Sports is one of the biggest industries in the world and is hugely popular in each and every country. It is one of the older forms of entertainment, and there is not a single country on the planet which does not enjoy sports. Below is a breakdown of the most popular sports on the planet.
Football is the most popular sport in the world. There are approximately four billion fans of the game. That is more than half the population of the world. The sport originated in England way back in the 19th century, although there is a school of thought that it was invented in China and administrated in England. The sport has always been hugely popular, but the introduction of the Premier League in the early 1990s saw a massive boom. It is estimated that as many as 643 million households in 212 territories watched the top flight of English football in the 2018-19 season. The FIFA World Cup help every four years is the pinnacle of the sport. As many as 517 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2018 World Cup final in 2018, while 562 million people watched the final back in 2014.
Cricket is not played in a lot of countries, but in the 12 major nations where the sport is played, it is massive. India has the most fans of the game, with the country’s 1.3 billion population absolutely mad about the game. The Indian Premier League is the most lucrative league in the sport and ranks fifth in the world for attendance. The origin of cricket is in England, and during the colonial era, the sport was made hugely popular in the Indian sub-continent. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India all are great at the game, and so are Australia, West Indies and England. It is estimated that there are 2.5 billion fans of cricket worldwide.
3. Hockey (Ice and Field)
Hockey is the third most popular sport and two versions of the game – on ice and on field – has 2 billion fans worldwide. Ice hockey is most popular in the US, Canada and Northern Ireland, while field hockey has millions of followers in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. What is interesting about hockey is that both the men’s and the women’s game are popular.
Just like hockey, tennis has a huge following, both for the men’s game and the women’s game. There are an estimated 1 billion fans, with Grand Slams very popular. Roger Federer has 8 million followers on Instagram, while Serena Wiliams has 12.7 million. It shows the influence of the sport and its major players. Tennis is a growing sport and is likely to garner more fans in the coming years.
Volleyball is estimated to have 900 million fans worldwide, although it is not played extensively or at a professional level in as many countries as football is. Volleyball is very popular in North America and Western Europe, as well as in Asia, Australia and South America. In Brazil and in Western Europe, beach volleyball is very popular where there are two members in each team instead of six in each side in the ‘regular’ version of the game.
6. Table tennis
Also known as ping pong, table tennis a very popular sport that is played for pleasure and at amateur level. It is similar to lawn tennis, but played on a small table. Especially popular in Asia, the sport has a following of an estimated 875 fans worldwide.
Invented by a Canadian teaching at a school in the USA, basketball is especially popular in North America and Western Europe, but the sport has gained popularity in other parts of the world over the years. There are an estimated 825 million fans, with NBA in the USA particularly attraction viewership from across the globe.
Baseball has a huge fan base in the USA and in certain Latin American countries such as the Cuba and the Dominic Republic. East Asia also a lot of a fans of the sport. There are about 500 million fans of baseball worldwide.
Claimed to have a following of 475 million people worldwide, the sport of rugby is hugely popular in Western European countries such as the UK, the Republic of Ireland and France. It is also popular in certain countries in Africa and in Australia.
Golf may not attract a lot of spectators at the courses, but it reaches to 450 million worldwide. Tiger Woods is one of the most recognisable faces on he planet and is a icon of the sport.
Given the cultural diversity of Asia and the sheer number of countries in Asia (48), a large number of sports are played. Cricket is the most popular sports in the continent mainly due to the Indian population, but football, table tennis and polo are popular as well. Badminton is another sport that is very popular in Asia, especially at amateur level.
- Table tennis
Africa is made about football, and the continent has given the world the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, George Weah and Roger Mills. Rugby is another well-played sport in the continent, and so is cycling and athletics. Cricket is also played in a number of countries, such as South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Football is by far the most popular sport in Europe, with the European Championship and the Champions League gaining worldwide fans. Rugby, tennis and Formula One are the other major sports in the continent, while basketball is very popular in Spain and eastern Europe and gymnastics in Russia.
American football (NFL) is massive in North America, especially in the USA, while baseball and basketball have huge following and generate a lot of revenue. Ice hockey is the most popular spectator sport in Canada. Lacrosse is also played widely in Canada. Tennis, golf, motosport and athletics are also enjoyed by millions living in the USA and other parts of North America.
- American Football (NFL)
- Ice Hockey
- Football (Soccer)
Football is played by pretty much every country in the continent of South America. Brazil and Argentina have had huge successes at the FIFA World Cup over the years. Beach volleyball is one of the favourite sports among Brazilians. Boxing is another well followed sport in the continent.
Australian rules football is the number one sport in Australia, while cricket and rugby have massive following in Oceania. Golf, tennis and basketball are fairly popular as well, with the latter attracting 1 million players in Australia. Rugby union is the main sport in New Zealand, who are good in cricket as well.
- Australian rules Football
Football is the most popular sport in the UK, hands down. The Premier League is the most watched domestic league in the world, and Sky Sports News and talkSPORT are 24-hour news and radio stations respectively in the country whose bulk is made up of football news and analysis. The women’s game in the UK is also on the rise, with the Women Soccer League increasingly becoming popular. Cricket and rugby have wide following as well, and so do tennis and Formula 1.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
American Football (NFL) is the most popular sports in the USA. During the 2019 regular season, a total of 16.67 million fans attended NFL games. The popularity of the game outside the USA is growing as well, with teams flying to London each year for a match. Baseball and basketball are the other two major sports in the USA, with Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, LeBron Hames, Michael Jordan and Kobe Brant well known across the planet. Ice hockey and tennis are followed passionately by Americans, while soccer (football) has become hugely popular over the past 10 or so years, thanks to the growing reputation of Major League Soccer.
- American Football (NFL)
- Ice Hockey
- Football (Soccer)