Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fringe sports looking to attract bigger fan bases

Beyond the big four professional sports leagues in the U.S. (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL), there are a host of others trying to break through to a wider audience.
Some are in the second tier of professional sports, such as NASCAR, PGA golf, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Major League Soccer.
Others are in the third tier or below. What follows is a list of some of the many lesser sports leagues.

Professional Bowlers Association 

The Professional Bowlers Association is the major sanctioning body for the sport of professional 10-pin bowling in the U.S. It was founded in 1958.

Major League Roller Hockey 

Major League Roller Hockey is one of two professional inline hockey leagues in the U.S. It has 20 teams nationwide.

Professional Inline Hockey Association 

The Professional Inline Hockey Association is the other pro inline hockey league in the U.S. The PIHA is composed of 15 teams in Colorado, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

National Lacrosse League 

The National Lacrosse League is a men’s professional indoor lacrosse league in North America. It currently has nine teams, with five in the U.S. and four in Canada.

Major League Lacrosse 

Major League Lacrosse is a men’s field lacrosse league that is made up of eight teams in the U.S.

USA Rugby League 

The USA Rugby League was founded in 2011 by clubs that had broken with the American National Rugby League. The USA Rugby League has 11 teams.

Association of Volleyball Professionals 

Established in 1983, the AVP runs volleyball events worldwide, including the popular AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.

Extreme Volleyball Professionals 

The EVP produces a beach volleyball tour, with events in six U.S. cities.

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association 

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctions rodeos in 37 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.

Professional Bull Riders 

Professional Bull Riders is an international professional bull riding organization based in Pueblo, Colo. And I thought PBR was a cheap beer.

American Bicycle Association 

The American Bicycle Association, aka USA BMX, is a professional BMX bike racing association.

American Ultimate Disc League 

American Ultimate Disc League is one of two professional ultimate Frisbee leagues in the U.S. Its inaugural season began in April 2012. The league currently has 17 teams. Ultimate is a bit like football with Frisbees.

Major League Ultimate 

Major League Ultimate is the other professional ultimate Frisbee league in the U.S. Its inaugural season began in April 2013. It now has eight teams.

Arena Football League 

The Arena Football League is an indoor football league founded in 1987. In 2012, the struggling league took on a sponsor and is now officially called the Net10 Wireless Arena Football League.

World TeamTennis 

Like the Arena Football League, World TeamTennis struck a sponsorship naming deal. It’s officially called Mylan World TeamTennis under a three-year deal reached with the pharmaceuticals company in 2013. The coed professional tennis league is now in its 39th season.

Pro Watercross Tour 

The International Jet Sports Boating Association and Upstate Watercraft Promotions created the Pro Watercross Tour, which showcases the best jet-ski racers.

Alli Sports 


Extreme sports, like the X-Games, are no stranger to sponsorships. Just check out Alli Sports, a division of the NBC Sports Group. It describes itself as a “media, event and branded content company that specializes in action, adventure, and adrenaline based sports,” including skateboarding, BMX, Motocross, snowboarding and freeski. Its events all have major sponsors. They include the Dew Tour sponsored by Mountain Dew, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and Red Bull Signature Series.

Photo: AVP star Morgan Beck Miller.

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