Sports in Boston

Boston, the capital city of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and largest city in New England, is home to several major league sports teams, including the Red Sox (baseball), the Celtics (basketball) and the Bruins (ice hockey). The New England Patriots (American football) and the New England Revolution (soccer) play at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxborough, Massachusetts. Several Boston-area colleges and universities are also active in college athletics.

Sports are a major part of the city's culture (as well as the culture of the Greater Boston area). Boston sports fans are known for their fanatical devotion to the Red Sox and knowledge of the team's history. Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball (MLB) and holds a legendary status among baseball fans.[1][2][3] Within the same era, what is now the world's oldest existing indoor multi-sports facility - today's Matthews Arena, primarily used by Northeastern University's college sports teams - first opened in 1910, only some 400 meters (1/4 mile) away from the original home field of the Red Sox - and is where on December 1, 1924, the Boston Bruins played their first NHL regular season game.[4]

Boston is the only city in professional sports in which all facilities are privately owned and operated. The Patriots own Gillette Stadium, the Red Sox own Fenway Park, and TD Garden is owned by Delaware North, owner of the Bruins. The Celtics rent TD Garden from Delaware North.

In the 2000s, Boston's professional teams had arguably the most successful decade in sports history, winning ten championships (five by the Patriots, three by the Red Sox and one each by the Celtics and Bruins).[5] When the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the city of Boston became the first city in the 21st century to have all four of its major professional league teams win a league championship, and it is the only city ever to have championships in all four major professional leagues within a ten-year span (from the Patriots' victory in February 2002 to the Bruins' in June 2011).[6] In that same time period, Boston's teams completed what Sports Illustrated dubbed as the "Grand Slam of North American sports."[7] With the Patriots' victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, the four major Boston-area sports teams completed a grand-slam in six years (the 2008 Celtics, the 2011 Bruins, the 2013 Red Sox and the 2014 Patriots). Beyond that, several of the teams were league finalists: the Revolution four times, the Patriots twice and the Bruins and Celtics once apiece.

With the Bruins reaching the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, this allowed Boston to join Philadelphia as being the only cities to have had all of their teams play in each of the four major North American professional sports leagues' title rounds since 2000, following the Patriots in Super Bowls XXXVI in 2002, XXXVIII in 2004, XXXIX in 2005, XLII in 2008, XLVI in 2012, XLIX in 2015, LI in 2017, and LII in 2018, and winning five of them, the Red Sox winning World Series titles in 2004 (ending the Curse of the Bambino), 2007, and 2013, and the Celtics in the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010 and winning in 2008. In addition, Boston beat out Philadelphia for playing in all of the "big" league championship rounds in the shortest time in the new millennium, as it took 9 years for Philadelphia to achieve this feat; Boston needed only three years and eight months. However, Philadelphia achieved this feat much earlier, in 1980 when all four major league teams played in their respective championship games. From 2004 to 2015, all four Boston major league teams have each reached the championship rounds two times or more.

Major league professional teams

Club League Sport Venue (capacity) Founded Championships
Boston Red Sox MLB Baseball Fenway Park (37,500) 1901 8 World Series; 13 AL Pennants
Boston Bruins NHL Hockey TD Garden (17,565) 1924 6 Stanley Cups
Boston Celtics NBA Basketball TD Garden (18,625) 1946 17 NBA titles
New England Patriots NFL Football Gillette Stadium (68,750) 1960 5 Super Bowls; 10 AFC Championships
New England Revolution MLS Soccer Gillette Stadium (68,750) 1995 1 U.S. Open Cup; 1 Superliga
Total Championships 38


