93% of People Can't Ace This General Sports Knowledge Quiz. Can You?



By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

When you think about it, few human activities are quite as diverse as sports. Some of them are the kind that a lot of us play recreationally or do for exercise; these include swimming or basketball. But there are others we can only watch, because we don't have the money or we aren't in the physical condition for it, or we live in the wrong part of the world. These would include downhill skiing or boxing.

Some of these spectator sports are ones we can watch nearly every day (in season) like baseball. Others, we become passionate about for two weeks during every Olympics, then forget for four years. (We're looking at you, figure skating!)

And what defines a sport, really? You might have heard the joke about golf: "If you can eat and drink while doing it, it's not really a sport." Yet golf IS considered a sport, while people don't always grant that name to professional bull riding or ballroom dancing. 

How much do you know about this fascinating and diverse world, its popular figures, and its great moments? To help you test your knowledge, we've designed a quiz that includes a little bit of everything, from swimming to MMA, sports you can play at the Y, and the ones you can only watch on TV. So if you've got that competitive itch, settle in and test your sports savvy now!

What is generally considered to be the world's most popular sport?

Soccer, called "football" in the rest of the English-speaking world (and by similar names elsewhere), is pretty clearly the world's most popular sport. American enthusiasts -- like professional player turned actor Andrew Shue in the 1990s -- have tried to get the U.S. in step with the rest of the world, but with no real luck.


Which of these is the most popular sport, in terms of attendance, in the United States?

The NFL has the highest attendance of any American professional sport. Likewise, its annual championship, the Super Bowl, is the most-watched sports event (with the possible exception of the Olympic Games, which aren't annual).


Which sport did Michael Phelps excel in?

Phelps was a standout swimmer from an early age. His body seems to have been built for swimming, including hands one commentator called "the span of dinner plates."


In which sport do players win a Cy Young Award?

The Cy Young Award is for pitchers in baseball. Young, who played in the early 20th century, won a record 511 games.


Which of these strokes in swimming is generally considered the most challenging?

A swimmer might have difficulty with any of the four main strokes. But most swimmers will tell you that the butterfly takes the most out of you. A few laps of butterfly at top speed will get your heart rate up like nothing else.


What sport did James Naismith create?

Naismith created one of the only sports to be American in origin. Basketball was named for its use of peach baskets as goals. Fun fact: James Naismith was born in Canada.


A hockey game is divided into _____.

There are three periods in a professional ice hockey game. The clock stops running when the puck is not in play.


Which of these teams won the first Super Bowl?

The Indian Packing Company, which was in the meat business, gave money to Curly Lambeau to start up his football team. Today, given the Packers' prominence, this would be a pretty sweet sponsorship deal; unfortunately, the Indian Packing Company is now defunct.


In which of these sports does the defense have the ball?

At first glance, this almost doesn't seem possible. But in baseball, the ball is almost always under the control of the team on defense -- from the pitcher to the catcher, to infielders or outfielders. It's only when the defense loses control of the ball -- a hit -- that the team on offense can advance and score.


In what sport did Junior Johnson compete?

Johnson was a moonshine runner before turning to professional racing. (This wasn't actually uncommon in the sport's early days). He's now a legendary name in the field.


Which sport caused an astounding 19 deaths in its early professional days?

Rugby fans tend to sneer at American football for its use of helmets. They cool off, however, when reminded of the 19-death year. Today, there are growing concerns about concussions and brain damage. The debate about the safety of football isn't over yet.


Which sport has "Marquess of Queensbury" rules?

The Queensbury rules were formulated in the 1860s in England, to make boxing more civilized. This was essential in a sport that, in ancient times, was sometimes pursued to the death.


What sport did Sen. John McCain call "human cockfighting"?

The young sport of mixed-martial arts grew out of a classic debate in fighting: Which style is the best? From this came octagon bouts in which fighters could mix up styles, from kickboxing to grappling on the mat. But not everyone was a fan, as McCain's comment indicated.


Who did Muhammad Ali fight in the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle"?

This boxing match was held in the nation once called Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ali won the fight in the eighth round. By knockout, naturally, because he was the GOAT!


Which of these sports has a "scrum"?

Rugby players fight for the ball in a tight knot of players, called the "scrum." In the center, players called "hookers" try to kick the ball backward toward the rest of their team members.


Which sport debuted at the 1998 winter Olympic Games?

Though seen as comparable to skiing, snowboarding owes a lot to skateboarding and its culture. Some athletes compete in both sports.


Which sport has sub-classifications of epee, foil or saber?

