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Major League Soccer Threatens to Replace the NHL as One of the Big Four US Sports

More than a million kids play soccer—four times the number who play hockey.
relates to Major League Soccer Threatens to Replace the NHL as One of the Big Four US Sports
Illustration: George Wylesol for Bloomberg Businessweek

The National Hockey League postseason is under way, with the Tampa Bay Lightning seeking a three-peat Stanley Cup victory. It comes as the NHL itself faces a similar test: Can it retain its status as one of North America’s Big Four professional sports leagues?

For the better part of a century the US has mostly obsessed over the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the NHL. But while the NHL and NBA for many years were neck and neck in the battle for the third spot, the past few decades have seen hockey cede ground to the orange ball.