Though the N.C.A.A. remains immensely popular — at least judging by the amount of attention still paid to March Madness — its older brother, the National Basketball Association, has recently lost ground to Major League Soccer. (Yes, soccer. Association football.) The Sporting News compiled the average attendance of the NBA, MLS, and the National Hockey League, and found the 20-year-old soccer league exceeded both leagues, with an average of attendance of 17,872 spectators among its 18 clubs during the past season. In the same period of time, the NBA and the NHL drew an average of 17,323 and 17,132 spectators per game, respectively.
Put more simply, Major League Soccer attracted 549 more fans per game than than the NBA. The inevitable New York Times trend piece almost writes itself.
Of course, soccer is still no peer to either football or baseball, at least in the United States. The NFL drew more than 67,394 spectators per game in the last regular season, while an average of 30,895 spectators filled the stands of Major League Baseball stadiums. Check out our handy chart for a better idea of the numbers: