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How much live action occurs in each sport? Ball in Play studies summarized


How much live action actually occurs in each major sport?

Note: if you’ve found this and want to make a comment about how football is such a more exiting sport than soccer, or think this is some sort of anti-football post … then you’re missing the point.  This is about LIVE ACTION stats and the viewing experience.  If you love Cricket, you’ll sit there for 5 hour test matches where there’s fractions of periods of real action.  If you love football, then you’ll sit there for hours on end.  That’s not the point here.

Editor Post-publishing Update: this was originally published in July of 2013.  Over the years I have updated this post with additional information, resulting in adjusted numbers from the original.  I’m always looking for more and better information and am all ears if you have links to these kinds of studies.

I’ve never been the biggest NFL fan, despite living in a distinctly football town here in Washington DC.  But in the past few years or so, slowly my patience for watching an entire NFL football broadcast has ended.  Notice how games used to be slated for 1pm and 4pm on Sundays?  Now they’re 1pm and 4:15pm, or maybe even 4:25pm, with seemingly all that extra time now devoted to commercials.  Every time there’s a time-out, a break in play, after every challenge, there’s more commercials.  My friends and I have a joke.  I’ll ask “Hey, what time is the 8:00 game?”  And instead of the answer being obvious … the answer is 8:15 or 8:30 or whenever they’ve now pushed the late Sunday night game thanks to the 4:00 games running late (you know, since they  now start at 4:15 or 4:25 or whenever they’re slated to start).

Ironically, the same distinct lack of action complaint is easily seen in baseball broadcasts.  So I can’t be casting too many hypocritical stones against my football-following brethren (this is a Baseball-focused blog after all).

I got to wondering; just how many frigging commercials do they really show in NFL games these days?  This pursuit led to the larger issue: How often is the ball actually in play in an NFL game?  How often are the fans just sitting there watching crowd shots or replays or pictures of cheerleaders or head coaches looking constipated?

So I started looking far and wide for “Ball in Play” studies for the 5 major professional sports to compare and contrast the TV viewer experience.  Here’s what I’ve found (all sources are listed at the bottom and referenced inline).  For some sports (Hockey and Basketball) it is relatively easy to assume that, if the clock is running, there’s action.  For the others, with either a lack of a clock (Baseball) or significant periods of inactivity while the clock is running (Soccer to some extent but especially in Football) the details are harder to come by.

  • Baseball: Per the 2013 WSJ study, Baseball games feature 17 minutes and 58 seconds of action.  Baseball games have been increasing in length (thanks in part to the eighteen annual 4-hour marathons between the glacial Boston Red Sox and equally glacial New York Yankees) over the years.  But, the amount of action has stayed roughly the same.  A 1952 TV broadcast showed about 13 minutes of action but just 9 minutes 45 seconds of commercials. The latest WSJ study found that fully 42 minutes and 41 seconds of between-inning inactivity would be purely commercial time on TV broadcasts.  That means there’s nearly 5 times as many commercials now than 50 years ago.  2015: thanks to new pace of play rules, the average length of a baseball game dropped by 6 minutes from 20142017 update: ESPN published a study of the 2017 playoffs, which have been dragging.  The average MLB playoff game in 2017 has been going 3hrs, 35mins, which is up 10 minutes from 2016 and an astonishing 21 minutes from 2015.  I get that playoffs are more strategic, that pitchers are on quick hooks b/c there’s a finite amount of time, but this 3hrs 35mins is brutal.
  • Football: Per the WSJ 2010 study, NFL games feature about 11 minutes of action.  The amount of action in football games has been roughly the same since the early 1900s.  There was roughly 13 1/2 minutes of action in 1912, and slightly less in the 2010 study.  Other studies have shown that football generally ranges between 12-17 minutes of action.  Personally I tracked one quarter of an NFL playoff game  a few years ago with these numbers: in 50 minutes of clock time we saw exactly 250 seconds of action (4 minutes, 10 seconds) accompanied by no less than 20 commercials.  And this turned out to be a relatively “easy” quarter: one time out, one two-minute warning and two challenges/reviews.  It could have been a lot worse.  More recent studies have found that things are worsening for the NFL: WP’s Fred Bowen counted the ads in a 2014 NFL game and had seen an astounding 152 advertisements during the game.  152; that was more ads than plays from scrimmage.  Update for 2015: the early returns on the first few weeks of the season show a huge up-tick in penalties, which have slowed the game by four minutes from 2014 and average times are now at 3hrs 10minutes for games.  2017 update: the NFL has made some tweaks and the average game length through 2 weeks is down significantly, to 3hrs 4mins from 3hrs 15minutes in 2016.
  • Basketball: NBA games average 2 hours and 18 minutes in actual time.  Working backwards (since the clock only runs when the ball is in play and we know there’s exactly 48 minutes of play time) we know that there’s 138-48 = 90 minutes of “down time” of some sort in a typical NBA game.  Not all of that is commercial time but all of it is inaction.  I cannot find any documentation of typical number of commercials so i’ve just split the difference between on-screen inaction and off-screen commercials in the table below.  If you’re a big-time NBA watcher and feel this isn’t fair, please comment as such.
  • Hockey: The Livestrong piece below (side note: why is Livestrong doing “ball-in-play” studies on Hockey?) quotes average NHL games being 2hours and 19minutes in the 2003-4 season.  Working backwards from this, you have three 20-minute periods and two 17 minute intermissions, which leaves 46 minutes of remaining idle time.  Given that the idle times in Hockey are not nearly as long as those in basketball, I’m going to estimate that about 2/3rds of that 46minutes is commercials.
  • Soccer: Per the website 2011 study, between 62 and 65 minutes of ball-in-play action is seen on average in the major European pro leagues per game.  For the table below i’ll use 64 minutes as an average.  The duration of pro soccer games is relatively easy to calculate: they fit neatly into a 2 hour window by virtue of its 45minute halves, 15 minute break and an average of 3 minutes added-time on either side of the halves.  45+45+3+3+15 = 111 minutes of a 2 hour/120 minute time period.  Thanks to a bit of fluff on either side of the game, you generally count a soccer broadcast to last 1 hour and 55 minutes.  In the table below i’ve assumed that a huge portion of the intermission is commercial; in fact it is a lot less since most soccer broadcasts have a half-time show and highlights.  So if anything, the # of commercials in soccer broadcasts is less than listed.  Post 2014 World Cup Update: FIFA estimates that the group stage games averaged 57.6 minutes of action per game (if i’m reading their stat page correctly).  I’ll use this as the number going forward, even though World Cup games might be a bit “slower” than your average pro soccer game due to the careful, tactical nature of most of the matches.

So, in summary, here’s how the five major sports look like in terms of Ball in Play and # of commercials the viewer is forced to endure in a typical broadcast:

Sport Clock Duration Amt of Action % of Action Amt of Commercial Time Est # of 30-second commercials # of commercials/hour
Baseball 2hrs 56mins 17mins, 58secs 10.21% 42.68 85 29
Football 3hrs 10mins 11mins 5.79% 75 150 47
Soccer 1hr 55mins 57.6mins 50.09% 19 38 20
Basketball 2hrs 18mins 48mins 34.78% 45 90 39
Hockey 2hrs 20mins 60mins 42.86% 30 60 26

From this you can clearly see that watching Soccer gives you the most amount of live “Action,” though cynics and soccer-haters would probably claim that a lot of that action is “dead action,” defenders passing the ball around and not the type of action you see in other sports.  I’m a soccer fan and would rather have this type of “dead action” than what we see in the NFL: one 3 second running play then more than 30 seconds of watching players stand around before running another 3 second running play.  Don’t be fooled; there’s plenty of dead action in other sports too that gets counted as “live action” here … players walking the ball up the court in slow motion for 10 seconds in Basketball, the dumping of the puck to the end of the ice to facilitate a line shift in Hockey, etc.  So this kind of analysis is not an exact science.

Soccer is easily the most predictable of the five sports to plan a viewing experience around; you know for a fact that a regular-season/non-Overtime game is going to be over within 2 hours.  All the other sports can go into over-time and lengthen the time commitment.

Professional Football is at the bottom of all of these Viewer-experience measures: it is the longest broadcast, shows the least amount of game action and forces around 50 commercials an hour onto its viewers.  And the NFL is only getting worse; recent years have seen the introduction of new commercial breaks where none existed before (after a kickoff being the most ridiculous, but the mandated booth reviews at the end of halves now gift-wrap new commercial breaks to broadcasters at a game’s most critical time).

Thoughts?  If you have better information I’m all ears.  I’ve had very good suggestions to add to this data stuff like College Football, College Basketball and Tennis.  Perhaps some day with more research we’ll revisit.



Written by Todd Boss

July 17th, 2013 at 8:20 am

130 Responses to 'How much live action occurs in each sport? Ball in Play studies summarized'

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  1. Todd, thanks for putting this together. I found this information very interesting and enlightening. I played colege football and baseball and broadcasted both, as well as basketball but I have become a huge soccer fan. My freind from Uganda complained about football, “what is this sport? you run a play then hold a committee meeting! It is more committee meetings than sport!” Loved his analogy. I truly beleive soccer is going to continue to make inroads in the USA. There are so many advantages to playing it. I am 51 and still playing competitive soccer. Recenlty finshed playing baseball too. I could never do that with American football. I have in mind to work on a piece that demonstrates superiority of soccer over other sports. Thanks again for doing this research.

    Eric M

    4 Sep 13 at 10:17 am

  2. You bet; i’m glad you liked the work. If you ever come across more research that proves/disproves/supports the numbers here I’m all ears.

    Todd Boss

    4 Sep 13 at 10:32 am

  3. In hockey and basketball, the clock stops when the puck/ball goes out of bounds. This is not so in soccer. I would argue if one is to “calculate” the amount of actual playing time in baseball and football, then it should also be done for soccer, by subtracting the amount of time the ball is out of play.


