Due to the enduring popularity of ice hockey, over 1.3 million Canadians actively participate in recreational hockey leagues on a regular basis. But aside from this long-standing national pastime, Canada is also known for a number of less obvious sports. Continue reading to find out what they are and how their admiration in the country came to be.
Golf was first introduced to the inhabitants of Canada in the early 15th century. Since then, it has achieved nationwide acclaim and gone on to become one of the country’s most popular pastimes. Over time, Canada has produced some of the greatest golfing talent the world has ever seen as well as millions of amateur players that enjoy teeing off at some of the country’s 100 golf courses. Due to the everlasting popularity of the sport, Canada is home to a number of global golf tournaments that attract thousands of golf fans from all over the world every year such as the Canadian Open and the PGA Tour.
Canadian football is a form of grid football consisting of two teams of 12 players. It originated from rugby football in the early 1860s before evolving into the sport Canadians up and down the country know and love today. The Canadian Football League is the highest level of competition in Canadian football whilst amateur matches are managed and governed by Football Canada. The Canadian Football League Championship is one of the country’s most anticipated sporting events with millions of viewers tuning in or snapping up tickets each year. As well as attending matches in person, fans can also monitor the outcome of each game from the comfort of their own homes where Canadian citizens can legally bet online.
Due to Canada’s naturally cold climate, a number of the country’s most popular sports revolve around ice. Curling is one of them. Whilst it may not necessarily be a common, or even well-known, sport outside of Canada’s borders, it has a sizable fan base in the Prairie provinces of Manitoba and Alberta in particular. Curling is coordinated by Curling Canada which hosts several nationwide championships each year. The Canadian Curling Club Championship, for example, is recognised for nurturing awareness of the sport and thrusting it into the mainstream.
Whilst the United States may be the unofficial home of modern basketball, the inventor of the sport, James Naismith, was born in Almonte. Canada is also home to an NBA team in the form of the Toronto Raptors. In 2019, they achieved the feat of a lifetime by beating the Golden State Warriors to walk away with the NBA Championship. The final score, which was largely unexpected by fans of both teams, not only proved they are worthy of their position within the NBA but resulted in a staggering 15.9 million Canadians, or 44% of the entire population, watching the NBA finals. On a global scale, Canada has also made a name for itself on the world stage with stand-out performances in the FIBA Basketball World Cup as well as the Summer Olympics.
Rugby may be closely associated with New Zealand, South Africa, England, Ireland, France, and Wales, but Canada has its own claim to fame. Since the early 1800s, the sport has been a popular pastime in the country. Today, Canada boasts 29 rugby players and is considered a two-tier rugby nation. The Canadian Rugby Championship and the Americas Rugby Championship have also paved the way for the sport to become a fan favourite on a nationwide scale. Whilst it may not be the first choice for sports fans in the country, its popularity is steadily rising.
Lacrosse may not necessarily mean much to non-Canadians, but it has been one of Canada’s greatest, and most popular, sports since the early 17th century. A relatively fast-paced game, it is not for the fainthearted. Officially recognised as an Olympic game, it is widely considered to be the unofficial summer sport of the nation. Each year, it attracts thousands of lacrosse fans or sports fans looking to catch a glimpse of the action-packed nature of the game. Over the years, Canada has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the global lacrosse community. This was apparent in 2006 when the country won their first tournament in over 28 years with a victory over the United States.
With the origins of cricket introduced to Canada in 1892, it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. As a result, it boasts over 14,000 players in total. The National T20 Championship and Scotia Shield U-19 has also contributed to a dramatic rise in popularity of the competitive sport. Canada is not sanctioned to play Test matches but does tend to take part in One Day International matches as well as first-class games against fellow non-Test teams. Whilst no longer a major sport, it is a popular pastime with the potential for nationwide growth.
Hockey and Canada go together like bacon and maple syrup. Another ice-based sport, it has been the nation’s most popular sporting pastime for centuries. But aside from amateur matches, Canada is also home to seven National Hockey League teams such as Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Montreal, and Calgary. These games tend to be watched by the majority of ice hockey fans in the country with an estimated 68% of the viewership of the 2018 National Hockey League playoffs Canadian fans. As a result, it comes as no surprise that ice hockey is the most popular sport in Canada.
Whilst Canada has been closely associated with ice hockey for a number of centuries, it is also home to golf, Canadian football, curling, basketball, rugby, lacrosse, and cricket. Most sports and athletics have been embraced by Canada, including volleyball, soccer, cycling, running, all forms of snow sports, gymnastics and more, but these are considered some Canada’s more popular ones. As a naturally cold country, its inhabitants tend to favour ice-based sports or sports that can be played outdoors. As a result, the country has historically achieved greater success at the Winter Olympics as opposed to the Summer Olympics.