Fencing has three disciplines. Foil is the most basic in terms of rules, epee allows the entire body to be a target, and saber allows sideways strikes (aka slashing).


Which of these states is particularly known for its devotion to high school basketball?

The movie, "Hoosiers," was inspired by the religion of high-school basketball in Indiana's small towns. Basketball is also popular among Native American youths in the Plains states.


Which of these countries is a hockey-loving nation?

Not surprisingly, it's cold, snowy Canada that loves ice hockey. We're still surprised that a war didn't break out when Edmonton Oilers star Wayne Gretsky defected to the Los Angeles Kings.


In what sport did the "Miracle on Ice" take place?

The "Miracle on Ice" happened at the 1980 winter Olympic Games, when the young, inexperienced U.S. team upset the powerhouse USSR team. Notably, this happened at the height of the Cold War, in front of an American crowd in Lake Placid, New York -- Hollywood couldn't have scripted it better.


Who is the most medaled Olympian of all time?

Phelps came out of retirement to add to his already-impressive medal count at the Rio Olympics in 2016. His total: 28 medals, of which only two are bronze.


"The Natural," Bull Durham" and "Eight Men Out" are all about which sport?

Baseball has drawn the attention of fiction writers more than almost any other sport. There's practically a sub genre of Kevin Costner baseball films: The classic "Field of Dreams," "Bull Durham" and "For the Love of the Game."


In 2001, WWE chief executive Vince McMahon tried to create his own league of which sport?

The XFL was a league that was supposed to play games in the NFL off-season. Its rough play and showmanship was modeled on pro wrestling. It only lasted one season.


Are the Harlem Globetrotters part of the NBA?

The Globetrotters are an exhibition team. They entertain crowds with trick shots, elaborate passing, and comedy routines.


In which sport did Kurt Angle win gold for the U.S. in 1996?

Angle won his gold at the Atlanta games. He went on to join the WWE, where, he noted in his autobiography, many of the pro wrestlers wanted to challenge him in backstage matches.


In which track-and-field event would you see a "Fosbury flop"?

Dick Fosbury turned the track-and-field world on its ear (or its back?) by "flopping" over the high-jump bar backwards. At first, people laughed ... but today, his technique is standard practice.


Which of these is an ongoing controversy in US college and professional sports?

You might make a case for any of the other three, but the most thorny issue is the use of Indian team names and mascots. Native Americans object to the co-opting and trivialization of their culture, but little headway has been made in re-naming teams like the Atlanta Braves or Cleveland Indians.


Why is the L.A. basketball team called the Lakers?

Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" and Minneapolis the "City of Lakes," so this used to make sense. Also in L.A.: The Dodgers, who got their name from their Brooklyn days, when their fans were called "trolley dodgers" for the way they ducked the trolleys that ran outside the ballpark.


Which of these sports is a forerunner of baseball?

Baseball is considered the quintessentially American sport -- but its roots are overseas, in England. Cricket is still a very popular sport in India, where it was introduced by British colonists.


Dock Ellis, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, threw a no-hitter under what odd condition?

Yes, Ellis had taken lysergic acid thinking he didn't have to pitch that day. On being told otherwise, Ellis went out and pitched the game of his life. If other major-league pitchers have tried to follow in Ellis's footsteps, they've wisely kept it to themselves.


In which sport would you watch the Six Nations tournament?

The six nations are England, Ireland, France, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Rugby-loving Australia and New Zealand are left out of this all-Europe tournament.


In recent years, which of these nations has provided many rising stars to figure skating?

Traditionally, Europe and North America have dominated this sport, but Japan has made great inroads. In 1988, Midori Ito became the first woman to land a triple axel in competition. More recently, Mao Asada, Yuzuru Hanyu and Daisuke Takahashi have all medaled at the Olympic Games.


Which of these is NOT considered a sport?

All of these have some claim to "sport-hood." They're all done competitively, and ballroom dancers and bullriders are often in physical condition that would put a golfer to shame.


If you are playing quidditch, where are you?

Quidditch, the sport in the Harry Potter novels, seems loosely based on field hockey, except, of course, that it's played on flying brooms. Fun fact: J.K. Rowling was reportedly relieved when the seventh novel took place during a magical "wartime," as it meant she didn't have to write a quidditch scene. She said it was increasingly difficult to make the games different from each other and interesting to read.


In what sport might you encounter the Sicilian Defense?

The Sicilian Defense is an opening in chess, which is not commonly considered a sport -- although people do pay to watch it at the highest level.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!