    17 Jun 14 at 8:17 am

  4. That’s exactly how these calculations were done. If it wasn’t, then the number for soccer would be 90 minutes for a 90 minute game.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jun 14 at 9:17 am

  5. Question for you. Don’t you feel that if soccer were to become commercially successful, these numbers would go down. Every other sport listed has seen a dramatic increase in commercialization in the last 30 years. If soccer ever did take off in the US, salaries would increase as would every thing else. That money would have to come from somewhere. More commercials , more stopping time. I feel it would become more on par with basketball if that happened ( which is still one of my favorite sports) Realize of course that I am only talking about in the US( your data is from US leagues)

    Charles Bland

    18 Jun 14 at 1:24 pm

  6. Hard to say. Remember back when MLS started and there started to be local broadcasts of World Cup games, we’d see split screens and like 5 minute periods where a static advertisement would be co-present on the screen with the soccer? That stopped (as did any bastardization of the MLS game, which at the beginning included shootouts to resolve ties and a “countdown clock”). But yet salaries and exposure in MLS has only risen. Nobody would dare to broadcast international soccer that way now.

    I think advertising on the jerseys helps. I think the omnipresent scoreboards along the side of the pitch help too (that’s unique to soccer … you get some similar advertising behind home plate in baseball but there’s nothing like it in NFL/NBA). So that helps. I suppose there’s just limited revenues to be made in soccer as compared to the other major sports.

    We also could begin to see situations like what we see in Nascar; they don’t stop the race to show ads; they just show the ads and come back to recap any action. Maybe that’s a good model.

    I tell you what appeals to me as a soccer fan watching on TV versus the other sports: I know when a soccer match is ending, and I know my time committment is under two hours. I know I have a period of time to take care of things/get food/go to the bathroom during halftime. There’s no interuptions. And the ball is really almost constantly moving; the only sport that comes close to action per minute is hockey.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jun 14 at 4:23 pm

  7. Thank you for doing this research, this is great. Only thing I want to add is the sport of Rugby has a similar viewing experience like soccer. It has two 40 minute halves with the clock running continuously. Very fun sport to watch with lots of fast paced action…where the games are completed in about 2 hours.

    Appreciate your work and thank you again!

    John Vergis

    23 Jun 14 at 8:05 am

  8. Rugby; i’d be interested to see this same study for Rugby. While it seems like it’d result in similar percentages to Hockey and Soccer in terms of the ball being in play, it seems to me there’s a lot of downtime in Rugby too. And I feel like there’s just waaaaay too many whistles in Rugby. Of course, i’m not nearly as clear on the rules, nor the strategy, so i’m not the best person to listen to here 🙂

    Todd Boss

    23 Jun 14 at 10:27 am

  9. I dont see why we are comparing the sports like this. In American football, more happens in a single play than in 10 minutes of soccer.

    The only comparison that matters is the commercials, and yes American sports are experiencing an epidemic of commercials

    Jordan Rutledge

    2 Jul 14 at 6:06 pm

  10. Sorry, I absolutely disagree about your sentiment about soccer. If you watched the extra time periods between the US and Belgium, you’d never answer something this way. What “happens” in a first down run play where a RB drives into the middle of 15 other 300lb behomoths to gain one yard and then stand around for another 35 seconds until the next play occurs? What “happens” in a play where you wait an entire play-clock just for some stupid false start penalty?

    There are an amazing number of Americans who absolutely will not even consider watching soccer for some reason; the game is passionate, skillful, and exciting at times. Its their loss; I have converted more than a few of my formerly ignorant friends just by taking them to a game (we’re in DC and DC United has a great supporter section) or by watching high-level soccer games with them over a beer (marquee English Premier League games, Champions League and of course select World Cup games).

    The point of this article was simple; you get far more “bang for your viewing buck” by watching sports that continuously move. Hockey and Soccer being the two best examples. And this post was borne of my absolute frustration with the over-commercialization and just complete wasted time watching modern NFL games.

    Todd Boss

    3 Jul 14 at 8:34 am

  11. Thank you so much for putting this together. I am a 44-yr old former “soccer-hater” with a 9 yr old daughter currently playing club soccer. After watching her games for the last 4-5 yrs, I began to appreciate the sport a bit more. Then, I watched the World Cup for the first time this year, and I am HOOKED! It took the first game to figure out the clock and add-on time, as well as the “offside” rule (different than in U8 etc), but after my first game, I realized — no commercials! I thought, “no way this could be the same in MLS” but I was pleasantly surprised. I bought the MLS Live package (1/2 yr at $32 bucks) to continue my World Cup experience, cheering for the Crew. I still love American football, but I’m sick of the increased length of the game, and the # of commercials. When I was a kid, the 1 o’clock games almost NEVER lasted past 4. Now, they routinely do, so much so that we don’t even have 4 o’clock games, they’re 4:15 games. Now, I just DVR the Browns, and only begin watching about 20-30 minutes into the game, so I can fast-forward through the commercials. I’m hoping the MLS eventually plants a franchise in Cleveland, but that doesn’t look likely for quite a while. Anyway, thanks again.

    Jerry Cline

    22 Jul 14 at 10:36 am

  12. You bet Jerry. I’m in the same boat as you. I have grown utterly frustrated with the conventional NFL games and the number of commercials. At the same time that Soccer continues its renessaince in America.

    A running joke in my group of friends was this: “What time is the eight-oclock game on?” Which was a legitimate question because the late game used to be at 8, then it was pushed til 8:15, then again to 8:30 so that the networks could clear their 4:15 games AND have time to broadcast their highly lucrative highlights packages prior to the late sunday night game. Money money money.

    I’m glad you like pro soccer. The MLS product isn’t going to match the technical quality that you see in europe, but it isn’t as if you’re watching semi-pro hackers. Europeans who come to america routinely talk about the difficulties they have; the US game is strong, physical and requires significant endurance that you don’t have to have in certain european leagues. Its no surprise that the USMNT was the #1 ranked team in terms of distance covered at the 2014 World Cup; americans are the fittest atheletes out there and make up for shortcomings in quality with superior athleticism at the end of games. That’s why it looked like we could have gotten an equalizer against Belgium with a few more minutes and finally (after 115 minutes of looking overmatched) we finally looked like a dangerous attacking team.

    Todd Boss

    22 Jul 14 at 11:23 am

  13. Just because the ball is in play, does not mean there is “action.”

    Two or three players standing on a pitch passing he ball back and forth, while everyone else stands around “sucking air” or a player rolling around on the ground in fake agony is not what I would call “action.”

    In a 0-0 soccer game how many really exciting scoring chances are there? Two? Three? Five? The balance of the game is simply people running around kicking a ball between them.


    9 Aug 14 at 4:40 pm

  14. No offense Walt, but clearly you have a bias against professional soccer. And that’s too bad, because everything you said is the “cliche” of those who don’t understand the passion and excitement of the game. No there’s not a lot of scoring; that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of action.

    I’d rather watch a 0-0 soccer game, where the ball is actually moving and players are playing more than 2/3rds of the time than watch two poor NFL teams for nearly four hours and through hundreds of beer commercials for a scant 15 minutes of “action.”

    Every sport has what you could call “dull action.” NBA players slowly walking the ball up the court and then standing in a half court offense for 20 seconds isn’t exactly “action.” NHL dumps into the opposing ice so they can do line changes? Same. I love baseball and this is a baseball blog, but I won’t defend how slow the pace of play there is, when throws to first can get incredibly tedious. The problem with the NFL is that for every 3 seconds of a play you get ten TIMES that in waiting around. Its awful. I’ll never go to another NFL game in person. The only way I can watch the game now is via DirecTV’s redzone. It is what it is.

    Todd Boss

    10 Aug 14 at 9:13 pm

  15. Love this post, Todd. I grew up playing football and baseball and continue to watch the Reds and Bengals. However, I absolutely LOVE watching hockey. When you understand the strategy and realize why the players are passing the puck so much, this “down time” turns into suspense and excitement. Yes, it’s great to see the players peppering the net with shots, but setting up the play is just as great.

    When I watched the World Cup this year, I started making the comparison of Hockey to Soccer. It’s not merely standing around and kicking a ball back and forth. They’re moving the ball and looking for scoring opportunities. Plus, NOBODY can say that that US-Belgium game wasn’t exciting. I’m not much of a soccer fan, but I was literally jumping up and down on every one of those scoring chances. Plus, it was nice that there weren’t many commercials.

    I’d just like to add a point to your article though. Have you been to an NFL game recently? Talk about a drunk fest!! “Fans” are more concerned about heckling quarterbacks and cursing head coaches than actually enjoying the game. I encourage anyone who’s never been to a hockey game to find one and go to it. There’s nothing like the suspense and excitement of an NHL game. I was at the fourth playoff game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins when CBJ came from 3 goals down to win 4-3. That place was absolutely ROCKING!!! From what I hear, Columbus Crew games aren’t that bad to go to either. I’ll have to go sometime.


    4 Sep 14 at 4:57 pm

  16. Hey Jon. Thanks for the feedback. Last three NFL games I’ve attended live were here in Washington, in San Francisco and at Oakland.

    So, you can imagine what my day-game experience was like. In Washington the stadium is so remote and the in-stadium prices are so high that people get incredibly intoxicated before arriving, then sit in a monstrosity completely void of any character. It takes 2 hours to get there and longer to get out, turning the game into an all day and into the night affair. In Oakland there was a stabbing and a heroin overdose in the parking lot as we walked up, and most of the fans looked like they were either on parole or active members of MS-13. San Francisco featured several out-and-out brawls on the ramps heading into the game, not to mention what can only be described as “aggressive” behavior in the stands from the home fans.