The Boston Red Sox are a founding member of the American League of Major League Baseball, and one of the four American League teams (the White Sox, Indians, and Tigers are the others) to still play in their original city. The "BoSox", or "Sox" as they are colloquially called, play their home games at Fenway Park, located near Kenmore Square, in the Fenway section of Boston. Built in 1912, it is the oldest sports arena or stadium in active use in the United States among the four major professional sports. Boston was also the site of the first game of the first baseball World Series, in 1903. The series was played between the Red Sox (then known as the "Americans") and the Pittsburgh Pirates,[8] while the team still played at the Huntington Avenue Grounds (the site is now a part of Northeastern University). The Sox won that series and seven more since then (1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007, and 2013). Recently the 2004 team is said to have broken the 86-year-long "Curse of the Bambino." There have been many legendary players on the team; members of the Baseball Hall of Fame include Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Pedro Martínez, manager Joe Cronin and owner Tom Yawkey.


The Boston Celtics basketball team, who play at the TD Garden, were a founding member of the Basketball Association of America, one of the two leagues that merged to form the National Basketball Association. The Celtics have the distinction of having more Championships than any other NBA team with 17 championships from 1957 to 2008.[9] They had a remarkable run of titles from the 1956–57 until the 1968–69 seasons, winning 11 of 13 championships in that span, including an NBA record 8 titles in a row from 1958–59 until 1965–66, under legendary center Bill Russell.

The list of Celtics who are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame include, among others, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Larry Bird, Sam Jones, Nate Archibald, original owner Walter Brown, and longtime coach and team president Red Auerbach, who worked for the team until his death in 2006 at age 89. Longtime announcer Johnny Most was also honored by the Basketball Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award. After finishing with a record of 24-58 in 2006–07, the team acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett from the Seattle SuperSonics and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively, to aid longtime Celtics star Paul Pierce make up one of the best defensive and offensive lineups in NBA history. With help of up-and-coming Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and head coach Doc Rivers the team once again made history by winning the 2008 NBA Finals and their 17th championship against long-time rivals Los Angeles Lakers.

Ice hockey

The TD Garden, above North Station, is the home to the Boston Bruins ice hockey team of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Bruins, founded in 1924, were the first American member of the NHL and an Original Six franchise, and have won six Stanley Cups, the latest being in 2011, where they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. The Bruins' first venue — the only one of the Original Six teams to have its original venue still in existence — was the former Boston Arena on Huntington Avenue, having been built in 1910 under that name and now exists as Northeastern University's Matthews Arena, which is also the oldest purpose-built indoor ice hockey arena still in use in the world for the sport, used for Northeastern Huskies collegiate ice hockey and basketball in the 21st century.

Such Hall of Fame players as forward Milt Schmidt, and defensemen Eddie Shore, Raymond Bourque and the legendary Bobby Orr have played for the Bruins, as well as the NHL league's tallest-ever player, Slovakian-born defenseman Zdeno Chára, the current captain of the Bruins. The team has been managed/coached by Hall of Famers such as team founder Charles Adams (namesake of hockey's old Adams Division), Art Ross (donor and namesake of the NHL's trophy for annual scoring champion), Walter A. Brown, Schmidt and Harry Sinden. Orr was voted the greatest athlete in Boston history in the Boston Globe newspaper's poll of New Englanders in 1975, beating out baseball and basketball stars such as Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Carl Yastrzemski and Bob Cousy.[10]

Since their initial meeting on December 8, 1924,[11] the longest-standing rivalry in the NHL is the one between the Bruins and their Canadian archrival, the Montreal Canadiens, as these two teams have met 34 times in the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs, with Montreal taking 18-straight playoff series from the Bruins between 1946 and 1987.

Boston's local colleges also are very strong in hockey. Boston College and Boston University are always competitive and at the top of the college rankings, both competing in the Hockey East conference. In the past ten years, Boston College has won three national championships (2008, 2010 and 2012) and Boston University has won one (2009). BC and BU, along with the Northeastern Huskies, all of Hockey East, and the Harvard Crimson of ECAC Hockey, compete in the Beanpot, considered the most prestigious in-season collegiate hockey tournament. It is played on the first two Mondays of February at TD Garden, with the semifinal matchups rotating on a year-to-year basis.


