Sports in Washington, D.C.

RFK Stadium has been home to at least 10 professional teams (including D.C. United of MLS).

Washington, D.C., has major league sports teams, popular college sports teams, and a variety of other team and individual sports. The Washington metropolitan area is also home to several major sports venues including Capital One Arena, RFK Stadium, FedExField, Audi Field, and Nationals Park.

The NFL's Washington Commanders were among the most successful professional sports teams in North America throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, making four Super Bowl appearances and winning three in a ten-year period ending in 1992. The sports of this region would then fall into a period of irrelevance; after the NHL's Washington Capitals reached the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, none of the "Big Four" teams in the area (the Commanders, the Capitals, the NBA's Washington Wizards and MLB's Washington Nationals) would reach its league's semifinal round for several years. The Commanders and Wizards often struggled in their respective regular seasons, while the Capitals and Nationals were known for having spectacular regular seasons followed by demoralizing playoff losses. (However, D.C. United of Major League Soccer would win several league championships during the late 1990s and early 2000s.)

In 2018, the Big Four drought was broken when the Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. The following year, the Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in the 2019 World Series. Outside of the Big Four, the Washington Valor defeated the Baltimore Brigade to win ArenaBowl XXXI in July 2018, and the Washington Mystics defeated the Connecticut Sun in the 2019 WNBA Finals barely a month before the Nationals won their title, giving the Washington area four first-time champions in under two years. In addition, the Washington Spirit of the NWSL captured their first NWSL championship in 2021.

Popular collegiate teams include the Georgetown Hoyas and Maryland Terrapins; both schools have each won an NCAA Division I men's basketball championship (Georgetown in 1984, Maryland in 2002). The region is also home to two regional sports television networks: NBC Sports Washington, based in Bethesda, Maryland, and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, based in Baltimore.

Professional sports[edit]

The following table shows the major league sports teams in the Washington area.

Club Sport League Founded Venue Attendance Major honors
Washington Commanders Football NFL 1937[a] FedExField 61,028[1] Pre-1966 NFL champions: 1937, 1942
Super Bowl champions: 1982, 1987, 1991
Washington Wizards Men's Basketball NBA 1973[a] Capital One Arena 17,487[2] NBA champions: 1978
Washington Nationals Baseball MLB 2005[a] Nationals Park 27,898[3] World Series champions: 2019
Washington Capitals Ice hockey NHL 1974 Capital One Arena 18,508[4] Stanley Cup champions: 2018
Presidents' Trophy: 2010, 2016, 2017
D.C. United Men's Soccer MLS 1996 Audi Field 17,544[5] MLS Cup champions: 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004
Supporters' Shield: 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007[b]
Old Glory DC Rugby MLR 2018 Segra Field 5,000 None
DC Defenders Football XFL 2018 Audi Field 17,163 XFL North Division Champions (2023)
Washington Spirit Women's Soccer NWSL 2011[c] Audi Field (primary)
Segra Field (secondary)
4,096[6] NWSL champions: 2021
Washington Mystics Women's Basketball WNBA 1998 Entertainment and Sports Arena 4,111 WNBA champions: 2019
  1. ^ a b c Year team moved to Washington area
  2. ^ Other D.C. United honors include the Copa Interamericana: 1998; CONCACAF Champions League: 1998; and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: 1996, 2008, 2013.
  3. ^ Founded as D.C. United Women; rebranded as Washington Spirit in 2012 and started NWSL play in 2013.

Map of major league teams and sports stadiums in Washington, D.C.[edit]

Current location of major league teams in Washington, D.C. (the Commanders play in Landover, Maryland)


D.C. United match at Audi Field in 2019
D.C. United trophy collection

Washington is home to an original Major League Soccer club, D.C. United, which began play at RFK Stadium in 1996. One of the most successful MLS teams (with twelve major trophies, won domestically and at an international level), United has won four MLS Cups, including three of the first four played. They also won the U.S. Open Cup in their first year, in 2008, and again in 2013. In addition, United have captured four MLS Supporters Shields, the most out of any MLS club in the region. D.C. United's 1997 MLS Cup victory at RFK Stadium was the only time a Washington team has won a championship within the District.[7] United moved to their new home, Audi Field, in 2018.