    Only in football can you routinely expect to hear fans screaming curse words from the stands. Would you take your pre-teen child there? no way.

    Personally, I think Hockey is easily the best in-game user experience. Fast paced action, constant scoring chances and breakaways, not a ton of downtime, somewhat limited/controlled time exposure. Unfortunately, Soccer fans have an up-hill battle in america, where a sizeable percentage of sports fans won’t even consider watching the sport because they equate “scoring” with “action.”

    Todd Boss

    5 Sep 14 at 9:06 am

  17. So silly. This is on par with pigs are pink, flamingos are pink; flamingos fly, therefore pigs can fly. Just one item — take that goalie. For the huge majority of the game time, he is just standing there. In Football (American) you can’t just count the action time; there is all the strategy in the huddle, the changes at the line, the reorganizations, the alternative plays —- lots going on all the time, not just in the 4 seconds of play. If you look at soccer the same way, the goalie time is like 4 seconds. Hardly reflective of the game or action. 🙂


    8 Nov 14 at 2:24 pm

  18. So Norm, I guess you want to count the time that a bunch of guys are standing around in the huddle as “action?” Sorry, disagree. There’s such “strategy” time in other sports too; in Baseball while the pitcher is awaiting to wind up and the fielders are moving around, in Basketball while the ball awaits to in bound.

    And, no matter how you classify “action time” in the NFL, there’s still WAAAAAAY too many commercials, Way too much down time.

    Todd Boss

    9 Nov 14 at 3:00 pm

  19. It has to be wrong for Basketball since the clock is stopped during free throws, yet I would still count that as action, therefore, the action in an NBA game is longer than 48 minutes.

    Jak MacAvoy

    30 Nov 14 at 7:49 pm

  20. Good point Jak. I wish I could find better NBA information. I’m not sure i’d call “all” of free throw downtime “action,” but certainly the shot itself should count.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 14 at 10:47 am

  21. I love this dude


    23 Feb 15 at 8:50 pm

  22. Honestly I love sports, and you sir are very biased towards soccer and hockey. Basketball stops the clock a lot when there is no action, actually almost the whole game is action except commercials obviously. Football during the huddle they are strategically coming up what to do next play obviously not action, but neither is it always 35 seconds, that is a huge lie. But I will say football does have the least amount of action but also the most strategic sport. Soccer and hockey is a ton of passing ball/puck around until opportunities arise, if you want to call the action go ahead but its not much. I will say soccer is probably the most cardiovascular sport right ahead of basketball. Football the toughest but the shortest, with hockey on its ass because the fights and checking. Honestly its what you like, its all opinion but when doing something like this dont be biased. I forgot to mention baseball which I think only one player is emphasized during a play, that’s a lot of standing around for everyone else, kind of like the goalies for hockey and soccer. So when you add up that standing around that’s not very much action for those players. Football has offense and defense so they also get huge breaks. Hockey rotates players when they get tired also so does every sport. So its hard to say which one is more action between basketball and soccer.


    17 Apr 15 at 12:52 pm

  23. I am biased towards hockey and soccer in terms of this topic, absolutely. The other sports out there come nowhere close in terms of action for your dollar. And i’m saying that as a baseball fan, under the purview of this being a baseball blog.

    “Huge lie?” about NFL teams not always using 35 seconds? Ok sure … but i’ll bet you that across every play of every game the *average* time between plays is closer to 30 seconds than it is to 20…. so my point still stands. My directv DVR has a 30-second skip and darn near every time i use it between plays, guess what? I get right to the beginning of the next play. That’s awfully close to 35 seconds, every time.

    But whatever; the stats for NFL and MLB games are pretty clear and pretty well reported.

    Todd Boss

    18 Apr 15 at 11:56 am

  24. Even with the time differences of whatever is considered action, even though most of these sound about right except maybe basketball. I feel like the excitement from soccer isn’t as great as basketballs or footballs. To me at least the most exciting part of a game is for it to be high scoring and soccer, hockey, and baseball usually aren’t. Not to say that there aren’t high scoring games in these sports and that they can’t be exciting because I did watch the USA in the world cup and the nationals came back and beat the Yankees today which was very exciting. But nothing I’ve seen can compare to Paul Pierce in the playoffs this year, being from DC you should know what I mean.


    11 Jun 15 at 1:02 am

  25. For me, each sport is different. I cannot stand the narrative that because soccer is “low scoring” that its boring. I dare someone to have watched the last 20 minutes of the USA-Belgium game in the last world cup and tell me that it was “boring.” That being said; there are examples of both “good” and “bad” action in any sport. I’ve certainly seen 0-0 soccer sludges where the ball rarely left mid-field, and i’ve absolutely watched basketball games (even at the pro level) that featured two teams walking the ball up the court each possession and setting up isolation plays where one guy backs down another for 10 seconds, then flails up a shot which gets called for a foul.

    There are “fun” basketball teams to watch (generally a run and gun team like Golden State this year is captivating) just like there’s better soccer teams to watch than others (say, a Barcelona versus a middle-of-the-pack English team).

    This article was supposed to be less about the sports itself as about the action. And i’ll admit it is almost entirely a reaction to what the Football viewing experience has become.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jun 15 at 8:12 am

  26. Just a question for all those who keep saying football is better because the scores are higher.

    How many touchdowns, conversions, and field goals are made?
    I understand a lot of it is based on value of each type of action but if you lowered the value for each of those actions correspondingly so that they still mean the same vs the other so that touch downs are 3 conversions are 1 and field goals are 0.5 there won’t be such a “huge” point disparity.

    I am not saying that this should be done but one should recognize saying a 2:0 game isn’t as exciting as a 48:24 game or similar is in part due to an inflation of points. Not an actual difference in the action going on during play.

    Also the game of American football favors the attacking team as it is harder to defend in the sport than in soccer because you are using your hands. (Face it feet are just harder to use. Not better but definitely harder.)


    23 Jun 15 at 4:07 pm

  27. I wonder if this would differ at all when adding in college football and college basketball. I am a HUGE soccer fan (I like outside the US so we get to call it it’s true name, football 🙂 ) but am a US citizen and still love college football and March Madness, and wonder if the numbers differ any when compared to their professional counterparts. Have you considered adding in college basketball and football, as those draw millions of viewers (I would isolate March Madness for college bball since that gets the bulk of the viewers)?

    Adam C

    17 Jul 15 at 11:24 am

  28. Adding College sports: I’d be all for it if the data exists. I did not go looking for it necessarily, but I’d suspect the numbers are not nearly as bad as NBA/NFL.

    Todd Boss

    17 Jul 15 at 4:53 pm

  29. Although I disagree with this post and love hockey, I respect that people have their own passions. I would probably watch soccer if there were more scoring chances and their was a “sudden-death” aspect to extra time and bonus time or whatever you call it. But that is just my opinion. I also wish that the sport would get rid of ties altogether like the NHL did in 2005. I can’t stand when I spend two hours of my life seeing a game end in a scoreless tie.

    Tyler H.

    30 Jul 15 at 6:00 pm

  30. I’ve absolutely watched 0-0 games that were more exciting and passionate than many NFL games that awarded a team a winner. Ask a european soccer fan what they think and they’ll tell you straight away; the sport has a huge home field advantage, teams get a ranking point for a draw, so visiting teams getting a draw away “feels like” a win a lot of the time.

    Why are you obsessed with making sure there’s a winner at the end of the contest?

    Todd Boss

    31 Jul 15 at 12:54 pm

  31. I’m a bigger football fan, but also a soccer fan. Very interesting data and discussion. What about tennis? 🙂


    23 Sep 15 at 6:33 pm

  32. Tennis. Interesting. Tennis would be an interesting one. Problem is, the timing of matches is so vastly different; i mean, a 2-set womens blowout could be 30 minutes while a 5-set w/o a tiebreaker in the 5th could last days. I could look at conventional per-set figures maybe? Great idea.

    Todd Boss

    25 Sep 15 at 11:15 am

  33. Excellent article and blog. Thank you. I’ve been so fed up with commercials during NFL games, I’ve pretty much stopped watching NFL all together. I do like the Geico “final countdown” commercial.

    And such, I’ve been asking myself the same questions you answered. Thanks. I was going to get a stop watch and do some research myself so you saved me alot of time and head ache.

    I think I’ll start watching some soccer and see if I like the game more. I’m in Houston with pro football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, and 5 div. I colleges in area. I don’t go to any games. But soccer may be a new interesting sport to follow because of your article.

    I am so sick of commercialization of sports. I can’t do anything about it, but stop watching the NFL (and all football) altogether.

    Very good article. Thanks again.


    8 Nov 15 at 3:36 pm

  34. Hey Texas Fan! My business partner is in Galveston and we’ve considered moving to the Houston area … until of course O&G market bottomed out.

    Years ago when I first wrote this article it was very anti-football .. i’ve softened it in recent years and added more details when I got them. Glad you found it useful!

    If you really want to get into soccer, here’s my suggestion: find a marquee English Premier League matchup between top teams and try that (11/21: Manchester City-Liverpool, 12/19 Arsenal-Manchester City is even better; these are the two teams tied for first in the league right now). Or try the “El Classico” Barcelona Real Madrid league match scheduled for 11/21 and then agan on 4/3/16. And look for the Champions League matches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; is the best place to find them. If you watch the best of the best, you’re more likely to get a good match as your first one and you may find that you’re as enthralled with high level soccer as the rest of us crazy soccer fans are. DVRs make it so easy to watch now, and between ESPN and NBCsports every major european match is on US tv.

    Todd Boss

    8 Nov 15 at 6:27 pm

  35. Thanks again Todd. I appreciate it. And I’ll see if I can catch the 11/21 matches and ESPNFC and NBC. I was just going to channel surf so your advice is good advice.


