Most sources consider cricket as one of the top two or three most popular sports, falling behind football, or soccer, as Americans say. The International Cricket Council (ICC) recognizes over 125 nations that play cricket, but the United States does not make the list; cricket is one of the least popular sports played in America. What’s the reason behind this aversion?
Cricket became a worldwide sport due to the expansion of the British Empire throughout the 19th century. Developed in southern England in the 16th century, cricket spread to British colonies such as Australia and India. However, cricket didn’t have the same impact in America as it did in other British colonies. Historically speaking, Americans are dissenters. The first Americans escaped persecution in England and wished to cut all ties with their mother country: England. Evidently, the American Revolution consolidated this separation. However, the British had greater influence on its other colonies, so despite gaining independence, new nations still favored cricket over other sports. On the other hand, rebellious Americans decided to take a new path; baseball evolved from cricket and was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States by the 19th century. After the Civil War, nationalism exploded and baseball helped contribute to a new sense of national identity.
Baseball and cricket are just too similar; both involve a bat, a ball, and running. It’s difficult for Americans to support cricket when baseball is at least its equivalent. In addition, international cricket isn’t broadcast in America. The U.S. lacks a major team, there are no highlights on ESPN (the “center” of all sports), and there are no stadiums to sell out. The few dedicated American cricket fans can watch matches online, but they support teams from other parts of the world, much like the situation in soccer.
It would take many years for cricket to be integrated into American sports. Consequently, it would take a lot of patience, something Americans lack. First of all,the rules and terminology for cricket are much different than baseball’s. Americans would have to learn terminology such as “bowler” instead of “pitcher” and “wicket keeper” instead of “catcher”. Furthermore, cricket has a 360 degree field with all of the action happening in the center. These are basic elements of the game which would make cricket incomprehensible to most Americans. And finally, perhaps the most momentous difference between cricket and baseball is the playing time. Americans definitely do not have the patience to play or watch a game which can last for days.
Cricket does not fit in with the American definition of sports. Americans like to see lots of action in a short period of time. In cricket, a team may score 300 to 400 runs… over the course of three days. In soccer, many games end in a draw, sometimes even goalless draws. In sports like baseball, basketball, and football, there is usually a decisive winner (very few football games end in a tie.) Cricket doesn’t have to be implemented into American sports though. The U.S. has always defied the status quo (we still refuse to convert to the metric system). We have always decided to take the path less taken, and in the process, we have created a national identity unique from the rest of the world.