The Benefits of Having Canadian Clubs in American Sports Leagues


The integration of Canadian clubs into American sports leagues has proven to be beneficial not only for the teams themselves but also for the broader sports community in both countries. As Canadian clubs compete in leagues such as the MLB, NBA, and NHL, they contribute to the diversity and competitiveness of these leagues, ultimately fostering a more engaging and exciting atmosphere for fans and athletes alike.

The growth of fan bases and increased viewership – One of the most apparent benefits of having clubs based in Canada playing American sports leagues is the expansion of the fan base and increased viewership. As these teams gain popularity in their home country, they attract more Canadian fans to follow the leagues and develop an interest in the sport. This growth in viewership extends beyond the teams’ home cities, creating a ripple effect that enhances the overall popularity of the leagues in both countries.

According to the NBA, the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Championship in 2019 boosted the viewership of NBA games in Canada by about 19% in the subsequent season. This clearly demonstrates the pull of Canadian clubs and their impact on increasing viewership.

Economic benefits for cities and leagues – The presence of Canadian clubs in American sports  leagues brings with it several economic benefits. These teams create jobs and stimulate local economies through ticket sales, merchandise, and other revenue streams. Additionally, hosting games in Canadian cities attracts visitors from the United States, who contribute to the local tourism industry by spending money on accommodation, dining, and entertainment.

A report by Ernst & Young revealed that the hosting of seven 2016 Toronto Blue Jays postseason games generated an estimated $48 million in economic benefits for the City of Toronto. This figure includes spending related to accommodations, transportation, food and beverage, entertainment, and retail.

Greater diversity and competition within leagues – Canadian clubs add a unique element of diversity to American sports leagues, both in terms of culture and playing style. The different approaches to training and competition can lead to exciting matchups and a more dynamic league overall. This increased competition ultimately benefits all teams involved, as it pushes them to continually improve and adapt to new challenges.

The cultural and stylistic diversity that Canadian teams bring to American leagues is not easily quantifiable. However, many sports analysts agree that the inclusion of these clubs leads to a more dynamic and competitive atmosphere.

Development of talent and infrastructure – Canadian clubs competing in American sports leagues contribute to the development of talent and sports infrastructure in both countries. The exposure to high-level competition encourages the growth and improvement of athletes, coaches, and support staff. Furthermore, the presence of these clubs in the leagues stimulates investment in sports facilities, academies, and other infrastructure, benefiting future generations of athletes.

An analysis by the Canadian Press found that the number of Canadian players in the NBA has more than tripled since the Toronto Raptors joined the league. This indicates how Canadian clubs help cultivate local talent and encourage infrastructure development.

Enhancing international relations and sports diplomacy – The integration of Canadian clubs into American sports leagues serves as a form of sports diplomacy, strengthening the relationship between the two countries. Through their participation in these leagues, Canadian clubs foster a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect between athletes and fans, contributing to a positive international image for both nations.

While difficult to measure, the shared enthusiasm for sports can foster goodwill and mutual understanding between nations, as evidenced by countless examples of sports diplomacy throughout history.

Promoting the sport on a global scale – The presence of Canadian clubs in American sports  leagues contributes to the promotion of the sport on a global scale. As these teams gain recognition and success, they inspire fans and athletes in other countries to take up the sport and pursue their own dreams of competing at the highest level.

The international success of Canadian clubs, like the Toronto Raptors’ NBA Championship win, brings global attention to the sport. This is evident in the growth of basketball’s popularity worldwide, with FIBA reporting a significant increase in global participation numbers following the Raptors’ win.

Cross-border rivalries fuel fan engagement – One of the exciting aspects of having Canadian clubs in American sports leagues is the development of cross-border rivalries. These intense matchups between Canadian and American teams capture the attention of fans and contribute to increased fan engagement. The passion and excitement surrounding these rivalries not only draw in more viewers but also create a thrilling atmosphere at games, further enhancing the overall fan experience.

An ESPN poll found that games featuring Canadian-American rivalries, such as the Toronto Blue Jays vs. the New York Yankees in MLB, tend to attract higher viewership rates than other matchups.

Opportunities for sponsorship and marketing – The integration of Canadian clubs into American sports leagues offers unique opportunities for sponsorship and marketing. Brands looking to expand their presence in both countries can leverage the popularity of these teams and their games to reach a broader audience. This increased exposure can lead to new partnerships and collaborations, ultimately benefiting the teams, the leagues, and the sponsors involved.

According to Forbes, the Toronto Raptors saw a 25% increase in their overall franchise value after winning the NBA Championship, showing the potential for increased marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

A catalyst for the sports betting industry – The growing popularity of Canadian clubs in American sports leagues has had a significant impact on the sports betting industry in Canada this year. The increased interest in these teams and their games has led to a surge in sports betting activity, as fans seek to engage with the sport on a deeper level. The growth of the sports betting industry benefits both countries by generating additional revenue and creating new job opportunities.

Exchange of ideas and innovation in sports science – The inclusion of Canadian clubs in American sports leagues also encourages the exchange of ideas and innovation in sports science, coaching, and training methods. This collaboration between teams and professionals from both countries can lead to  tely benefiting the athletes and contributing to the overall growth of the sport.

The sharing of ideas and techniques between different countries can lead to innovations that improve the performance and safety of athletes.

A platform for social and community initiatives – Canadian clubs in American sports leagues provide a platform for social and community initiatives. Teams can use their influence to raise awareness about important causes and engage with their communities through charity events, fundraisers, and other initiatives. This involvement not only strengthens the bond between the teams and their fans but also contributes to positive social change.

Many Canadian clubs, like the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL, have established community programs. The Canucks for Kids Fund, for example, has granted $86 million to charities in British Columbia since its inception.

Increased media coverage and content creation – The presence of Canadian clubs in American sports  leagues leads to increased media coverage and content creation. As these teams gain popularity, journalists, bloggers, and content creators dedicate more time and resources to covering their games, stories, and players. This increased coverage not only keeps fans informed and engaged but also provides opportunities for athletes to share their stories and experiences, fostering a deeper connection between fans and players.

Following the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 Championship win, mentions of the team in global news sources increased by over 200%, according to media analytics company Meltwater.

A source of national pride and identity – Lastly, Canadian clubs in American sports leagues serve as a source of national pride and identity for fans in Canada, some might even call it patriotism. As these teams compete and succeed on the international stage, they inspire pride in the country’s sporting achievements. This sense of national identity can have a unifying effect, bringing fans together to support their teams and celebrate their successes.

A survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute found that 72% of Canadians felt a sense of pride in the Toronto Raptors’ NBA Championship win, demonstrating the unifying potential of sports.

Amidst the recent Maple Leafs Playoff Series win against Tampa Bay Lightning we thought we’d delve into the subject of the benefits of having Canadian sports clubs playing in the US leagues. We hope you look forward as much as we do to seeing more Canadian-based clubs infiltrate the American scene, for a more diverse athletic landscape that brings not only states but also nations together as one.

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