    13 Nov 15 at 12:52 pm

  36. Hey Todd, great article. I tried to find some more exact sources to base the estimates off of, but surprisingly there isn’t a ton out there. If you want to see that data visualized, check out: – would love to collaborate and embed the visual in this article if you’re interested!


    17 Nov 15 at 11:45 pm

  37. Love Tableau. good stuff. I could grab a screen shot and embed if you want, or do a link to your blog.

    Todd Boss

    18 Nov 15 at 9:55 am

  38. Feel free to embed the viz using share feature as it’s on Tableau Public. Screenshot works too but takes away from interactivity. Whatever you prefer, links to my blog aren’t necessary as it’s all your research anyways. Have a good one.


    18 Nov 15 at 5:40 pm

  39. Hello Todd
    As a fan of both soccer and football I somewhat find your article to be bias for you don’t even mention how the live action isn’t the main objective to the game the game is based strategy the amazing needle eye throws that most pitchers in baseball couldn’t throw the one handed catches the jarring hits that sends chills up your spine the clutch final second touchdown that wind the game that’s what the sport is really about and I’d why people love it which you fail to mention
    In soccer although I enjoy it there is very few exciting moments in the sport when the action is going on mostly just passing and dribbling
    Though this is fun for me while I play the game racing down the field while I try to score it’s really boring from someone’s perspective watching the game it almost feels like there’s only 5 minutes of exciting action when a forward scores a goal or the goalie has a miraculous save but everything outside of that is really boring
    However in football you hear analysts what’s going on in the game u get a better look in depth at the game, football also shows you records of what the players done while breaking a legends record making the game more interesting. Highlights during the game where u feel that earlier play that fascinated you in soccer you’ll very rarely see that until half or the post game where it’s not too bad but you’ll rarely feel that fascination again. The thing that really puts soccer behind football which is very slim but just beats it is that usually the way for wining games or saving the game is practically the same yes there may be different move to get to the goal great passes that get your mid fielder open but after watching for a while u feel like it’s Deja vu. Where in football there’s many different ways for men to score TDs it could be a trick play that even confuses you a strong tough run where your running back runs over 8 men a pass so beautiful you see artwork
    an amazing catch that you couldn’t do in a million years
    You really can’t find that anywhere else in world of sports
    So football may have only 11 mins of action but to me a thousand minutes has been packed into that 11 minutes
    And while soccer may be fun to play it’s hard to watch for its only 5 mins of action into a big bag of 65 minutes


    21 Dec 15 at 7:07 pm

  40. I agree with Brandon I play neither sports and I do prefer baseball but football can be occasionally fun to watch with friends however with soccer there are few moments where you indeed feel that rush of excitement
    While the commercial do irritate me
    It’s not too bad for the game and friends help me ignore it but with soccer it feels like I’m actually watching commercials until finally someone scores I disagree with you that the 0-0 games are exciting at first when someone has a chance to score its cool but after the next 3 or 4 times it just gets boring and repetitive

    Jack N.

    21 Dec 15 at 8:25 pm

  41. Todd personally I hate football and soccer with a passion
    Football there is little to none action with a bunch of fools hitting each other
    In soccer theres even fewer moments where you feel excited and they always whine for free kicks and injuries that never happened
    In hockey and Baseball you never see that in those pathetic sports. You’ll see real men playing a game of the gods
    Football and soccer you’ll find little youth’s complaining every second and whining that someone pushed them a bit

    Jimmy Blackmon

    22 Dec 15 at 1:55 am

  42. Todd I grew up in Germany where Tennis and Soccer were the only sports i could play I absolutely loved soccer I loved shooting goals as a striker trying to save goals when I was the defender or goalie making headers with my friends. But for some reason watching the game was too boring for me growing up I couldn’t understand it but to me.Everything was just back and forth with the ball players passing the ball back to their goalie when they could’ve tried to score it’s really boring. But since I’ve moved to America my friends here have always invited me to football games where there very confusing but at times i get amazed with the plays that happen I’m starting to learn more about this football and I’m getting very interested in it. That was why I was extremely shocked that there was only eleven minutes of action in the game although that is annoying I actual dont mind it. For I’m able to make new friends watching this game and listen to some very cool talk with the reporters in the game. This game of football has been incredible for me as I’m learning more and more I just can’t believe why so many people outside the U.S hate it. Also Rugby is a new sport I’m getting into i find it very similar to football and I was wondering what good channels there are for it do you know

    Andy Wurtzbach

    22 Dec 15 at 2:04 am

  43. Todd I personally hate soccer and football with a passion
    All you see is a bunch of slobs hitting each other in football
    Soccer you find so many babies whining for a foul and about fake injuries
    Baseball and hockey is a real sport with men
    Football and Soccer are just a bunch of youth’s whining every second of the game it really annoying to watch either sport

    Jimmy Blackmon

    22 Dec 15 at 2:07 am

  44. Brandon and Jack: really the point of the article wasn’t to pass judgement on the virtues of each sport. That will always lie in the eye of the beholder. Some people love Nascar, other people think its just a bunch of rednecks driving in circles for 4 hours watching on the off-chance there’s a wreck. Is that a fair judgement on the sport as a whole? Of course not.

    This is a baseball blog, and baseball is my passion, yet baseball is nearly as “bad” in terms of action per minute as football. So i’m not exactly passing judgement on the watchability of my favorite sport. I freely admit it; I can’t stand watching baseball on TV. But I struggle even more with watching a football game on TV, or in person at a stadium. Just an awful viewing experience. That was really the point of the article. That the ball is constantly moving in Soccer and the time limit of the match is known. Hockey is probably the best viewing experience of any of them, especially given the HD advances in broadcasting.

    Todd Boss

    22 Dec 15 at 9:32 am

  45. With basketball, a game will average about 45-50 free throws per game (total, not for each team) which eats up about 25 minutes of time. Although the clock isn’t moving, I think it’s still action, so for me a basketball game has well over an hour of actual playing time, despite the game time being 48 minutes.


    7 Jan 16 at 9:59 pm

  46. That’s a tough call; a foul is called, players mill around, line up at the paint, … when does the “action” start? Is it when the player begins his 10-15 second dribbling/brow wiping/grimacing free throw technique or when he actually begins the shot? I’ll admit some of this is “action” but not all of it. And if you claim this is action then you certainly cannot complain about (say) soccer’s back field dribbling or ice hockey’s icing or pickoff plays in baseball.

    If someone has research i’m all ears; i don’t think i’ve ever seen someone try to time NBA or NCAA games.

    Todd Boss

    8 Jan 16 at 8:34 am

  47. I personally have no problem with soccer’s back field dribbling or stuff like that. I basically count anytime where I can see the players on the court/field/pitch doing something (even if it is relatively boring) and not commercials as action. Some might disagree but that’s my opinion anyway! Also I watch soccer a lot, and while there are some games that there is a lot of boring passing around the back, these are boring games and does not happen all the time. Whereas my main problem with football/baseball is even with the high tempo, fast action games I’m guaranteed to see over an hour of commercials. And actually with football the higher the score the more breaks there are!


    9 Jan 16 at 4:23 pm

  48. Harry; agree. This post for me started years ago when I got tired of all the commercials in the NFL. And its only gotten worse from there. Contrast to soccer; you get ZERO commercials for 45 straight minutes. That’s the real appeal to me. Different sports and certainly different opinions on the matter; there’s absolutely people who are anti-soccer in this country and refuse to even consider it for some reason at the behest of almighty football. But man. … the NFL is a tough watch sometimes. 3.5 hours and 100s of commercials.

    Todd Boss

    10 Jan 16 at 7:18 am

  49. hey


    20 Jan 16 at 12:52 pm

  50. […] interruptions happen in a game that already features breaks with the clock running (huddling). Football players actually stand around more (roughly 46 minutes) than they actually play (roughly 14… Is huddling really necessary at the professional level? Why not reduce the play clock, call the […]

  51. Played soccer and Rugby in my youth, stuck with Rugby because of my size, soccer more challenging and skillful, Rugby more brutal. When I played (5 different countries) I was ok size wise for my position, 6’1″ and 235lbs, fit, now 30 years later I am a midget and would never make the grade at near top level. Its faster, stronger and tailored for athletes, will unfortunately never make it in the US, too many broken noses, arms and legs, parents wont accept it. I know I have coached here for a few years. The camaraderie is unmatched in the US and globally. Incidentally soccer is extremely tough and my most painful injuries were from it. Great post, keep it up.


    7 Feb 16 at 3:49 pm

  52. Ice hockey and soccer dwarf the other sports in terms of action and are even better live than on television. American football and March madness are fun too. NHL (October – June), any major soccer league, NFL and NCAA basketball tournament are on my year round calendar.

    Tim F.

    20 Mar 16 at 8:00 am

  53. I notice you stuck with team sports. I’ve seen t-shirts that say things like “no bench, no timeouts, no substitutions. Welcome to my world”. So – all action, all the time? I believe they (like myself at one time) ran cross-country but there are other individual sports that it might apply to.

    Being older, these days I watch rather than participate, The interesting thing about watching NCAA Lacrosse is that there are pretty much no stoppages, and few if any commercial. Which also means that it only shows up on pay channels like the local sports channel and interest streaming services.


    28 Apr 16 at 6:19 pm

  54. dead action means no action. You talk about NFL having huddles meanwhile a defender is just standing there with the ball at his feet doing nothing for 10 second. There is about 12-15 minutes of actual action in a soccer game


    15 Jun 16 at 1:37 pm

  55. Obviously your definition of “dead action” is arguable. But to have stats that show that the ball is “in play” 60-66 minutes of a soccer game and then to claim that only 12-15 minutes of that is “actual action” is totally inaccurate. Find me a gif or a video of any soccer player playing in any professional league in the world who is “standing there with the ball at his feet doing nothing for 10 seconds.” You wont’ find it, unless its clearly the end of a non-competitive game. You may find passes between defenders and think its “dead action” … but certainly that’s action as compared to endless 30-35 second NFL huddle delays and constant 3-4 minute TV replays.