The region hosts a top-level women's soccer team, the Washington Spirit. The team had historically played at the Maryland SoccerPlex, but in 2019 moved select games to Audi Field. In 2020, the Spirit will transition away from the SoccerPlex, playing four home games at each of three venues—the SoccerPlex, Audi Field, and Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia. Then in 2021, the team will leave the SoccerPlex entirely, splitting home games between Audi Field and Segra Field. The team is one of the eight charter members of the National Women's Soccer League, a professional league launched by the United States Soccer Federation in 2013.

Since 2019, the area has been represented in the second tier of U.S. men's soccer, the USL Championship, by Loudoun United FC, owned and operated by D.C. United as their official reserve side. Loudoun United started play at Audi Field, moving to their permanent home of Segra Field during their first season.

RFK Stadium has hosted two more MLS Cup championships. In 2000, the Kansas City Wizards (now known as Sporting Kansas City) won their first championship with a 1–0 win over the Chicago Fire. In the 2007 MLS Cup, the Houston Dynamo defeated the New England Revolution 2–1. RFK Memorial Stadium also served as a soccer venue in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 1996 Summer Olympics. FedExField has also hosted several prominent soccer games, including six matches in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. In July 2011, a match between Manchester United and Barcelona at FedExField drew a crowd of 81,807, a record soccer attendance for the D.C. metropolitan area.[8]

American football[edit]

Sammy Baugh was among the NFL's early pioneers and among football's greatest ever players.

The National Football League's (NFL) Washington Commanders (known as the Washington Redskins until 2020) have played professional football in the Washington, D.C. area since 1937, when the team moved from Boston, where it was founded in 1932. Believing the team would find greater financial success in the nation's capital, the team's owner, George Preston Marshall moved the team to Washington, where they played at Griffith Stadium until 1960. Upon arriving in Washington, the team found immediate success, winning the 1937 NFL Championship over the Chicago Bears, with a final score of 28-21. The Redskins were led by Sammy Baugh, who is widely considered to be one of the best and most important football players in the early years of the NFL. Baugh played multiple positions, including quarterback, defensive back, and punter. He was the first quarterback to popularize the forward pass, and threw the ball down field with greater success than any quarterback before. The Redskins lost the 1940 NFL Championship game 73-0 to the Bears, in what remains the most lopsided final score in NFL history. It is believed that the team performed so poorly in that game as a form of protest against the team's ownership. Sammy Baugh led the Redskins to their second championship in 1942 as well, defeating the Bears 14-6 in the championship game, which was played at Griffith Stadium in Washington. The Redskins lost the 1943 NFL Championship 41-21 to the Chicago Bears and lost the 1945 NFL Championship by a score of 15-14 to the Cleveland Rams.

Since that final NFL Championship game appearance in 1945 through the 1970s, the Redskins were perennially among the worst teams in the league, even when Sonny Jurgenson took over as the team's quarterback in the 1960s. Jurgenson was widely considered to be among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history during his time. Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi coached the Redskins for one season in 1969, before dying of cancer. That was the first season the Redskins finished with a winning record since 1955. George Allen coached the team to Super Bowl VII in 1972, where they lost to the undefeated Miami Dolphins, 14-7.

Joe Gibbs coached the team to four Super Bowl appearances and three victories in a span of nine years from 1982 to 1991. He is the only NFL head coach to win Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks.

In 1981, the team's owner Jack Kent Cooke hired Joe Gibbs to be the new head coach. Gibbs led the Redskins to four Suber Bowl appearances and three victories. The team won Super Bowl XVII in 1982, lost Super Bowl XVIII in 1983, won Super Bowl XXII in 1987, and won Super Bowl XXVI in 1991.[9] Gibbs is considered to be among the greatest coaches in the history of professional football, and is the only coach to win Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. The 1982 Super Bowl was won with Joe Theismann, the 1987 Super Bowl was won with Doug Williams--who became the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl--and the 1991 Super Bowl was won with Mark Rypien as quarterback. The success of the Redskins in the 1980s and early 1990s vaulted the team to become one of the most important and widely supported sports franchises in the country. In the D.C. area, the Redskins were perhaps the most important cultural entity, as stores would close and people would return to their homes or go to bars to watch Redskins games. The team's valuation increased to being the second highest valued sports team in the world by the time Daniel Snyder purchased the team in 1999.