The Boston Game

The Boston Game is thought to be the origin of American football, played by New England prep schools. In 1855, manufactured inflatable balls were introduced. These were much more regular in shape than the handmade balls of earlier times, making kicking and carrying more skillful. Two competing versions had evolved during this time; the "kicking game" which resembled soccer and the "running" or "carrying game" which resembled rugby union. hybrid of the two, known as the "Boston game", was played by a group known as the Oneida Football Club. The club, considered by some historians as the first formal football club in the United States, was formed in 1861 by schoolboys who played the "Boston game" on Boston Common. They played mostly among themselves early on; though they organized a team of non-members to play a game in November 1863, which the Oneidas won easily. The game caught the attention of the press, and the "Boston game" continued to grow throughout the 1860s.[12]

Early professional football

The Boston Braves were established in the city in 1932. The team changed its name to the Boston Redskins the following year, but relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1937.

Modern professional football

In 1959, Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded a franchise in the American Football League (AFL), bringing football back to Boston. Throughout the sixties, the team lacked a permanent home field, playing at Nickerson Field (at the time still known and configured as Braves Field), Fenway Park, Harvard Stadium, and BC's Alumni Stadium (although the historic core of the Harvard campus and most of the BC campus are outside of the city limits, both stadiums lie within the city). In 1970, the AFL merged with the NFL and the Patriots joined the league. From 1971–2002, the team played at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, a site closer to the state of Rhode Island. However, the New England Patriots are generally considered to be Boston's football team. The 2002 season brought the opening of Gillette Stadium, located next door to Foxboro Stadium.

Businessman Robert Kraft, who at the time owned Foxboro Stadium and the team's lease for it, purchased the team in 1994 for $175 million, ensuring the Patriots would remain in New England amid a shuffle of owners and rumors of a relocation to St. Louis. The team experienced a recent surge of success, mostly with the turn of the century. The Patriots have not had a losing season since 2000, and since then, they only missed the playoffs in the 2002 and 2008 seasons. The team has made ten Super Bowl appearances and won five of them (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, and LI) and became the only team to go 16–0 in the regular season since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Notable people among the team include head coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady, who among others would help make the Patriots consistently successful.


Rugby in Boston has a strong following; the city is home to numerous amateur, college and semi-professional sides. The city has three teams in the premier division of USA rugby union, the Rugby Super LeagueMystic River Rugby Club, the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, and Boston RFC.

The city has two rugby league teams who play in the USA Rugby League. They are the Boston 13s and Oneida FC.[13] Both teams play out of Henry G. Steinbrenner '27 Stadium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On August 25, 2012, the Boston 13s hosted the 2012 USARL Championship Game losing out 22–28 to Jacksonville Axemen.[14]

Other sports teams

Club League Gender Sport Venue Established Disbanded Championships
Boston Lobsters WTT Mixed Tennis Ferncroft Country Club 2005 2015 None
Boston Demons USAFL Men's Australian Rules Football Ipswich River Park 1997 USAFL Premierships (Div. 1): 1998, 1999
Boston Cannons MLL Men's Lacrosse (Outdoor) Gillette Stadium 2001 1 Steinfeld Cup
Boston Breakers NWSL Women's Soccer Jordan Field 2001/2009[15] 2018 None
Boston Aztec WPSL Women's Soccer Amesbury Sports Park 2005 2017 1 WPSL Title
Boston Massacre
Boston Derby Dames
WFTDA Women's Flat track roller derby Amesbury Sports Park 2005 None
Boston Whitecaps MLU Ultimate Frisbee Bowditch Field 2012 2 MLU Championships
Boston Pride NWHL Women's Ice hockey Warrior Ice Arena 2015 1 Isobel Cup
Boston Renegades WFA Women's Football James R. O'Connor Stadium 2015 None
Boston Storm UWLX Women's Lacrosse "Barnstorming" format 2016 None
Boston Uprising OWL Mixed Overwatch Blizzard Arena 2017 None

Boston is home to three professional lacrosse teams, including the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse, who play at Harvard University's Harvard Stadium. The National Lacrosse League team in Boston is the Boston Blazers, who began in the 2009 season and play at the TD Garden. The Boston Storm, who began in the 2016 season, is one of the original four teams of the United Women's Lacrosse League.