    Try it yourself; watch an entire copa America game this coming weekend and time it out. That’s how I started this whole post concept; i sat through an entire football quarter timing the action, counting the commercials, etc. It was excruciating. Sorry; that’s my opinion but its also well supported by the overall degenerating fan experience. It shouldn’t take your entire sunday to attend an NFL game like it does in certain cities thanks to the length of the game, the time it takes to get there and the time it takes to get out of the stadium afterwards.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jun 16 at 2:32 pm

  56. Todd, I came across this post and wanted to thank you for putting it together. This is a topic that I’ve become very interested in during the past several years, as my interest in football has significantly decreased, and my interest in watching baseball or basketball is now non-existent. At the same time, I have become a HUGE fan of both hockey and soccer, and can’t get enough of either sport. I too had seen the WSJ article on the amount of action time in baseball, but until your post, had never seen a side-by-side comparison of all the sports. I had no doubt that my interest in soccer and hockey had to do with the amount of action in those sports, but your statistics confirmed this, as these two sports had the highest proportion of action to total game time. And the more you watch these two sports, the more you realize how much skill and strategy is involved, and a 0-0 draw can still be very entertaining. If high scoring always translated into entertainment value, Arena Football would be the most popular sport in this country. The fact that it isn’t, lends credence to the notion that scoring isn’t everything.

    A couple of other things I’d also like to point out. First, the 18 minutes of action attributed to baseball is generous (even admittedly so by the author of the WSJ article). That figure includes time for home run trots and the batter trotting/walking to first after a walk or hit-by-pitch. If only time where the ball is actually in play in the field is counted, the amount of action in an average 9-inning MLB game is less than 6 minutes. Think about that! Spending three hours of your day to watch 6 minutes of actual action.

    Second, in my view, one other factor that contributes to the enjoyment or frustration of watching a sporting event is the influence of bad officiating. In this area, basketball and football are failing tremendously. In contrast, I am often amazed how good of a job soccer and hockey officials do. I’m not saying that there aren’t bad calls in these sports, but it just seems like they occur less often and that bad officiating doesn’t factor into the end results like it seems to in other sports.

    Finally, I would just like to add that I have no doubt that in 25 years,, soccer will be more popular in the U.S. than baseball (and I realize this is a baseball website and my comment will probably not be popular). Macho meatheads can criticize soccer all they want, but facts are facts, and there is no doubt that the sport is become increasingly popular in this country. Look at the recent popularity of the Premier League in this country and how many cities are clamoring for an MLS franchise. Look at the crowd in an MLS game and it seems like 80% of attendees are under the age of 40. In contrast, look at the diminishing numbers of Little League participants. Look at a typical crowd at a MLB game and the lack of Millennials in attendance. And again, baseball is 6 minutes of action over a three-hour span. Sorry soccer-haters, the sport is only going to continue to grow in popularity.

    Now if I could just see the sport of hockey making similar strides in popularity, I’d be a very happy man.


    24 Jul 16 at 5:18 pm

  57. Thanks for the comments Don. As you can read from the other comments on this blog …. there’s a huge anti-soccer sentiment out there. Your experience matches my own w/r/t Football; i think my last straw was an all-day ordeal to watch a Redskins game at Fedex field. $50 to park, hours to get in or out of the parking lot, plus nearly 4 hours for the game and constant downtime thanks to TV breaks.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jul 16 at 10:34 am

  58. Todd, thank you very much.
    Your numbers confirm my preferences. Hockey has always been #1. Sometimes I watch entire game. Especially in playoffs.
    % of action between soccer and hockey is not comparable. If it’s 2:0 with 5-10 minutes left, which game is over? Hockey or soccer? Kicking a ball or a puck out is not the same. First of all, icing. Secondly, it’s much faster to return a puck than a ball back and create an opportunity for scoring. Also, you can’t kick a puck to your goalie. Goalies may face over 30 shots. How many shots in soccer? Hockey is definitely #1 in terms of real quality time.
    I’m in favor of breaks. I want to take a break myself. Just not too many. Regarding football, can’t you tape a game and skip commercials when watching? Is it fair to compare football to chess on the field? Chess may seem boring with little action. Once you understand, you can enjoy it.


    6 Sep 16 at 3:34 pm

  59. GM: Not really a discussion about the nature of the games themselves; this was just about pure “ball in play.” I think its fair to say that nearly every sport has aspects that leave the user experience as “less than desired.” Soccer players can kill the clock, NBA players can do hack a shack and call endless time outs, MLB and NFL just offer so little bang for the viewing dollar.

    Baseball and Football when highly edited are pretty good watches; imagine 15 minutes of straight action. I think in the nfl they’re called GM cuts. Chess; never thought about it as a spectator sport because there’s practically no action … but then again, the thought process required in chess is infinitely more complicated than in a sport like baseball, where most pitchers have a very small set of choices for each pitch.

    Todd Boss

    6 Sep 16 at 4:20 pm

  60. My sport viewing is almost exclusively ONLY soccer – European leagues, MLS, international friendlies, and major tournaments.

    I 100% agree with the sentiment of soccer is PERFECT for TV and the 2 hour time slot.

    That being said, while I am VERY quick to bash throwball, I mean the NFL and college football, for that whole lack of action and commercial breaks, I will concede soccer is really 90 minutes of commercial.

    You have an electronic ad board all along the sideline across from the camera PLUS you have the sponsorship of all clubs. Does that take away from the viewing experience, no?

    Does it work? Well…I will not buy a Chevy until after their sponsorship with Manchester United ends, so maybe not what Chevy intended but then again, not only do I know Man United’s kit sponsor, I can probably name the majority of the top Euro clubs and the majority of the MLS kit sponsors.

    It might not be commercials in the tradition sense but it is 90 minutes of ads.


    26 Oct 16 at 5:08 pm

  61. Hey Nick, thanks for chiming in! While there are persistent billboards viewable within the screen on soccer … at least there’s still action! 🙂

    I’ve often wondered just how long it’ll take before NFL, NBA, MLB follow suit and do shirt sponsors. Man Utd gets 53 million pounds a year for that shirt deal. 53 Million!!

    Todd Boss

    26 Oct 16 at 9:13 pm

  62. It’s all kind ot weird.The people who are providing this modern day city-state war re-enactment entertainment are paid so much more money than average
    pay. Like the teams owners and the advertizers have tapped into a repressed violent underlying nature of human beings who are seemingly compelled to suffer through so much just to see a few minutes of actual playing of some sport as some surrogate for war.
    It’s unbelieveable that people sit unnecessarily due to tv commercials for hours in cold stadiums, 90 % with seats you can’t really follow or see the game from, or
    sitting and watching on tv 15 minutes of play for 3 hours of worthless crap and ads being rammed up ones
    brain hole. Sorry,i can’t be a sheep like that.


    27 Oct 16 at 12:29 pm

  63. Tzevo: that’s the most unique response to this post i’ve ever had and its been live for years.

    Todd Boss

    28 Oct 16 at 4:30 pm

  64. I agree life tine NFL fan but lately just bored with it, too many penalties, commercials, bad tackling, annoying announcers. Soccer if it got rid of that offside rule where every time it looks like a fast break as in basketball someone is called off sides it would be more fun to watch.


    31 Oct 16 at 3:13 pm

  65. Touchdown = 1 point
    Field goal = 1/2 point
    Not much scoring in football either, except for commercial sponsors !!
    Dunk = 1 point
    Free throw = 2 points
    Three point line = 3 points
    Four point line = 4 points
    Equals less intentional fouls by players.
    24″ wide flat soccer goal posts/crossbar = lots more scoring
    12″ wide flat hockey goal posts/crossbar = lots more scoring
    Or you can score 7 points for each goal in soccer and hockey to level scoring comparison with football.
    Split screen a soccer game and a football game at the same time and see which one you find yourself watching more !?
    Would like to see more Australian Rules Football broadcast – real tough men like hockey players without pads or helmets


    1 Nov 16 at 1:07 am

  66. I do agree that Soccer could be “improved” with some modified off-sides rules. Instead of a moving line and the consistently poor judgement of a line judge, you either have a chalk line that serves as the barrier or you introduce the capability of instant replay to confirm/overrule line judge calls. Because it seems like EVERY SINGLE SOCCER GAME has a bad off-sides call that negates a score.

    Todd Boss

    1 Nov 16 at 11:35 am

  67. Ditch offsides rules altogether and watch scoring soar in soccer.
    Might force teams to play man to man, rather than all the various zone formations now employed.
    No offsides in basketball seems to give their fans a thrill when they see a dunk by a really tall player on a fast break.
    Breakaways in soccer are exciting for fans too, but rare because of the current offsides rules.


    1 Nov 16 at 10:37 pm

  68. It’s hockey #1 for me. While the action time may be similar to soccer (which I also like), for intensity of the action, hockey wins for sure. Think about it. It is the only one of the sports mentioned that has player substitutions without a stoppage in play. In for 60-90 seconds and giving it everything they have. Exhausted and time to come out and in comes the next line. Repeat. OT hockey is the best also. Scoring chance at one end can feel like a win is coming only to lose it on the other end in 5 seconds.


    3 Nov 16 at 8:28 pm

  69. Comparing sports like this is a bit arbitrary. The amount of “action” in any given game does not directly reflect the excitement or watchability of a game. I like American football, baseball, basketball, and FIFA. I also realize that each game is completely different. I’ve seen many exciting games from each sport. I’ve also seen plenty of terribly boring games from each. But you can’t say that the NFL is inherently bad because the ball in play time is less than soccer. I’ve seen quite a few soccer games where there are only a few shots on the goal during regulation. I’d rather watch a mid scoring NFL game. The reverse is also true. I’d rather skip a football game where neither team can move past the 50 yard line and instead watch a soccer game where both teams threaten scoring every few possessions.