In 1997, the team moved to a new stadium in Landover, Maryland, an eastern suburb of Washington.[10] This marked the first time the team played its home games outside the District of Columbia since moving there in 1937. From 1961 through 1997, the team had played their home games at RFK Stadium, which had become among the country's most iconic sports and football venues.

In the years since Gibbs' retirement in 1993, the team's move to FedExField in Landover, and Snyder's purchase of the team, the glory years have faded and the team's success has dried up. Although Gibbs returned to coach the team from 2004 to 2007, the success of his earlier stint as head coach was not re-lived.

In 2020, following decades of controversy regarding the team's Native American name, and recent decisions by several of the team's largest sponsors to stop financing the team until they changed their name, the organization announced that they were dropping the name Redskins, and would pick up the temporary name Washington Football Team until a new name could be determined. After a two-year process, the team announced in 2022 that their permanent name moving forward would be the Washington Commanders.

In 2023, Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya Snyder announced that they had sold the franchise to a group of business partners. This sale occurred in the aftermath of over two decades of controversy, a diminishing brand, and a shrinking fanbase under the ownership of Snyder. Among the controversies included the team's former name, the poor and deteriorating stadium in Maryland, extremely weak on-the-field results, and multiple sexual harassment allegations as well as accusations and investigations of illegal financial mismanagement by Snyder. Both the NFL and the United States Congress were investigating the team's financial mismanagement. The team was purchased by a group of investors led by Washington-area native, Josh Harris. NBA legend Magic Johnson is a part of this new ownership group.

The DC Defenders of the XFL began play at Audi Field in February 2020.

The headquarters of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), which is the players union of the NFL, is located in the Upshaw Place building on 20th street in Northwest Washington.


Washington Senators manager Bucky Harris presents President Calvin Coolidge with the ball used to open the 1924 World Series.

Washington's first professional baseball team was the Washington Olympics who played in 1871 and 1872. Several more teams played in the 19th century including the first incarnation of the Washington Senators (1891–99). A different Washington Senators team began play in 1901. The Senators played most of their home games at Griffith Stadium and won the 1924 World Series and three American League pennants.

The ceremonial first pitch got its start in D.C. in 1910 when President William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch at the Senators' Opening Day game. Every president since Taft has thrown out the first pitch in at least one important game, usually in Washington, D.C. (when D.C. has had a Major League team).

Nationals Park is the current home of the Washington Nationals.

Several Negro league baseball teams played in Washington including the Black Senators and the Elite Giants. The longest lasting was the Homestead Grays. Though officially being based outside Pittsburgh, the Grays played a number of home games at their "home away from home", Griffith Stadium in Washington. The Grays won the Negro League World Series in 1943, 1944, and 1948.

The Senators moved away in 1960 and became the Minnesota Twins. This team was replaced next season by a new Senators team which played Griffith Stadium in 1961 and then at D.C. Stadium (later, RFK Stadium) in 1962 until 1971 when it was relocated and became the Texas Rangers.

Washington was then without a professional baseball team for over three decades until Major League Baseball relocated the Montreal Expos to the city for the 2005 season. In the interim, the Baltimore Orioles served as Washington's home team. Orioles ownership marketed the team heavily to Washington baseball fans, even removing "Baltimore" from the team's uniform (however, since the return of baseball to the D.C. area, Baltimore is now on the uniform). The Orioles' reliance on the Washington market became a hindrance to Washington's efforts to gain their own baseball team as Orioles ownership lobbied Major League Baseball to keep a professional team out of Washington. Eventually, baseball's owners, burdened with a poorly performing Montreal franchise, were convinced to move the team to Washington with the promise of a brand new stadium fully financed by the D.C. government. Orioles' owner Peter Angelos cast the lone dissenting vote in the 28–1 decision. After spending their first three seasons at RFK Stadium, the Nationals began playing at Nationals Park in 2008. The Nationals would eventually win their first-ever World Series pennant in 2019, beating the Houston Astros.


The NBA's Washington Wizards play at Capital One Arena.

