Sports are popular in every single country in the world, even on some of the smallest islands and in places that you didn’t know existed. Since sports form such a big part of our lives, it can be difficult to narrow them down, especially since sports are heavily influenced by the cultures in which they come from, and aren’t always easy for foreigners to understand.
However, we thought it would be fun to look at the top 10 most popular sports in the world, according to how many people watch and play them. Yes, there might be some more obscure sports that are popular in certain countries, but this article will cover just the most well known across both the southern and northern hemisphere.
The Top 10 Most Popular Sports in the World
It probably won’t come as a surprise to many but football is the most popular sport in the world, with an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide. That’s about half the population!
Football is so popular in fact that it influences so many aspects of people’s lives. This includes the way they dress to the friends they watch or play it with. For the very competitive, a choice of team might even cause some tension around the family dinner table.
In fact, some fans are so dedicated to their football team that their passion for winning can be compared to those who play slots online. For more information click here!
This quintessentially British sport managed to make its way to various parts of the world over the last two centuries, to the point where it is one of the world’s most popular sports, especially in countries like India.
With an estimated 2.5 billion fans, cricket is a close second to football. With a footprint that also spans the Caribbean, the fanbase for cricket is massive, with dedicated fans all over the world spending time watching both test cricket and shorter versions of the game.
Although it is mainly played in the States, basketball is hugely popular around the world, especially in countries like China. With about 2.2 billion fans, basketball is close behind cricket as one of the most loved games around the world.
The legacy of the NBA and players like Michael Jordan has definitely cemented the game’s popularity. The almost idol-like status of many of the players means that basketball has also spurned an entire industry of merchandise, mostly famously Nike’s Air Jordans.
4. Field Hockey
Not to be confused with ice hockey, field hockey is played across Europe and in parts of Africa, and is also one of the top contenders for the most popular sports in the world with 2 billion fans.
Although some of the players might not be as iconic as those in the NBA, this popular sport is played at schools around the world, and has for many years been an Olympic sport.
Another sport with very iconic players, tennis is a game that is enjoyed around the world, with several famous Grand Slam events taking place in countries like the USA, France and the UK.
If you haven’t heard the name Federer, Nadal or Djokovic, or don’t know anything about the Williams’ sisters, then you are surely in the minority, and not one of the sports 1 billion fans!
From the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to Olympic facilities, the game of volleyball is extremely popular around the world, with around 900 million fans.
What’s interesting to note is that this game was only invented towards the end of the 1800s, and took its inspiration from various different sports that existed at the time.
7. Table tennis
A game that many might be used to playing informally, table tennis is a hugely popular and competitive sport, with about 850 millions followers around the globe.
Based on the game of tennis itself, one of the advantages of this game is that it can be played in very small spaces, which makes it an easy game to become popular in many places!
Hitting a home run is probably familiar to most people, even if they don’t know all the rules to this popular game, which has around 500 million loyal fans. Although mostly played in the USA and a few other countries, the sport has a global reach thanks to its portrayal in popular culture and famous figures like Babe Ruth.
9. American football
Quite a bit different from world football, American football is a lot more technical, and requires players to wear a lot more protective equipment. Once again, this sport has been popularized through many movies and forms of social media, so even if you don’t understand the rules yourself, there are over 410 million fans in the US who do!
Last but not least on the list is golf, which has also been made famous by iconic players like Tiger Woods. An extremely historic sport, golf is now played all over the world, and is well appreciated by its 390 million fans, who no doubt love to hit a few balls on the course themselves.
Final thoughts on the top 10 most popular sports in the world
There you have it! This article gave just a brief insight into the top 10 most popular sports in the world right now. Whether you only follow one of the sports on this list, there is no doubt that you are a fan of at least one of them, and will be watching a game, match or tournament sometime soon.