    Now I do agree that the amount of commercial breaks in football is incessant, but the entire reason anything is broadcast on TV is for the sake of selling ads. Programming is there to entertain you enough to sit through commercials. The NFL is very popular in the US, hence more ads. Soccer players just wear the ads on their jerseys.

    Either way, you can’t unilaterally equate “action” time with how “good” a sport is. If that were the case, NASCAR would be #1. People like different sports for various reasons. If the amount of action time is what excites you most about sports, you have a compelling case for why you prefer soccer.


    18 Dec 16 at 2:37 pm

  70. Wasn’t comparing sports; this entire post was about the amount of live action and the number of commercials. In that respect you can absolutely compare across sports, and I did, offering quantitative summaries of # of minutes and # of ads.

    Todd Boss

    18 Dec 16 at 4:07 pm

  71. A typical Australian Football quarter might run from 27 to 33 minutes, but may be even longer if, for instance, injuries cause delays. Australian Footbal breaks after the first and third quarters are six minutes, with a 20-minute break at halftime. Thus, a match with quarters averaging 30 minutes would last about two and a half hours.

    J Law Dog Whore

    27 Dec 16 at 7:01 pm

  72. soccer is more than 50% action


    15 Jan 17 at 7:15 pm

  73. the post specifically mentions a FIFA study of the 2014 world cup that said 57.6 minutes out of 90. So yes, I agree, Soccer is more than 50% action.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 17 at 8:31 pm

  74. […] the length of games.  If you’re too cheap to subscribe, like me, the summary can be found here.  The research found that MLB games were just under 3 hours and had about 18 minutes of actual […]

  75. Chess games last hours but the players only spend second actually moving the pieces. Just because you are incapable of understanding football dynamics, doesn’t mean soccer is superior. Any idiot can kick a ball around.

    Antonio Roji

    28 Mar 17 at 10:27 pm

  76. Antonio: the article was about live action time, not a judgement on the sport. I love baseball and freely acknowledge that it has too much deadtime. But you clearly made your opinions evident, without understanding the point of the article, which shows more about your own ignorance than mine. If you can’t see the tactics and strategy of soccer and think its just about “idiots kicking a ball around” then there’s not point discussing this with you. Every sport has tactics and strategy, and every sport takes specialized skills.

    Todd Boss

    29 Mar 17 at 10:03 am

  77. […] not the most boring sport, as haterz are fond of claiming; there’s more ball-in-play action in baseball than there is in football (though obviously far less than in soccer or basketball). But it is […]

  78. The ‘action’ time is well researched and are facts. But the ‘interest’ and the excitement in an NFL game is unmatched and obviously that is reflected by the passion and popularity in the US for NFL. Soccer has its fans worldwide and in larger numbers, but it is undeniably the least popular in US, whether it is the MLS or international variety.
    NFL rules sundays and is easily the most well packaged entertainment for the buck in spite of the commercials. Actually the commercials flock to this sport because of its entertainment value. Corporates and fans alike, are not idiots.
    And your response to everyone who disagrees with your ‘findings’ shows absolute intolerance towards NFL and bias towards soccer.


    20 Aug 17 at 12:19 am

  79. And, dont bother responding to my post with the same ‘you dont know soccer’ kind of nonsense. I know enough about either sport and have no patience to read your responses here. My post is just meant to add a rejoinder to those few others who had similarly spare time to post countering the ‘intelligent analysis’.


    20 Aug 17 at 12:22 am

  80. There are a lot of NFL butthurt fanboys in here.


    22 Sep 17 at 11:29 am

  81. Yes, its difficult to criticize the NFL with some people. I just got a link forward to me on facebook that was like “the best 25 hits in NFL history” and the comment from the forwarder was “see this is how football used to be before everyone became a p*ssy about it.” Meanwhile the main sports headline yesterday was the finding that 27-yr old Aaron Hernandez had advanced CTE symptoms normally seen in 60-yr old head trauma cases, raising speculation that he was mentally incapacitated while doing all these awful things that landed him in prison and/or led him to end his life.

    In this case … if you’re “into” football you don’t really care about the lack of action. And I get it; its the same for baseball, a sport that was designed for a previous generation in terms of his pace of play and relative idleness. You want the experience; lots of people look forward more to the tailgating than the game itself. Or look forward to hanging in a bar with friends while watching the game. So its less about the game, more about the experience.

    Todd Boss

    22 Sep 17 at 1:46 pm

  82. “High scoring” is deceiving. In American football a 21-14 game could have been as few as 5 scores. (OK, 10 total scores if you want to include each extra point as an individual score, but the clock isn’t running & they are almost a given.) Or a 21-15 game should be termed exciting based on it having 12 total scores — yet they could’ve all been field goals.
    I hate all the commercials in football too, but I don’t have to sit idly thru them. I can use a game’s downtime & ads to get something to eat or drink, use the bathroom, check my texts & emails, catch up on world news, flip thru channels to see other games, chat with other people in the room, or make phone calls. And if I miss a score, at the sound of the crowd I can look up and there will be 4 replays. (But you’d have to drag me, kicking & screaming, into a football stadium for a 4-hour game on a Sunday! Unless you have great seats, the players look like ants — or maybe mice if you’ve got “good” seats — running around on a piece of outdoor carpeting. And don’t get me started on people seated in front of you wearing a giant hat or piece of cheese!) American football excitement is about offense so they have the scoring system to increase the perception of excitement: a defensive football game is boring.
    The excitement in low-scoring baseball, soccer, and hockey games IS about the defense. I’d rather sit thru a long inning to see it end with a close play at the plate and no points than a half dozen setup 3-pointers for 18 points in a half. (And I played college basketball!) You can weave everyday life through a football game. Maybe mow the front lawn at halftime. You have to limit your time away from the screen for baseball, soccer & hockey games, which I can do as well. But with Americans’ dwindling attention spans, these “slower” TV games just don’t cut it for many people.


    25 Sep 17 at 1:52 am

  83. Agree on scoring sentiment. Its amazing how many people who, if you asked them about a “pitcher’s duel” in baseball that ends 1-0 would say “oh yeah, great game” but then when you ask them about a 1-0 soccer game they bemoan how “boring” it is because there’s no scoring.

    Todd Boss

    25 Sep 17 at 9:53 am

  84. Had this debate with a friend the other day. Sports lend themselves to pausing differently. A Marathon vs the mile comes to mind. Drag racing vs oval racing… Without comparing the intensity of the action and strategy employed the findings in this article are just mute points. Football is strategic bursts and diverse action where soccer is steady movement with less strategy and less diversity in play. A football fan looks at soccer as too simple and just a bunch of ball passing. A soccer fan looks at football as a bunch of strategy meetings with occasional action.


    11 Dec 17 at 2:38 pm

  85. JR .. i’d counter that even with all the strategizing and “intensity” of action with football … a large percentage of the actual action still results in uselessness. Running plays right into a crowded line for no gain, incomplete passes, penalties, delays of game, nedless challenges and reviews of plays. At least the NFL seems to be recognizing that they’ve gone too far, now inlaying a live action shot of the game during pauses in the action while the commercial plays in another window.

    And the point of this article isn’t “mute” [sic] … its about live action, not a judgement on the action.

    Consider this: have you ever watched high-level squash? Intense back and forth rallies … too many of which end with a slight bump between players and a “let” play (meaning a do-over). Its maddening to me … but its the way the game is played. Does that make it any more or less “useful” of action? No; its just the nature of the game. But there’s lots of action nonetheless.

    Todd Boss

    12 Dec 17 at 11:14 am

  86. Get latest update of MLS Standings.


    18 Jan 18 at 3:03 am

  87. When considering the excitement level of soccer, it is important to remember the value of each goal. I would say roughly the equivalent of a grand slam in baseball. So every time a team mounts an attack with a powerful striker, it can be thought of watching an at bat with the bases loaded. They don’t happen often, but the potential is often there making it frequently exciting in a way that none fans don’t appreciate.


    21 Jan 18 at 1:31 pm

  88. […] is in play during an average NFL game — a whopping 11 minutes… Here is a summary by sport: How much live action occurs in each sport? Ball in Play studies summarized at Nationals Arm Race 73Mach1 is online now   Quote Quick […]

  89. Hello Redneck inbreeds i come in peace. What do you call an American Football fan… A NONCE. I went to watch a rugby game at the weekend. it is a much more physical sport than in the NFL. 1) you must be 6’5 to play rugby. you must eat a live baby in the initiation to join a rugby club. if this doesn’t prove how tough these players are then you must have your head up your arse. but in the NFL you wear pads and all have vaginas, PUSSY HOLES. if you disagree with any of my views then you fuck your mother, Although you probably already do. HEHE.

  90. Thank you for your numbers, Todd. I am writing a book with three other people for school ant this helps a lot!We are going to the book to third graders so this will intrigue them! Thanks


    6 Feb 18 at 7:09 am

  91. Sorry this is my name


    6 Feb 18 at 7:10 am

  92. Hopefully you know what i meant


    6 Feb 18 at 8:05 am

  93. I watch first time in my life Super Bowl. I don t understand how people can watch that, 5sec action 5min break, you are watching commercial with small break for few sec of sport action, and u have to watch that for more than 3hours!!! I found today highlight and this is far better to watch than 3h of advertisement. I m from europe, i love real football, volleyball and ski jumping.


    6 Feb 18 at 9:30 am

  94. Strategy in soccer is very important like in american football ask any soccer coach, player or somebody who knows about a game!!!!