Two different women's soccer teams known as the Boston Breakers have been charter members of three separate professional leagues. The original version, founded in 2001, played in the short-lived Women's United Soccer Association. The Breakers were resurrected in 2009 to play in WUSA's equally short-lived successor, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS). After WPS folded following its 2011 season, the Breakers remained in operation, playing the 2012 season in the newly established semi-pro WPSL Elite. In December 2012, the Breakers were announced as one of the eight charter teams of the new National Women's Soccer League, which began play in 2013. While the WUSA and WPS Breakers played at Harvard Stadium, the NWSL team played its first season at the smaller Dilboy Stadium in Somerville. The NWSL Breakers moved to Harvard Stadium for the 2014 season, and then moved to the nearby venue now known as Jordan Field, where they remained until their demise after the 2017 season.

There have been other professional sports teams to play in the city, such as the Boston Beacons and Boston Minutemen of the NASL. Boston's first all-female flat-track roller derby league, Boston Derby Dames, formed in May 2005. The league is among the original members of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.

College sports

Boston's many colleges and universities are active in college athletics. There are four NCAA Division I members in the city: Boston College (member of the Atlantic Coast Conference), Boston University (Patriot League), Northeastern University (Colonial Athletic Association), and Harvard University (Ivy League).

All except Harvard, which belongs to ECAC Hockey, belong to the Hockey East conference in hockey. The hockey teams of these four universities meet every year in a four-team tournament known as the "Beanpot Tournament", played at the TD Garden (and the Boston Garden before that) over two Monday nights in February.[16]

The oldest continuously used indoor and outdoor sports stadia in the world are used by Boston schools: Harvard Stadium (built in 1903) and the aforementioned Boston Arena (now known as Matthews Arena, built in 1910), which is used by Northeastern University.

Amateur and participatory sports

Boston has amateur and participatory sports and recreation. The 18 mile loop through the Paul Dudley White Bicycle Path runs on both sides of the river within the Charles River Reservation for bicyclists and runners. Boston is also home is the oldest continuously operating community sailing program in the United States. It is located in Boston along the Charles River Esplanade between the Longfellow Bridge and the Hatch Shell. Community Boating, Inc offers members instruction for sailing and windsurfing, and allows members to use CBI-owned sailboats on the Charles River. The Boston Ski and Sports Club offers team sports leagues in Basketball, Ultimate, Dodgeball, Football, Tennis, Volleyball, Golf, and other indoor and outdoor sports.


The city is home to the Boston Marathon, one of the best known sporting events in the city. It is a 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) run from Hopkinton to Copley Square in the Back Bay and the world's oldest annual marathon,[17] running on Patriots' Day in April.

The city is home to the Head of the Charles Regatta. Longwood Cricket Club (despite its name) is the oldest tennis club in the New World, located in Chestnut Hill. It is the site of the first Davis Cup competition. Boston is the start and finish for the Boston–Montreal–Boston cycling event.

In January 2015, the city was picked by the United States Olympic Committee to represent the nation in the bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games. But seven months later, the city withdrew itself from consideration amid concerns of the financial burdens associated with hosting the Olympics.[18] Los Angeles was then selected as the US candidate and was ultimately awarded the right to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.