Washington's first professional basketball team was the Washington Capitols who played in the inaugural season of the Basketball Association of America (precursor to the National Basketball Association) at Uline Arena. That first year, the Capitols had a .817 winning percentage including a 17-game winning streak. The team began the 1948–49 season with a 15-game winning streak.[11] The Capitols folded on January 9, 1951.

An ABA team, the Washington Caps, played one season at Uline Arena (then known as Washington Coliseum) in 1969–70 and finished with a 44–40 record. The following year the team moved south and became the Virginia Squires.

On December 2, 1973, the NBA's Baltimore Bullets played their first home game at the newly built Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland and became the Washington Bullets. Despite the name change, the team continued to play many of their home games in Baltimore at the Baltimore Civic Center. The Bullets went to the NBA Finals in 1975 where they were swept in four games by the Golden State Warriors.

The Bullets' next appearance in the NBA Finals happened in 1978 when they beat the heavily favored Seattle SuperSonics in seven games. To date, this is the franchise's only league title. The two teams met again in the 1979 NBA Finals, with the Sonics winning 4 games to 1.

In 1995, team owner Abe Pollin announced the Bullets would change their name out of sensitivity to the high rate of gun violence in Washington, D.C. Following a fan vote, the team became known as the Washington Wizards on May 15, 1997. Later that year, the Wizards moved into D.C. to play in the newly constructed MCI Center, now known as Capital One Arena. This new arena was constructed by Pollin. The Wizards have recently turned around a culture of losing, winning their first playoff series in 23 years in 2005 and making the playoffs the next four years under the leadership of star point guard, Gilbert Arenas.

The new MCI Center soon became the home court for an expansion Women's National Basketball Association team, the Washington Mystics. Despite having only two winning seasons and a mere four playoff wins, the Mystics excelled in another way by leading the league in attendance from 1998 through 2000 and 2002 through 2004. The team hung six banners in the Verizon Center touting themselves as "Attendance Champions". These banners were frequently criticized and in 2010 the new owner of the team and arena, Ted Leonsis, ordered them removed.[12]

Following the departure of star players like Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler, the Wizards finished with the 5th worst record in the 2009-10 NBA season. The team subsequently won the 2010 Draft Lottery and selected Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first pick, whom new owner Ted Leonsis and team president Ernie Grunfeld would build the team around in the years to come.

The 2018–19 season marked the debut of the Capital City Go-Go, a team owned by the Wizards that plays in the NBA's official minor league, the NBA G League. The Go-Go play at St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA), a venue in the Congress Heights neighborhood of southeast Washington that opened in 2018. This arena also serves as the Wizards' practice facility, and in 2019 also became the full-time home of the Mystics. The Mystics' first season in the ESA saw the team claim its first WNBA title, with Elena Delle Donne being named season MVP on the strength of the first 50–40–90 season in league history and Emma Meesseman earning Finals MVP honors.

Ice hockey[edit]

From 1939 through 1942, the Washington Eagles were a minor league hockey team playing in the Eastern Hockey League, which was a minor league made up of teams focused mostly on the eastern United States. They won the league championship in 1940-41. The next season, the team competed for fans with the newly established Washington Lions of the American Hockey League, which was another minor league. Ultimately, the Lions succeeded in getting a larger fanbase than the Eagles, leading the Eagles to stop operations in 1942. The Lions played initially in Washington from 1941 to 1943 and then again from 1947 to 1949. They played their homes games at Uline Ice Arena in Northeast D.C. In 1949, the team moved to Cincinnati and became the Cincinnati Mohawks. The team returned to Washington in 1951, again with the name Washington Lions. This time, however, the team was a part of the Eastern Hockey League. In an effort to rebrand and increase its fanbase, the team changed its name in 1957 to the Washington Presidents. Despite its attempt to rebrand, the team was financially unstable and ended up folding in 1960.

Following many years without professional ice hockey in Washington, businessman and sports team owner Abe Pollin decided to purchase an expansion team in the National Hockey League (NHL) for Washington, D.C. The new hockey team for Washington was created as part of the NHL's 1974 expansion. Pollin offered fans the opportunity to send in suggestions for the team's new name. Ultimately, he chose to call the new hockey team the Washington Capitals, often shortened to Caps.