    6 Feb 18 at 9:39 am

  95. American football is most popular for Americans only,
    Cricket in India
    Australian football in Australia
    and for rest of the world most popular sport is…. Football (soccer)


    6 Feb 18 at 9:47 am

  96. If you check popularity of sport in the world Soccer is always first, and NFL you can not find in top10 most popular sports


    6 Feb 18 at 10:26 am

  97. 48 minutes of NBA action does not include free throw attempts, probably about 10 minutes a game of those for 58

    Brack Varnon

    1 May 18 at 3:09 am

  98. If the goals is the only action time in soccer, than we need to assume knock downs are the only valuable moments of a boxing match, while everything that happens in between them is just “waiving hands”. The beauty of soccer is that, first of all, they try all the time, and that you can have a beautiful goal within 10 seconds of any moment in a match. As I sincerely hate the ads, I’m still able to not to see a second of them during a match. I just need to turn on the tv exactly at X hour, then 15 minutes after the first half. Hope it lasts. Europe will never understand why would anyone give more than half an hour to a football match, which would cover all ball in play, line-ups, strategy, etc.


    19 Jun 18 at 8:01 am

  99. By the way, For Rugby Union according to the governing body for Rugby Union in the Rugby World Cup 2015 Statistical Report page 20 found here:

    in the 2015 Rugby World Cup the ball was in play:

    In 2015 for 44% of game clock time at 34 minutes and 55 seconds out of 80;
    in 2011 for 44% at 35:25/80;
    in 2007 for 44% at 35:20/80;
    in 2003 for 43% at 34:52/80.

    So a remarkably stable 44% of ball in play time ignoring Halftime.

    Half-time is limited to 15 minutes. so 43% turns into about 36% whistle to whistle.

    A report on Rugby sevens at the 2016 Olympics says that in Sevens the ball is in play for 52 percent of the time at 7 minutes and 14 seconds out of 14 minutes of game clock time.

    I am surprised how much action there is watching the 2018 world cup as I was mostly familiar with watching kids soccer when I was also a kid and thought it was terrible.

    Great article BTW, it was exactly what I was looking for!


    19 Jun 18 at 9:45 pm

  100. fantastic! i’ll update this post with Rugby numbers. that’s awesome.

    Todd Boss

    20 Jun 18 at 8:24 pm

  101. You are missing two very important stats.

    1. % of Players Involved
    2. Quality of action

    ## % of Players Involved

    In baseball, most pitches involve a total of two players. Pitcher and catcher. For an average pitch, the batter does nothing, but we could change that to three because the batter has potential to do something. That is for both teams. I have never seen all 9 players involved at the same time or in the same play.

    In soccer and basketball, there can be quick passing and a lot of players involved in a few short seconds.

    In football, every play involves 22 players, and usually a minimum we have 8 or more players involved from both teams. 5 blockers, four rushers, Qb. Pass plays and run plays may be different. I don’t know how often 22 players are involved.

    In basketball, there is often isolation plays that take only two players, which can be quite boring. Whereas some plays the ball is passed to all 5 players before the a shot or a play at the rim.

    Number of players in involved in action is pretty significant to the quality of action.

    ## Quality of action

    Each sport has different quality of action. A lot of fans believe scoring is the highest quality of action.

    So in soccer, there might only be 0 to 5 scores. Scoring usually is abrupt, and about 2 or 5 seconds per scoring play, including pass or drive for the score. So a 1-0 game, might have a total of 2 to 5 seconds of the highest quality of action. Based on scoring, soccer is often considered to have only have 2 to 25 seconds of scoring action.

    In basketball, there is a lot more scoring. How many seconds of scoring is involved? Similar to soccer, basketball has 2 to 5 seconds of action per score, including assists and drives, etc. But there are over 40 scores per team. So we are looking at 160 to 400 seconds of scoring action.

    However, it should be noted that the more scoring there is, the more deluded the quality of the average scoring action is. In soccer, the scoring action is huge, but there is so little of it. Sometimes none. Is it too seldom? In basketball, each score is not as huge, so is it too often?

    Football usually has more scoring than soccer, but it does something interesting. It extends the scoring action with extra points. Also, football has five different ways to score with different values (TD 6, EP 1, TPC 2, FG 3, S 2), which really makes it unique. Scoring action is a lot longer than soccer due to extra points, and field goals, etc.

    ## Accurate numbers

    I think the lack of defining different qualities of action has also led to a lack of accurate numbers.

    If we exclude all low quality action, your numbers seem quite high for baseball. And no attempt was made to exclude low quality action from other sports. It also appears that football had the most low quality action chopped off of your numbers, which perhaps is due to the apparent ease of tracking the between play action, hike to tackle.

    Baseball averages only 146 pitches. A pitch takes less than 1 second. So 146 seconds. There are 46 fouls on average. Flight time of a home run is 2.8 seconds on average. Many fouls are shorter and go to the stands. Running base takes time. But it seems like a lot of very low quality action was counted. At what point does the ‘action’ start? Does the pitcher’s movement before count? If he steps off of first base, does that count? Does the catcher throwing the ball back to the pitcher count? To get to 18 minutes, you are including a lot of low quality action in there.

    However, if you add all low quality action back in, did you miss a bunch in baseball? Did you miss the first basemen looking to steel and the pitcher looking him off? Is all leading off action?

    Football, the action seems low. I wonder if you have taken into account the fact that there is quite a lot of pre-snap action. For example, there is a lot of shifting defenses positions to show/hide blitzing. The quarterback changes plays, recognizes defensive movements, and shifts his line, calls a player in motion, etc. Also, is lining up excluded always, because even getting lined up the last two minutes of half and game can be intense action. Also, is re-lining up after an audible included or excluded? Or just trying to line up fast to catch the defense sleeping, is that counted? Also, a defender sprinting off the field to substitute is action, but is it counted? Sure, it is not the most exciting action, it isn’t scoring action, but it is action. It is equivalent to basketball passing the ball in after a shot and walking the ball up the court, or in soccer, kicking the ball backwards to the goalie before he boots it it to the middle of the field. Lower quality action is still action, and I believe that you may have missed a lot of low quality action in football.

    Also, football creates more tension but having four downs. First downs are closer in quality to a scoring action. The quality of tension in a 3rd down play is much higher. None of the other sports listed have a consistent increase of quality action every few plays. However, Tennis, not listed, has game, set, match moments, so we do get a similar increase in the importance of the outcome of a play. How many 3rd down plays are there?

    So how many moments (seconds) that matter are there per sport?

    ## Other sports
    Also, I would be interested in Tennis and Golf. Golf, because we move from player-to-player so often and that there were so many players swinging. Tennis because the game, set, match style creates a lot of moments that matter.

    ## Replay quality
    Also, replay quality is important. Yes, this is action you want to see twice so should it count? Not sure, but replays are action. Which sport has more replays that are worth watching? Was it a foul in basketball, or was it fumble in football? Which don’t have replays? Soccer has very little replays, but football has quite a lot, and this replay action is quite valuable.

    Jared Barneck

    22 Jun 18 at 5:26 pm

  102. […] brevity’s sake, I’m going to give you a one-stop shop for the numbers below, because it does a good job of aggregating the data from places like […]

  103. Soccer is popular sports out of all sports in the world, you can check

    John Taylor

    21 Nov 18 at 3:21 pm

  104. Soccer is popular sports out of all sports in the world, you can check

    John Taylor

    21 Nov 18 at 3:21 pm

  105. Soccer is the best and Worldwide popular football games. All of the top footballers is attends the league. Do you know what is the highest paid soccer player? if you don’t know so can see here for details.

  106. […] How much live action occurs in each sport? Ball in Play studies summarized […]

  107. […] has a time loss of (only) 50%. However, most other sports have greater time losses than rugby. Check out this article for more on time loss in sports. A few sports are listed below with their respective time […]

  108. You did a great job in this post! So much effort. Thanks for sharing this! I wonder though how much live action actually occurs in volleyball ’cause I’ve been watching volleyball games on TV but never had the chance to watch it live.


    1 May 19 at 7:07 am

  109. Sorry, but I really don’t have time to respond to this thread during the baseball season. With 6 games a week plus a month of playoffs (to say nothing about the game within the game…individual stats) my sports life is consumed by baseball. Well, it’s off to the ballpark I go for tonight’s installment. I’ll be back home when the game is over…not when the clock runs out.

    Joe Spivis

    4 May 19 at 6:06 pm

  110. Very helpful. There’s a lot of information that can help me a lot. Thank you!


    6 Jun 19 at 11:15 pm

  111. Hey, one detail I’d like to add. In European Hockey and IIHF tournaments, they only have two commercial breaks per period compared to the NHL’s 3, so that percentage of action number would likely be a little higher.

    Anyways, would it possible to have this updated with numbers for rugby and cricket (especially T20, which is the form of cricket most comparable to other pro sports)? This is a really useful resource, and I’m glad you to took the time to compile it.


    8 Jul 19 at 6:03 pm

  112. This is what I was seeking for a long time. I want to say thanks for this interesting post. I love to play and watch Soccer. So I am very happy to read here something interesting about my favorite Soccer.


    7 May 20 at 8:36 am

  113. hi guys! thanks, todd, for your research.

    i am interested in the topic “soccer in united states”. so i did some research. and this recent one fits the topic, doesn’t it?

    Sadis, Benjamin; Markovits, Andrei S. (2020): The Influence of the Construction of Time on the Major North American Sports: Will Soccer Infiltrate the American Sports Space? In: International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure 3 (1), S. 1–13.

    and here are more references / academic publications:

    (1) Collet, Christian (2017): Soccer, politics and the American public. Still ‘exceptional’? In: Soccer & Society 18 (2-3), S. 348–367.

    (2) Collins, Sandra (2006): National Sports and Other Myths. The Failure of US Soccer. In: Soccer & Society 7 (2-3), S. 353–363.

    (3) Mandelbaum, Michael (2004): The meaning of sports. Why Americans watch baseball, football, and basketball, and what they see when they do.

