact) is why adult leagues for “flag” or “touch” football are far more common – these versions of the game don’t allow tackling and don’t use helmets or pads.

In the US, absolutely. There are clubs and organizations for just about any sport you want to play. I’ve participated in amateur clubs or leagues for football, baseball, softball, basketball and golf. The baseball league I participated in was very serious. There were many players who had come from collegiate and even professional levels. There are also semi-pro leagues for most sports if you want to get really serious.

Cheers for that. Its something I forget to ask everytime I’m in the states. I guess I thought if it was common then it would be portrayed a lot more often on TV or in movies.

There was a movie a couple of years ago, Invincible, a true story of a 30-year-old bartender in Philadelphia who played in neighborhood football games, and managed to make the Philadelphia Eagles.

We won!