Their first season, the Capitals only won eight games, which earned them an NHL-record low .131 winning percentage. The team found greater success through the 1980s and 1990s. From the 1982-83 season through the 1995-96 season, the Caps made the playoffs every year and won the division in 1988-89.

After spending their first 23 seasons playing in the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, the Caps moved into D.C. to play in the newly constructed MCI Center (now known as Capital One Arena) located in Chinatown in 1997. A competitive high point for the team came in their first season in the new arena, when they defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Finals, earning a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they were swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings. In 1999, the team was purchased by local businessman Ted Leonsis.

The NHL's Washington Capitals play their homes games at Capital One Arena.

For many years after the Cup Finals appearance, the team struggled mightily on the ice. In 2004, the Capitals drafted Russian winger Alexander Ovechkin with the first overall draft pick. The team made the playoffs in 2007-08, which was the beginning of a long stretch during which the team was consistently among the best in the league. Despite the many regular season successes during this time, including seven division titles and three Presidents' Trophy wins between 2007 and 2017, the team struggled to achieve playoff success, and failed to make it past the second round.

This playoff disappointment ended when Evgeny Kuznetsov lifted the Capitals over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime of Game 6 in the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 20 years. Led by their captain Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals went on to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games to claim the title as 2017–18 Eastern Conference champions, the second title in franchise history. On June 7, 2018, the Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in five games to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Among the most important members of this team were Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, goalie Braden Holtby, defensman John Carlson, and center Nicklas Backstrom. The team was coached by Barry Trotz.

In addition to their Stanley Cup championship and two Eastern Conference championships, the Capitals have won three Presidents' Trophies for having the best regular season record and have claimed 13 division titles. The team won four straight division championships as members of the Southeast Division between the 2007 and 2010 seasons, and five straight in the current Metropolitan Division, since 2015. Four Capitals players have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Mike Gartner, Rod Langway, Larry Murphy, and Scott Stevens. Ovechkin is widely considered to be among the greatest NHL players in history and is currently chasing Wayne Gretzky's record for most career NHL goals.


In 2018, it was announced that Paul Sheehy, owner and director of used operations for Sheehy Auto Stores, and Chris Dunlavey, president and co-founder of Brailsford & Dunlavey, have secured the right to launch a D.C.-based Major League Rugby team,[13] named Old Glory DC. The Scottish Rugby Union has a part ownership of the team. The team is coached by Nate Osborne in an interim capacity after former head coach Andrew Douglas departed the club halfway through the 2022 season. Old Glory played an abbreviated schedule of exhibition games in 2019 and began regular-season MLR play in 2020.

Former teams[edit]

Washington's team in the North American Soccer League, the Washington Diplomats, played at RFK from 1974 to 1981, with a record attendance of 53,351 in a match against the N.Y. Cosmos in 1980.[14] Washington also had the Washington Whips, Washington Darts, and Team America in the NASL.

The Washington Freedom Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) team moved to Boca Raton, Florida in 2011. The team began as the Freedom in the now-defunct Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA). The Freedom played at RFK for the three years of the league's existence and won the league championship in 2003, the WUSA's final year. Following the WUSA's demise, the team continued as an associate member of the W-League playing their home games at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.

Collegiate sports[edit]

The following schools are located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area:

School Nickname Conference Division
American University Eagles Patriot League NCAA Division I
The George Washington University Colonials Atlantic 10 NCAA Division I
Georgetown University Hoyas Big East
Patriot League (football)
NCAA Division I
George Mason University
(Fairfax, Virginia)
Patriots Atlantic 10 NCAA Division I
Howard University Bison MEAC NCAA Division I
University of Maryland
(College Park, Maryland)
Terrapins Big Ten NCAA Division I
Mount St. Mary's University
(Emmitsburg, Maryland)
Mountaineers Northeast NCAA Division I
Bowie State University
(Bowie, Maryland)
Bulldogs CIAA NCAA Division II
University of the District of Columbia Firebirds Independent
ECC (tennis)
NCAA Division II
Shepherd University
(Shepherdstown, West Virginia)
Rams PSAC NCAA Division II
The Catholic University of America Cardinals Landmark
NEWMAC (football)
NCAA Division III
Gallaudet University Bison NEAC
ECFC (football)
NCAA Division III
Hood College
(Frederick, Maryland)
Blazers MAC Commonwealth[a] NCAA Division III
University of Mary Washington
(Fredericksburg, Virginia)
Eagles CAC NCAA Division III
Marymount University
(Arlington, Virginia)
Saints Atlantic East NCAA Division III
Trinity Washington University Tigers Independent NCAA Division III
  1. ^ The Middle Atlantic Conferences is an umbrella organization that operates three separate leagues. All MAC schools are members of either the MAC Commonwealth or MAC Freedom, leagues that sponsor competition in the same set of 14 sports, including men's and women's basketball, but not football. The MAC sponsors 13 additional sports, including football, through its Middle Atlantic Conference (singular).

