Hello, NCAA sports fans!
Are you eager to dive into the world of college athletics?
Explore our NCAA sports list, sorted by popularity for your convenience.
Whether you’re a diehard devotee or a curious newcomer, there’s a sport here to capture your interest and passion!
Table of Contents
Basketball was invented in 1891 by Canadian-American physical education instructor James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. The sport quickly gained popularity and is now a favorite across the United States and the world.
The NCAA organizes the annual men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments, known for their “March Madness.” Basketball has been an Olympic sport since 1936, with the USA traditionally dominating the competition.
Soccer, or football as it is known outside North America, has its origins in ancient civilizations, but the modern standardized version of the sport was developed in England in the 19th century.
Today, soccer is the most popular sport globally, with a strong following among college athletes in the United States. The NCAA organizes separate men’s and women’s soccer championships annually. Soccer has been an Olympic sport since the 1900 Paris Games.
#3 Cross Country
Cross Country is a long-distance running sport that originated in England in the early 19th century. The first international cross country race was held in 1898, and it has since grown in popularity worldwide.
The NCAA organizes championships for men’s and women’s cross country yearly. Though not an individual Olympic sport, cross country is included in the Winter Olympic Games’ Nordic Combined event and is part of the modern pentathlon event during the Summer Olympics.
#4 Track and Field (Outdoor)
Track and field has its roots in ancient Greece and has been a central part of the Olympic Games since their inception in 776 BCE. Outdoor track and field events include various running, jumping, and throwing disciplines.
The NCAA organizes separate men’s and women’s outdoor track and field championships annually. Track and field events are a significant part of the Summer Olympic Games competition.
#5 Track and Field (Indoor)
Indoor track and field is a variation of outdoor track and field that takes place in indoor arenas during the winter months. It differs slightly from its outdoor counterpart through event modifications and a smaller venue size.
The NCAA conducts indoor track and field championships for men’s and women’s athletes every year. Indoor track and field is not an Olympic sport but has its own international championships, such as the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Tennis is believed to have been derived from medieval handball games, with the modern version of the sport emerging in England during the 19th century. Tennis is popular worldwide, with the NCAA organizing annual men’s and women’s tennis championships.
The sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1896 (with a hiatus between 1924 and 1984) and features four prestigious Grand Slam tournaments each year: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.
Golf’s origins can be traced back to 15th-century Scotland, and it is now a beloved sport played worldwide. College athletes in the United States participate in the NCAA men’s and women’s golf championships held annually.
Golf has been a part of the Olympic Games on and off, with its most recent return in the 2016 Rio Games.
Baseball is an American sport with roots dating back to the 18th century. While it has gained some international popularity, it remains primarily popular in the United States, with the NCAA organizing the annual College World Series for men.
Baseball was part of the Olympic program from 1992 to 2008 and returned in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
American football evolved from earlier forms of rugby and soccer during the late 19th century in the United States. It is now a beloved sport with a strong college fanbase and important athletic programs across the country.
Football is not an Olympic sport, but the NCAA has a vibrant college football landscape, culminating in the annual College Football Playoff for top-tier schools.
#10 Swimming and Diving
Swimming has a long history, with early evidence dating back to 7,000 BCE in the Stone Age. Competitive swimming grew internationally in the late 19th century.
Today, the NCAA organizes separate men’s and women’s swimming and diving championships annually. Swimming events have been part of the Olympic Games since their modern inception in 1896, with diving events added in 1904.
More NCAA Sports
- Lacrosse: Originating from Native American tribe games, lacrosse was further developed by French settlers in the 17th century. Today, it is popular in the United States and Canada, with the NCAA organizing annual men’s and women’s championships. Lacrosse is not an Olympic sport but has international competitions, such as the World Lacrosse Championship.
- Wrestling: With origins in ancient civilizations, wrestling became a formalized sport in ancient Greece. Today, it is popular worldwide, with the NCAA organizing separate men’s wrestling championships annually. Wrestling has been a part of the Olympic Games since their modern inception in 1896.
- Volleyball: Invented by William G. Morgan in 1895 as a combination of basketball, baseball, tennis, and handball, volleyball gained worldwide popularity. The NCAA organizes men’s and women’s championships annually. Volleyball has been an Olympic sport since the 1964 Tokyo Games, with beach volleyball added in 1996.
- Ice Hockey: Originating from stick-and-ball games played on ice in the 19th century, ice hockey became an official sport in Canada, later spreading to other countries. The NCAA organizes separate men’s and women’s ice hockey championships. Ice hockey has been an Olympic sport since 1920.
- Water Polo: Developed in the late 19th century in England and Scotland, water polo is now popular internationally. The NCAA organizes separate men’s and women’s water polo championships. Water polo has been an Olympic sport since the 1900 Paris Games for men and the 2000 Sydney Games for women.
- Gymnastics: With roots in ancient civilizations, gymnastics was formalized in the 19th century and has since become popular worldwide. The NCAA organizes separate men’s and women’s gymnastics championships. Gymnastics has been part of the Olympic Games since the modern games began in 1896.
- Fencing: Emerging from European swordsmanship in the 15th century, fencing has grown into a popular sport worldwide. The NCAA organizes separate men’s and women’s fencing championships. Fencing has been part of the Olympic Games since their modern inception in 1896.
- Rifle: Rifle shooting has origins in hunting and military training, with competitive shooting developing in the 19th century. The NCAA organizes a combined men’s and women’s rifle championship. Shooting sports, including rifle, have been part of the Olympic Games since 1896.
- Skiing: With origins in prehistoric times, skiing has evolved into various forms, including alpine, cross-country, and freestyle. The NCAA organizes separate skiing championships for men’s and women’s events. Skiing has been part of the Winter Olympic Games since their inception in 1924.
What are the most popular NCAA sports?
The most popular NCAA sports include basketball, soccer, cross country, track and field (both outdoor and indoor), tennis, golf, baseball, football, swimming and diving, and lacrosse.
How many different NCAA sports are there?
Our NCAA sports list includes 19 unique sports, featuring a diverse range of activities from team sports like basketball and soccer to individual competitions like wrestling and tennis.