Why Basketball is Better Than (American) Football

American football was invented in 1867 and became popular with college students who wanted an alternative to rugby.

The first professional league started in 1920, but it wasn’t until 1946 when they added 8 teams from across America.

The NFL (National Football League) is now made up of 32 franchises located all over North America.

Basketball on the other hand began way back in 1895, when Dr. James Naismith thought about how he could improve physical education for his Massachusetts school’s athletes.

He came up with several different variations of exercise balls which were then used in his original YMCA training program.

In 1939, there were only 16 colleges participating in this new sport called “basketball.”

Today there are more than 100 Division 1 schools competing every year.

There are also hundreds of pickup games happening everyday around the country.

So, what makes them so different?

What makes one sports’ popularity higher than another?

It’s not just because people prefer one or the other, there are actually very good arguments as to why basketball is better than American football.

Basketball is considered a better sport than American football because the former is a diverse and gender-neutral sport that can be played by anyone. And unlike football, basketball can be played at any indoor or outdoor location, with the game also comprising of simple to understand rules.

What are the reasons why basketball is better than football?

With that brief summary given, let’s now take a more detailed look!

1. Basketball is a diverse sport that can be played by anyone

why basketball is better than football - diverse sport that can be played by anyone

A major reason why Americans love playing pick-up basketball is due to its diversity.

With such a wide variety of players, everyone feels like they have something to offer the team.

People of all races, genders, skill levels and ages feel included.

This promotes teamwork among teammates and encourages people to try out if they want to join.

Another positive aspect to picking up ballgame is you get to meet your neighbors, friends and family while having fun together.

You might even end up starting a business relationship with these people.

2. Basketball can be played at any location

why basketball is better than football - can be played at any location

Pickup basketball isn’t limited to courts or gymnasiums, whereas American football can’t be played indoors as it needs a grass surface that mostly can only be found outside.

Although professional football teams have stadiums with retractable roofing, the majority of high school and college teams don’t have access to such facilities.

What this means is that people have to sit outside in the cold during the autumn and winter months whenever they want to watch a game.

Conversely, unlike American football whose home field consists of stadiums and parks, basketball can be practiced anywhere there’s enough space to set up a court.

As long as there’s room to run, jump and pass the ball, then you’ve got yourself a basketball court.

Some places include parking lots, apartment complexes, backyard ovals, playgrounds, etc.

Just think of the possibilities!

Instead of going to the store to buy tickets to go watch your favorite team, you’ll be practicing away from home during the week.

Or maybe you live near a university campus where there are plenty of open gyms.

All you need is a ball and two feet to enjoy hours of quality hoops action.

Also, unlike the NFL where stadiums are designed specifically for large crowds watching high paced exciting plays, the majority of basketball venues are smaller and older.

They usually consist of concrete bleachers instead of stadium seating.

Fans tend to sit closer together allowing them to hear everything said on the side lines and vice versa.

This creates intimate environments filled with energy and excitement.

One notable exception of course is Madison Square Garden which holds more than 20,000 spectators.

In addition to arenas, basketball can be enjoyed on city streets and sidewalks.

Local governments are slowly beginning to realize that keeping youth occupied indoors does nothing besides promote violence and crime.

Nowadays cities are installing basketball nets along busy thoroughfares and encouraging local residents to use them whenever possible.

By doing this, the police are saving money spent on law enforcement officers, plus they provide a safe environment for kids to play safely.

3. A regular basketball season has many games

why basketball is better than football - more games played per season

Another important factor that contributes to why basketball is better than American football is the amount of games played.

The NBA season is usually 82 games long – 41 at home and 41 away for each team within the division.

This gives basketball players extra opportunity to develop chemistry and improve their overall talent level.

Meanwhile, the number of games played in the NFL is cut down significantly.

American football players participating in this professional league only get a measly 17 regular season games and three pre-season games per campaign.

Which means that only the first-team starters see significant minutes compared to basketball.

Thus, the best football players get stuck on bench duty waiting for their turn to shine.

4. Basketball has simple game rules

why basketball is better than football - simple rule set

John Naismith originally invented the basketball game with only 13 rules.


You read that right!

And despite the fact that the sport has grown in popularity and evolved over the decades to include a few more regulations, it’s still fairly simple to get the hang of.

Any person can learn the intricacies of the game in a couple of hours.

On the other hand, American football can be quite complex as the rules are very situational.

More so, learning how to play this sport can take quite a long time because there are so many aspects of the game that players need to be aware of.

There’s a saying amongst people who play basketball — “It takes 20% skill, 80% heart”.

Although this statement may sound cliché, it shows how true basketball really is.

To put it simply, the difference between winning and losing comes down to effort.

No matter how skilled someone thinks they are, they’d be nowhere without hard work.

This is especially evident in pickup games where people of all backgrounds come together to share their passion for the sport.

Everyone wants to win, but nobody cares who wins unless it affects them personally.

Unlike football where scoring points is essential to victory, basketball focuses more on defense, rebounding and passing the ball accurately.

These factors are proven to determine whether a team will lose or win regardless of individual performances.

In fact, even seasoned court professionals admit that the final score doesn’t tell the whole story.

5. Basketball has fewer serious injuries

Although the blog has a post that details why basketball has the most injury occurrence levels of all sports, it’s safe to say that the severity of these injuries are typically not as life threatening as those sustained playing American football.

The constant hits to the body that players deal with in American football is quite frightening to see, as the collisions are really forceful.

Have a look at the footage below to see how impactful this game is:

Injuries to the head are frequently seen and there’s been a lot of commentary in recent years pointing out how continuous blows to the skull can cause season- and career-ending injuries that can severely affect a person’s quality of life in their later years.

7. Basketball is a more gender-neutral sport

why basketball is better than football - gender neutral sport

Finally, and perhaps most disappointingly, American football is predominantly played by men.

You won’t see much if any coverage of women participating in this game, which is a shame.

On the flip side, basketball is played by both sexes at all levels – be it elementary school level, high school, college or even semi-professionally and professionally.

Basketball is definitely seen as the more inclusive of the two sports, and it’s usually so good to see women enjoying themselves out on the court in the same way that the men who play this sport often do.

Is basketball more popular than American football?

This is a hard no!

American football has basketball beaten in this regard, as the sport is the most popular spectator sport to watch in the United States.

Outside of America, however, basketball can make a strong case to usurp American football in popularity.


Overall, I believe both sports are equally entertaining and beneficial to society.

But based on my personal experience, I find basketball to be superior to American football.

Its simplicity helps young children grasp complex concepts quicker, while the diversity keeps experienced adults engaged.

At least that’s how I felt after trying both sports.

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About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.