On December 20, 2008, Washington hosted its first college bowl game, the EagleBank Bowl, at RFK Stadium. The first match-up saw Wake Forest defeat Navy, 29–19.[15] After the sponsorship deal between the bowl organizers and EagleBank expired following the 2009 edition, the game was renamed the Military Bowl, thanks to a new sponsorship deal with a major defense contractor. The game left the Washington metropolitan area after its 2012 edition; it has since been played at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, which lies within the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Georgetown basketball[edit]

Georgetown University began fielding a basketball team in 1907. The Georgetown Hoyas have won eight Big East tournament championships and ten Big East regular season championships. They have appeared the NCAA Final Four five times, winning the national championship in 1984. Several NBA players got their start playing for Georgetown including Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, and Reggie Williams. The Hoyas play their home games at Capital One Arena.

Other sports[edit]

Flag football[edit]

Washington, D.C. is home to 22 teams flag football teams that play under the DC Gay Flag Football League which is part of the National Gay Flag Football League. In 1994, the DC League formed as an organized unit.[16] The DCGFFL won the Gay Bowl in 2003 and 2004.[17] In September 2010, DCGFFL premiered in its first season as an official league as part of the NGFFL.[18] Washington, D.C. hosted the Gay Bowl in 2016 on the National Mall.[19][17]


Fairfax, Virginia in the Washington suburbs was home to the Washington Bayhawks[20] of Major League Lacrosse.[21] The Bayhawks moved to George Mason Stadium, after playing one season at Georgetown University and six seasons in Baltimore. The Bayhawks are one of Major League Lacrosse's original six teams, created in 2001 the same year the league started. The Bayhawks have twice won championships in the MLL in 2002 and 2005. The Bayhawks began playing their home games at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, which is in the federally defined Baltimore Metropolitan Area, for the 2009 season and changed their name to the Chesapeake Bayhawks in 2010. The Washington Power were a member of the National Lacrosse League during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. After the inaugural championship in 1987 in Baltimore (as the Thunder) through 1999 and an unsuccessful stint in Pittsburgh (as the CrosseFire), the franchise moved to Washington, D.C. in 2001. After two seasons of low attendance in Washington, the franchise moved, this time to Denver, Colorado, as the Colorado Mammoth. In Colorado they have seen success both on and off the field, culminating in 2006, when they had the highest attendance in the league, and also won the Champion's Cup.

Rugby union[edit]

The Washington, D.C. area is home to numerous rugby union teams, including men's, women's, college and high school. Prominent club teams include the Potomac Athletic Club, Washington Rugby Football Club, Washington Irish R.F.C.,and the Maryland Exiles. These two clubs merged in 2014 as the Potomac Exiles Rugby Club The Maryland Terrapins rugby team plays in the Atlantic Coast Rugby League against its traditional ACC rivals. At the high school level, Gonzaga fields one of the strongest programs in the country, and Pride rugby (formerly Hyde rugby) gained national attention as the first rugby program at a predominantly African-American school.

The Washington-based Old Glory DC joined the top level of U.S. men's rugby, Major League Rugby, in 2020.

Rugby league[edit]

The Washington, D.C. Slayers rugby league team who play in the USARL play their home games at Duke Ellington Field, 38th St NW and R St NW. The other rugby league team in the Washington, D.C. area, the Northern Virginia Eagles, play in Fairfax County, Virginia.


