Throughout our lives, athletics or any physical activity plays an important part.
But the problem with the modern lifestyle is that we take sports seriously during the early childhood until the later years of our lives when we find it as a hobby, a boring exercise activity, or like a career to earn money.
Contrary to local physical recreational games played (like Mexican Basque Pelota, or Indian Kabaddi), there are some favored sports around the world that people love to play.
To describe popularity, we need several parameters. It covers the courts and stadium crowd, broadcast and online fanbase, follow-up social media, etc.
We can define popularity based on the number of funds available and the number of available endorsement deals.
Here are the top 10 most popular sports in the world:
Fans: 450 million
Love for the sport: the United States, European Countries, Japan & South Korea.
Golf is all about the accuracy of handling the club and ball.
In golf, to win, competitors have to hit balls in the highest number of holes by using many types of clubs in the least attempts.
Golf may not be most played sport in the world but has a wide and a following that flows among the elites of our society like businessmen or celebrities, that’s why this sport (like cricket) is well known as the “Gentleman’s game.”
It’s also a very calming game that is entertaining.
And it’s no surprise that in developed countries such as Japan, the United States, the UK, South Africa, and South Korea, golf has the largest viewership statistics.
Although golf ranks in the last position in our top 10 sports in the world list, it has the most income and the biggest prize money for the players.
Anyone with skills like that of tiger woods can become the richest sportsman in the world.
Global Fan Base: In contrast to young people, golf is one sport that is more attractive to adult people.
The international game has over 450 million followers, particularly in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Golf does not fit well for the general public because of its accessibility.
9. Rugby/American football
Estimated number of Fans: 475 million
Primary love for the sport: USA, UK, Commonwealth
Rugby is a physically demanding sport with two teams of 15 players each, attracting a large audience demanding a good dose of an adrenaline rush.
Enthusiasts usually play this game in European countries and in areas where the British Empire took over.
Players can play American Football, a variation of rugby by two teams of eleven players on the rectangular pitch, which is known as football in the United States, and gridiron, in other nations.
One team attempts to charge with the oval ball in hands or pass it to another player to run towards the goal post by tackle or takedown.
While the opponent team players will try to stop the charging player, at least 10 yards in four downs.
Global Fan Base: Worldwide enthusiasts play it as rugby, but majorly, it centers the fan base of American football predominantly in the US.
Football is the most popular sport in America, but in other parts of the world, this game has low popularity. The NFL in the USA is the most popular American soccer league.
Estimated No. of Fans: 500 million
Primary Sphere of Influence: United States and Japan
Baseball is another sport dominated by the United States, with five hundred million followers by participation.
Back in 1876, the first sports league was established, and the game even today continues to grow.
Indeed, on the street level, enthusiasts around countries such as the United States and Japan love baseball.
Citizens in those areas love this sport, and many opt for a baseball career since childhood.
The Nippon League and the MLB are Japan’s and the United States’ main leagues.
Global Fan Base: US, Canada, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.
Estimated No. of Fans: 825 million
Primary Sphere of Influence: Global
Basketball is one of the world-famous and the highest paid sport with average salary around $7.5 million per year. We can again regard the United States as the birthplace of basketball.
Basketball is an exciting and skillful sport because you develop skills through regular practice and exercise in your backyard driveway or open space.
We can play indoor basketballs on flat and smooth surfaces while outdoor surfaces have a rugged finish to stand up against rougher conditions.
Dr. James Naismith from Massachusetts started playing and developed modern basketball in the late 19th century.
Today, we have established basketball into one of the world’s most famous and highly paid sports.
Michael Jordan could be a first-class example of professional performers who made his name globally synonymous with basketball.
Global Fan Base: There are around 825 million basketball fans. The popularity among the fans is primarily among the US, Canada, Philippines, Japan, China, etc.
6. Table Tennis
Fans: 875 million
Regions where the game is played: Global
Table tennis, also known as ping pong, is an indoor sport that began in England, and in which two to four players hit a lightweight plastic ball back and forth with a wooden or plastic racket.
Nearly all sports clubs in all countries in the world play this game on an amateur level.
Table Tennis is not a sport with many talent display platforms, but as a hobby, we enjoy this indoor competition all over the world, and no other sport can compare with it in terms of sheer excitement.
Besides, professional table tennis is limited to countries such as Indonesia, China, India, and Malaysia.
Global Fan Base: Table tennis enthusiasts are spread across the globe.
The community of over 875 million fans all over the world is large, with millions of hobbyists, amateur players, and professional table tennis players.
No. of Fans: 900 million
Fanbase regions: Western Europe, North America.