While a number of cities and teams have rivalries with Boston, regional proximity has made Boston intense rivals with New York. Teams in Boston and New York offer some of the best rivalries in their respective sports, none are more famous, however, than the longtime feud between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in Major League Baseball. The viciousness and fierceness of the rivalry has led to the New York – Boston rivalry being evident between the Patriots and the Jets in the National Football League and the Celtics and the Knicks and the Celtics with the Brooklyn Nets in the National Basketball Association. The second-oldest rivalry in Boston sports is the one between the Bruins and their archrival, the Montreal Canadiens, which began in 1924 and often has been as intense as the Sox-Yankees rivalry for Boston sports fans.

In addition to the Bruins-Canadiens ice hockey rivalry, the B's often clash with the Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and have a history with the Carolina Hurricanes due to the franchise having formerly been known as the Hartford Whalers and located in Hartford, Connecticut. The Bruins have also been longtime rivals with the New York Rangers also due to the fact that both teams are members of the NHL's Original Six franchises, a group that also includes the Maple Leafs.

The Patriots are rivals with frequent playoff opponents Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts.

The Red Sox have a rivalry with the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The NBA's biggest rivalry, is also the Celtics'. The rivalry between the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers is the most storied in the Association as the two teams have met in the NBA Finals 12 times and together account for a total of 33 NBA championships, more than half the total number of championships in the league. The Celtics also have rivalries with the Philadelphia 76ers (considered by many to be the NBA's second greatest rivalry after Celtics-Lakers), especially during the 1960s when centers Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain battled for supremacy, the New York Knicks, and the Detroit Pistons, particularly during the late 1980s when the Pistons were about to supplant the Celtics as the best team in the NBA Eastern Conference.

Major league professional championships

Notable sports figures






See also

Notes and references

  1. Boswell, John; Fisher, David (1992). Fenway Park: Legendary Home of the Boston Red Sox. ISBN 9780316103374.
  2. "Top Ten Baaseball Stadiums". Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  3. " / Fenway Park". Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  4. "NHL hockey came to the U.S. on Dec. 1, 1924". National Hockey League. December 1, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2016. The National Hockey League celebrates another historic anniversary...remembering the first NHL game played in the United States, as the Boston Bruins hosted the Montreal Maroons, both expansion teams, at the Boston Arena on Dec. 1, 1924.
  5. "Boston versus Los Angeles for best sports decade". ESPN. 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  6. "Long Memory or Short, Boston Fans Savor Success". New York Times. 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  7. Shaughnessy, Dan (June 20, 2011). "Being a sports fan in Boston has become embarrassment of riches". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  8. "1903 World Series—Major League Baseball: World Series History". Major League Baseball at 2007. Retrieved February 18, 2007.
  9. "NBA Finals: All-Time Champions". NBA. 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2007.
  10. "Orr Is The Greatest". The Deseret News. June 2, 1975. p. 20.
  11. "Canadiens Downed Boston, Rallying in Final Period". The Montreal Gazette. Boston, MA USA. Canadian Press. December 9, 1924. p. 16. Retrieved June 12, 2017. The world champion Canadiens defeated Boston in a fast game here tonight, 4-3, incidentally giving 5,000 Boston hockey fans the best exhibition of the Canadian game on record here.
  12. Allaway, Roger (2001). "Were the Oneidas playing soccer or not?". The USA Soccer History Archives. Dave Litterer. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  15. Founded in 2001 as a member of the WUSA, which folded after its 2003 season. Re-established as a charter member of its successor, WPS, in 2009. After the demise of WPS in 2012, the Breakers played the 2012 season in WPSL Elite before being named as one of the eight charter members of the new National Women's Soccer League, which launched in 2013. The team folded during the 2017–18 offseason.
  16. Bertagna, Joe (December 27, 2001). "The Beanpot At 50 — Still Inspiring and Still Growing". Beanpot Hockey. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
  17. "B.A.A. Boston Marathon Race Facts". Boston Athletic Association. 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
  18. Arsenault, Mark (November 23, 2014). "Boston bidders hope time is right for frugal Games". The Boston Globe.
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