Washington is home to two annual marathon races: the Marine Corps Marathon which is held every autumn and the Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon held in the spring. The Marine Corps Marathon begun in 1976 is sometimes called "The People's Marathon" because it is the largest marathon without prize money.[22] The Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run is another annual race that began in 1973 and is conducted as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Army Ten-Miler, started in 1985, is the country's largest ten-mile race with over 26,000 participants; it is held each October and its course runs through Washington, D.C. and finishes at the Pentagon.[23]


Washington Open's center court.

In late July and early August, Washington hosts an annual joint ATP Tour men's tennis and WTA Tour women's tennis event: the Washington Open at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park. The tournament has been held at the same venue since its founding in 1969. It is an ATP 500 and WTA 500 event, and serves as a popular tune-up tournament prior to the US Open. It is the first tennis tournament in history to be both an ATP 500 and WTA 500 event, and is one of the few tournaments in the world to host both men and women. It is played on outdoor hard courts and is owned by Washington-area businessman Mark Ein. The tournament's sponsorship name is the Mubadala Citi DC Open.

In July 2008, the Washington Kastles, a World TeamTennis team, played their first season in a temporary stadium in downtown Washington, D.C. finishing with a 6–8 record. In 2009, despite losing their first four matches, the Kastles won the WTT championship.[24] The Kastles were 8–6 and just missed the playoffs in 2010. In 2011, the Kastles moved to Kastles Stadium at the Wharf at 800 Water Street, SW in Washington right off Maine Avenue. The Kastles played the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons there. In 2011, the Kastles posted a perfect season of 16–0 and won the WTT Championship. The 2011 season was the 36th for World Team Tennis, and the Kastles became the first team to accomplish the feat of a perfect season. They posted a second perfect season of 16–0 in 2012, and won another WTT Championship, becoming the only professional sports team to have back-to-back undefeated seasons. In 2013, the Kastles won their first match of the season to post a record of 33 straight wins, equaling the 33 games winning streak of the 1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. The Kastles won the second match of the season to set a new record of 34 straight wins by a top-tier professional sports team. Even though the Kastles lost the third and fourth matches of the 2013 season, they went undefeated for the remainder of the season to finish with a 14–2 record and won their third consecutive WTT Championship. In 2014, the Kastles moved to Kastles Stadium at the Charles E. Smith Center on the campus of George Washington University and won their fourth consecutive WTT Championship with an overall record of 12–4.[25] In the first seven years of the franchise, the Kastles have won five WTT titles.


New York City[edit]

The rivalries between the sports teams in New York City and Washington, D.C. have been among the best and most historic in the country. Each city's importance in America's media landscape has helped increase the notoriety of these rivalries, as has the fact that many teams in each city play in the same division.

The rivalry with the longest history between teams in each city is the rivalry between the New York Giants and the Washington Commanders in the National Football League (NFL). Both teams play in the Eastern division of the National Football Conference (known as the NFC East). The two teams therefore play against each other twice every regular season. Both teams are among the oldest and most successful in professional football, with the rivalry dating back to 1932. This matchup has included some of the game's greatest players and coaches throughout the decades.

In the National Hockey League (NHL), strong rivalries exists between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers, as well as the Capitals and the New York Islanders. All three compete in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. Both the Capitals-Rangers rivalry and Capitals-Islanders rivalry have increased in intensity over the decades as a result of highly competitive playoff matchups, in addition to regular season encounters. Though not as historic and intense as the ones with the two New York-based teams, the New Jersey Devils also play in the Metropolitan Division and are therefore a division rival for the Capitals.

There is also a rivalry between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United of Major League Soccer (MLS). The teams are among the oldest and most historic teams in the league. This rivalry dates back to 1996, the league's inaugural season. Both teams play in the Eastern Conference and have competed against each other in critical playoff matches over the years. Their rivalry is known as the Atlantic Cup, which is also the name of the trophy awarded to the team that wins the matchup.

The Washington Nationals and New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB) also share a rivalry. Though this rivalry has not existed for as long as the others between teams based in New York and Washington, the two compete in the National League East division. This has helped a rivalry develop between the two teams in the years since the Nationals moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005.


The rivalry between teams in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. has been aided by the fact that the two cities have teams in the same division in the NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS.

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Commanders of the NFL have a long and historic rivalry, having (almost always) competed in the same division since 1933. Currently, both teams play in the NFC East and therefore play each other twice every regular season.