    (4)Markovits, Andrei S. (2011): Sports Fans Across Borders. In: Harvard International Review 33 (2), S. 17–22.

    (5) Markovits, Andrei S.; Hellerman, Steven L. (2001): Offside. Soccer and American exceptionalism.

    (6) Riesman, David; Denney, Reuel (1951): Football in America: A Study in Culture Diffusion. In: American Quarterly 3 (4), S. 309.

    (7) Waddington, Ivan; Roderick, Martin (1996): American Exceptionalism. Soccer and American Football. In: The Sports Historian 16 (1), S. 42–63.

    (9) Warren, Clinton J.; Agyemang, Kwame J.A. (2019): Soccer in the United States. In: Simon Chadwick [u.a.] (Hrsg.): Routledge Handbook of Football Business and Management, S. 590–600.

    everone, who is interested in “soccer & usa”, should read “andrei s. markovits (2001) – offside”. as i am not so familiar with us sports, the book “mandelbaum (2004) – the meaning of sports” was helpful – although the author speaks only of baseball, american football and basketball!

    times are changing. so let me tell you this:
    – european “soccer” has now a video assistent referee (var) – similar to nfl. and var sucks: waiting up to 2 minutes till there is a decision.
    – in european soccer, espeacially in germany the outcome of national championship is clear: bayern munich now wins the 8th title in a row. and there are the same clubs that are able to win the european tournament “chamions league”. so when we don’t insult the var, we discuss american sport leagues, especially football: okay, the patriots won many titles. but it seems, as if the combination of knockout-playoffs and salary cap enables equality. we can’t believe it: no relegation, franchises move to an other city. franchises in capitalistic america tolerate limits. isn’t it ironic? these are interferences with market economy freedom… get me right: we admire this balance! due to corona crisis the claim for limits in german soccer becomes louder und more popular.

    there is a famous soccer quote: “I fell in love with football (british english for soccer) as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.” Nick Horby – Fever Pitch. Instead of football we can use the term “sport”. whatever we do and love, we share the passion for sports – don’t forget it.

    be peaceful, polite and open minded! best regards


    19 Jun 20 at 2:33 pm

  114. Thanks for all the suggestions.

    VAR slows the game down. Now european soccer fans feel some of the pain that American sports fans feel with these video reviews.

    Promotion/Relegation … i dunno. It just never was implemented in the same way that it was in european soccer. Many clamor for it in at least the MLS in america, but their value propositions for how it would “improve the game” are nebulous. It’d be amazing to consider a league where the worst top level teams are penalzied by dumping them out of the league and replacing them with the best performing ones from the minors … but not all our sports work that way. Its hard to undo 100+ years of a system.

    Todd Boss

    19 Jun 20 at 3:43 pm

  115. I like both footballs (American football and soccer) and basketball. I feel, the stats on minutes of action were done wrong. Ball in play is not the determiner of action. There is a lot of minor action that may or may not include the ball.

    In soccer, the ball is supposedly in play for the entire game. But that isn’t really so. A Soccer goalie holding the ball for a few seconds and rolling it to teh side isn’t the awesomest action; nor is passing it back and forth in the backfield, or kicking it from midfield back to the goalie. Getting ready for a corner kick is only mildly interesting, but the actual corner kick is exciting.

    However, in American Football, the team lines up, an offensive player can go in motion, the QB can change the formation with an audible, vary the snap count. The defense can shift, try to time the snap. The defense can try to rush in substitution and risk a penalty. Whatching the offense rush to the line, catching the defense tired happens when the ball is not in play, is exciting action, and not included.

    Soccer has a lot of minor action. Most of it is minor action. What we should do is break up the level of action into three levels:

    1. Minor action (with or without the ball)
    2. Interesting action (good moves, exciting but non-scoring, or possibly scoring in high-score games such as basketball)
    3. Highly Exciting action

    So if we compare sports Exciting action, basketball (which I like less than Soccer or American Football) has the most. But it has too much. It is watered down so that scoring only becomes important the last two minutes of the 4th quarter, though there are exciting runs, so but a lot of the scoring itself is boring.

    The thing about Soccer and American football is that scoring is less, but every score matters so much more than in basketball. Soccer has a little less scoring than football. But almost every score is 100 times more exciting than a basketball score.

    The problem is, what is exciting differs per person. Really understanding action happens by either playing the game or watching enough to understand the nuances, and the nuances are lasting most of the game, making much more of it action, whether it be baseball (which I hate cause I don’t know the nuances) or soccer or football or basketball or hockey.


    17 Jul 20 at 7:13 pm

  116. Parsing “minor” versus “major” action is a tough one. I mean, i get it, in soccer if two defensemen are passing the ball between themselves, that’s not really “major action” but … its certainly better than what you see in american football. In the NBA … often times it takes 8 seconds of un-challenged walking up of a basketball … should that count? I dunno. It would be really difficult to parse the “ball in action” stats that we do have down any further than we already have. It was tough enough to get what I’ve depicted in this article.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 20 at 7:20 pm

  117. […] many commercials! The average NFL game has 63 minutes of commercials and the average NBA game has 45 minutes. That doesn’t include all the time when the ball is dead or out of bounds, team timeouts, video […]

  118. […] 48 minutes of actual game time where the ball is in play compared to “90 minutes of “down time” of some sort in a typical NBA […]

  119. Thank you for doing this research, this is great. The only thing I want to add is the sport of Pool has a similar viewing experience to other sports. Very fun sport to watch with lots of fast-paced action…where the games are completed in about hours.

    Appreciate your work and thank you again!

    Om Outreach

    26 Nov 20 at 3:03 am

  120. Great Post.

    Bbtv 24

    11 Jan 21 at 2:15 am

  121. […] Studies have shown that the ball is only in play for a total of 65 minutes in the average game so we can’t see a situation where games are extended for 30-40 minutes to make up for this, but perhaps it might make sense to reach a consistent standard for added on time. […]

  122. […] Studies have shown that the ball is only in play for a total of 65 minutes in the average game so we can’t see a situation where games are extended for 30-40 minutes to make up for this, but perhaps it might make sense to reach a consistent standard for added on time. […]

  123. Our findings reveal that while different sports produce wildly different broadcast experiences, NFL broadcasts are among the most interrupted and least action-packed broadcasts of any sport. Simply put, there s not a lot of actual football in a football game.


    21 Jan 21 at 3:22 am

  124. Sports with more continuous action and fewer stoppages may have a leg up on the NFL. Soccer and basketball broadcasts both offer more action and fewer interruptions than football broadcasts and they do it in a shorter time frame.


    10 Feb 21 at 1:38 pm

  125. Let s be honest! I don t ever watch any kind of sports programs or live competitions. All I do is stay at home and stay comfortably in my bed. But I remember that one time, the national soccer team of my country, Vietnam won second-place at some kind of tournament. That was the only time I feel really excited and emotional about something other than Netflix and video games.


    8 Apr 21 at 6:38 pm

  126. Thank you for the update, very nice site.So we are Provide Yesn2 Services Please Click Here.

    Harprit Singh

    27 Sep 21 at 2:20 am

  127. […] game cadence is slower and more routine than any of the other five big American sports (baseball, basketball, hockey, […]


    How much live action occurs in each sport? Ball in Play studies summarized at Nationals Arm Race

  129. Hi Todd,
    thanks for the stats above, it was what i was looking for this evening.

    i grew up in new england, now i have been working in germany for 15 years. I already loved soccer before I came over. I am also a new england patriots fan.

    When I showed my son the last one or two plays of an NFL game, I had forgotton that it takes forever to play out.

    However putting action/minute aside, I also have difficulty becoming a fan of european professional soccer. For example:

    there is no salary cap – making it impossible for smaller teams to compete in the one league that sincerely matters – the champion league. In the NFL I argue the salary cap has helped quite a bit to achieve some parity.

    Teams that hit the bottom of the win/loss table get booted out of the league and get demoted to the ‘minor league’. In contrast, the worst teams in the NLF get first pick.

    the champions league are qaulifiers from the previous year! sometimes the team is completely different from the one that qualified. and the whole tournament is dragged out over 9 months which is far too long.

    i cannot watch a game on television here – i need to subscribe to a service to see one. so much for socialism here in europe.

    Tim Arnold

    18 Feb 23 at 5:39 pm

  130. Soccer, basketball, hockey all have long live action play times. Of the three basketball has the entire 10 players playing both half’s of the court. Forwards and guards run close to each in distance. Similar to hockey players. Both basketball and hockey has unlimited substitution. In hockey they play 2-3 minutes and can rest and then come back in the game. In basketball they can play half a quarter and come out to rest and then come back in. Both of these sports have very intense back and forth play and players need rest. In soccer which has larger playing space makes players run farther for the entire game. For each team there are only 5 substitutes allowed and once out a player can’t return. Midfielder’s probably run the furthest during a game. Forwards run less and goalkeepers don’t run but jump or pivot quickly to stop a shot. Player time on each ball or puck varies depending on sport, position, and opposition. Hockey and basketball are the most intense games but players can rest during game time. Of the 3 sports soccer players play the longest of play time if they play the entire game. Again position is important when it comes to soccer goalkeepers and hockey goalie’s. Their time on pitch or ice are stored up energy bursts. Each sport has it’s own pace which makes it more interesting than American football. Sorry about that NFL fans. NFL has too many specialists playing each position. A NFL kicker who kicks the football like a soccer player does may only play minutes each game. NFL is the most physical with lots of strategy but too slow for me to get interested. And this comes from my fingers who worked for the late 60s to early 70s Los Angeles Rams for 5 years. My job was feeding oxygen to the linemen on the bench when they came out. I also fabricated custom braces for some of their injuries at times.

    John Anders

    9 Apr 23 at 12:55 am

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