Basketball Vs Soccer: Head To Head Comparison Between Them

Let’s start with the common grounds these two sports have.

They’re both insanely popular, with a huge fan following. Both are played in amateur and professional levels. Both have different leagues and tournaments at both levels.

Soccer and basketball have seen some of the richest competitions and players in the entire sport's history. Both have icon players that revolutionized the sport. And finally, both have hardcore fan bases who gather to cheer their time on a week in, week out basis.

These are what you can say similar characteristics of both sports. But beyond that, they are very different from each other.

In this article, we’ll discuss basketball vs soccer, their charms and differences.  We’re not here to find out a winner, rather appreciate the beautiful different things both sports have to offer. So, keep reading.

Basketball Vs Football: What Are The Differences?

1. Basic Differences

Field: Basketball is played on a hard surface, usually known as ‘court’. The court is made of wood or synthetic materials. The dimension of a basketball court is 28 by 15 meters.

On the other hand, football is played on a grass surface, whether natural or artificial. The ground is known as ‘pitch’.  A football pitch is way bigger than a court, usually 90-120 meters in length and 45-90 meters in width.

Apparels: Both the games don’t require additional bat, racquet or club. The whole game revolves around one ball. Basketball players wear sneakers, shorts and mostly sleeveless jerseys. Soccer players wear shin guards, shorts, cleats, and jersey. The goalkeeper in soccer wears additional gloves.

2. Ball Control Rules

So, how are these two sports played? We already know a ball is all you basically need, but there are differences in what to do with that ball.

In basketball, you control and pass the ball by hands. Kicking the ball is prohibited. The only way to score is through your hands.

For soccer, the rule is the exact opposite. You cannot touch the ball with hands and arms (except for keeper within the box). You can use any other parts of the body to kick, pass or move the ball.

3. Team Members And Positioning

A soccer team consists of 11 players on the field. The positions are goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards. These are just general categories, there are several customized positions available for each position. For example, a defender can be center back, wing back, sweeper or stopper.

A basketball team has 5 players that play on the court. The positions are point guard, shooting guard, center, small forward and power forward. Since there is less number of players involved in this game, all the players need to be active and participate in both attacking and defending.

4. Scoring And Winning Criteria

To win both games, you need to score more than your opponents.

Both games have target areas where you need to send the ball through. For soccer, it’s the goalpost, for basketball, it’s the rim or basket.

The rims are set in a specific height, and a player has to throw the ball or jump to score. As for soccer, the goalpost is a rectangular box placed in the ground, and a player has to send the ball past this post to score.

In soccer, you score goals. The team scoring more goals wins. In basketball, you score points. Depending on which distance you score from, you can get 1, 2, 3 points. Usually, scoring from near the rim results in 2 points.

In soccer, it’s really rare to see a team scoring past 5 goals in competitive leagues. Whereas in basketball, it’s common to see 80-100 points.

In basketball, fast attacks and counterattacks are the keys to score. Since the court is smaller in size, fast breaks allow players to score on the counter.

Soccer fields are much larger. Still, the ball can travel a long way. To avoid any unfair advantage, soccer has offside. Which means the ball receiver must have a defender between him and the opposition goalie. Otherwise, what would stop the players from making a really long pass near opposition box and score from that, right?

5. Game Duration And Subs

Basketball is played for 48 minutes divided equally into 4 quarters. However, with timeouts, stoppages, and breaks, the game can take 2 hours.

Soccer is played for 90 minutes divided into 2 halves. There isn’t any timeout, but each team is allowed 10 minutes break between two half and 1-6 minutes of additional playing time (known as stoppage time) after each half.

The stoppage time is given to compensate for the lost time during the game due to fouls or injuries.

As for subs, a soccer coach can send only 3 substitutions during the entire gameplay. After that, even if a player is unable to play due to injury, there is no option to substitute him.

In basketball, the substitution number has no limit. You can change as many players as you wish, but only when the ball is dead and the clock is stopped. That’s why you’ll see players coming on and off the court all the time during a basketball game.

6. Fouls​

Both soccer and basketball involve full contact during gameplay.

They’re both physical game. But if you compare between the two, soccer is probably more demanding.

In soccer, tackles are allowed. Not only that, even an aggressive tackle can be forgiven if the tackler reaches the ball first. Soccer has seen some of the serious injuries that had trimmed several months off the player’s careers.

 In basketball, tackling the ball player directly isn’t allowed. Also, any aggressive contact with any player is prohibited.

7. Penalties​

In both sports, there are referees that determine if a contact is foul or to what extent. The basketball game has 2-3 referees to cover the game from various angles. In soccer, the game is supervised by one person, with the help of two assistant referees.

In basketball, defensive fouls result in a free throw for the opposition, while offensive fouls mean the possession will be given to the opposition. If a player commits 6 fouls within the 48 minutes of gameplay, he’s out of the game.

In football, there are many reasons that instigate a foul. Improper kicking or handling of a ball, dangerous tackling, even undermining the referee can result in fouls.

For mild fouls, the referee will give a warning and the opposition will be rewarded a free kick. For serious fouls, the player will either be handed a yellow or a red card. Getting two yellow in a game also result in a red card.

If one team commits foul in its respective penalty box, it’ll award the opposition a penalty instead of a free kick. That means the goalie has to face a set-piece within the penalty box alone.

8. Popularity And Earnings

And here’s the juiciest part of our soccer vs basketball comparison comes. People are interested in numbers, whether it is the earning of a player or some random person from a game show. Although we might not get a single penny out of this interest, let’s admit, it feels good to read them.

When it comes to popularity, in 2009, basketball racked up about 6% in revenue generation among all the sports. Since there are hundreds of sports out there, the 2.7 billion euro is really an impressive number.

On the other hand, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Back in 2009, it consumed near 43% percent of the market. In other words, it earned 19.5 billion euros.

However, a lot has changed since then. While basketball might not be as global as soccer yet, it has seen rapid growth in the American market. The NBA to be more specific has seen a growth in terms of revenue and popularity. In fact, according to Wikipedia, it has surpassed the English premier league in terms of revenue. While the former earned 6.27 billion euros, the latter fallen slightly behind at 5.34 billion euros.

Don’t get me wrong though. All of these shows how basketball has grown in popularity within the USA. Players from around 39 countries play in the NBA. Also, it has seen the richest player of all time, Michael Jordan.

Conversely, soccer is still the most popular sport. If you combine global earnings and compare with basketball, soccer will be miles ahead. In fact, unlike basketball, soccer has several leagues that generate 1+ billion euros in revenue.

And finally, the FIFA world cup. Oh boy! It enjoys search popularity, excitement, and broadcasts across the whole world. FIBA is yet to enjoy such popularity and broadcasting clout.

Final Words

Here we are at the end of our basketball vs soccer guide. Both games are beautiful and thrilling to watch. And you’ll see viewers discussing over previous matches for the next few days.

Both games even have seen hardcore fan bases who wouldn’t mind getting aggressive to protect the image of their team. The players are athletic, strong and soon become a charismatic icon within the fan base.

As for the US, basketball and the NBA are more popular than soccer and MLS. With only 0.85 billion euros in revenue, MLS is no way in a position to catch the NBA. However, for the global market, the scenario is different.

Anyway, that has little to do with us fans. All we can do is enjoy both sports, cheer our favorite team and feel the adrenaline rush while they play.

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Donald S. Cochran

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