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals of the NHL both played in the Patrick Division during the 1980s and early 1990s, during which time the rivalry was extremely intense. Since 2013, both play in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. The Capitals-Flyers rivalry has been intense both during the regular season as well as during the playoffs. The teams have met five times in the NHL playoffs. This rivalry dates back to 1974, when the Capitals joined the league.

Since the Nationals moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005, they have had a rivalry with the Philadelphia Phillies, as both compete in the NL East of the MLB. The Philadelphia Union of the MLS have developed an intraconference rivalry with D.C. United.[26] The Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers both play in the NBA's Eastern Conference, and the two teams met in the NBA playoffs five times, most recently in 2021. They also met in 1971, when the current Washington franchise was based in Baltimore.


The Orioles and Nationals playing against each other in 2020.

Due to the two cities' proximity to one another, historic and contemporary rivalries have existed between teams from both cities.

From 1972 to 2004, Washington did not have a baseball team; as a result, many baseball fans in the Washington area supported the nearby Baltimore Orioles, making them the de facto baseball team for Washington. When Washington was looking for a team, the ownership of the Orioles disapproved of the effort for fear that they would lose the Washington market to the new team. They were the only team to vote against moving the Montreal Expos to Washington. Therefore, when the Nationals began play in 2005, a natural rivalry was born between the new Washington team and the team that had historic support in the Washington region. This rivalry is known as the Beltway Series, or Battle of the Beltways, due to each city's proximity to the Capital Beltway, a major ring road that circles around Washington and its immediate suburbs. Given that the two teams play in different leagues (the Nationals play in the National League and the Orioles play in the American League), it is a rare interleague rivalry.

The Commanders and Baltimore Ravens of the NFL have a slight rivalry. Though because the two teams play in different conferences (the Commanders play in the National Football Conference (NFC) and the Ravens play in the American Football Conference (AFC)), they rarely play against each other in the regular season. However, there generally is a matchup between these two teams every preseason.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NFL Attendance – 2018". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "NBA Attendance Report – 2019". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "MLB Attendance Report – 2018". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "NHL Attendance Report – 2018–19". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  5. ^ "2019 MLS Attendance". Soccer Stadium Digest. October 6, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "2021 NWSL Attendance". Soccer Stadium Digest. February 23, 2021. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  7. ^ "United have RFK all to themselves". 2007-09-25.
  8. ^ Attendance Records, Largest Crowds in the United States, "Attendance Records - U.S. Soccer". Archived from the original on 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2013-01-20.
  9. ^ History by Decades Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine. Washington Redskins.
  10. ^ of the NFL
  11. ^ "Regular Season Records: Miscellaneous". NBA. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  12. ^ "With Leonsis' OK, Mystics attendance banners removed". USA Today. May 7, 2010.
  13. ^ "Two local business leaders may field professional D.C. rugby team". Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  14. ^ Washington Post, U.S. vs. Brazil friendly at FedExField ranks third in attendance in Washington area, May 31, 2012,
  15. ^ Feinstein, John (December 22, 2008). "A D.C. Bowl Worthy of Its Players". Washington Post. p. A21.
  16. ^ Lanyi, Bettina (2013-09-19). "D.C. gay flag football league builds community, camaraderie". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  17. ^ a b Zeigler, Cyd (2016-09-16). "DC Gay Flag Football League produces 2017 calendar". Outsports. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  18. ^ DiMargo, Carissa (2011-08-10). "DC Gay Flag Footballers Debut Calendar". NBC4 Washington. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  19. ^ "Flag football league brings annual 'Gay Bowl' to Boston area". Boston Herald. 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  20. ^ Home Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Home
  22. ^ "MCM Story", Marine Corps Marathon.
  23. ^ "Army Ten-Miler Complete 10 Miler Race History"
  24. ^ "Paes leads Washington to 1st WTT championship". AP. July 26, 2009.
  25. ^ "Washington Kastles Four-Peat as Mylan WTT Champions". World TeamTennis. July 27, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  26. ^ Goff, Steven (April 10, 2010). "D.C. United fosters a rivalry with expansion Philadelphia Union". The Washington Post. p. D2.

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