Our favorite beach game with friends is here. Another US origin game of the late 19th century is yet very simple, but an exciting game and places specific needs on the player’s physical strength and engagement.
Approximately 900 million people worldwide regularly play volleyball. Enthusiasts typically play this sport both in the indoor stadium or outdoor field.
It is the fifth most popular sport with the many registered affiliates federations.
Volleyball, with few and strict rules, is an incredibly easy & enjoyable game.
It’s all a ball and a net you like. Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games launched volleyball in the Olympic Games in 1964, and its transition on the beach was a significant kick-off for its sped up popularity growth worldwide.
No. of Fans: 1 billion
Demography of fans: Global
Lawn tennis matches attract the crowd with spiking popularity when the tournaments begin, which also makes it the first entry to our top 10 sports list that hits a billion in the number of followers.
The doubles variant of the sport (2 players vs 2 players) is also very famous worldwide.
The game is played in all Asian, African, Oceania, Hispanic and North American nations.
Some top tournaments include the Australian Open, the French Open, the Wimbledon Championships, and the USA were the four Grand Slam tournaments.
The game is developing at a quick rate in Asia, and it won’t be surprised to see that tennis ranking higher in the future.
Fan base: Tennis has a large worldwide fan base. Although in developed countries it is more widespread than in developing countries.
Tennis superstars, such as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, are well-known worldwide, attracting hundreds of millions of fans around the globe towards the sport.
3. Field hockey
Estimated No. of Fans: 2 billion
Influence: Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia
It has been around since the 3rd century BC, and the performers have transformed playing rules styles overtime accordingly.
Field hockey attracts fans from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
For many young people, this growing sport has become a mainstream obsession.
We can play it on several types of surfaces, including dirt, grass, and floor, which provide a variety of game styles.
The specifications for field hockey depend on the level of play, but the equipment used is the same.
A very popular sport in the commonwealth, it has similar gameplay and rules as that of football.
But the only difference is that the ball is much smaller, guided by an unusually J shaped bat rather than the player’s feet.
If we include other variations like ice hockey or Floorball, overall hockey could be the most popular sport in the world.
Estimated No. of Fans: 2.5 billion
Sphere of Influence: the UK, Commonwealth countries like India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, etc.
Ranking second between the top two was a difficult task, as the sheer fan following between these two competitive games is very high.
The game has a fan-base that records 2.5 billion people worldwide. But also, there are many countries in which people do not know what cricket is.
The Indian subcontinent, South Africa, Oceania, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom are the countries where cricket is the most played, both on-street and professional levels.
India Pakistan’s long-time rivalry is not just limited to sport and is one of the world’s most-watched competitions worldwide, followed by the FIFA World Cup Final and the Spanish el-Clasico.
Cricket is like a life-and-death issue for the fans and the players in the areas in which they play it.
The four-year Cricket World Cup is known to be a highly watched and expensive global event each year, and the best team on all occasions is Australia, England, and India.
While some global superstars who are also the richest cricketers in the world rank in this sports rank among top global athletes.
Global Fan Base: Cricket’s fan base is limited to certain nations. This sport is not that popular in the US, most of Europe and most of Asia.
Yet, people from some major nations play this game with the utmost joy. Cricket has the world’s second-largest number of fans, with about 2 to 3 billion people.
In India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa, and in Australia, cricket is the most-watched sport (sometimes only watched sport).
Around 2.5 million people worldwide viewed their TVs in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Estimated No. of Fans: 4 billion
Sphere of Influence: Global
Okay, the most famous and most-watched sport in the world, association football or soccer, shouldn’t be a shock.
Many historians say it started in China, whereas others suggest that the Greeks and the Romans invented the game.
However, to the modern interpretation of the play, we can trace it back to England, which is the sport of today.
The number of followers has been so high that every second person in the world is a fan of football, mainly because it only needs a ball and a decent ground.
Global Fan Base: The number of people who actively follow the sport who track their global and regional tournaments is unimaginable.
If we consider overall statistics, Soccer is the biggest sport in the world.
Football is undoubtedly the king when it comes to TV viewing. Top football players like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are global star icons, and there is no denying considering their global popularity (both rank as most followed Instagrammers).
If there is any local or international rivalry, billions of soccer fans around the world are doodling on their TVs to give you an idea of the popularity of the sport.
The same applies to the world’s biggest club competitions and champion leagues.
There are around 8000 officially recognized sports around the globe and uncountable unofficial ones.
So which sport is the best?
All sports are best as long as you are having physical exercise while you enjoy it.
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