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8 insanely popular sports that are rarely played in the U.S.

By: Josh Lew on July 2, 2014, 10:35 a.m.
Sepak takraw players in action

Photo: Shahjehan/Shutterstock

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Beyond soccer

They’re called “niche” sports in the United States — immensely popular in other countries but played by only a handful of enthusiasts in the U.S. In the past, you could have included soccer in this category, but a domestic pro league, extensive cable TV coverage and a wealth of youth programs have taken it into the American mainstream.

Some of these sports are difficult to understand and appreciate unless you grew up with them. But they all offer excitement and drama to their fans — and fuel many young athletes' daydreams.

These eight sports (including sepak takraw, pictured here) pack stadiums around the world but are relatively foreign to American fans and athletes.