- 1 Football / soccer – four billion fans
- 2 Cricket – 2.5 billion fans
- 3 Field Hockey – 2 billion fans
- 4 Tennis – one billion fans
- 5 Volleyball – 900 million fans
- 6 Table tennis – 850 million fans
- 7 Baseball – 500 million fans
- 8 Golf – 450 million fans
- 9 Basketball – 400 million fans
- 10 American Football – 400 million fans
Sport plays a very important role in our lives: why some people take the sport as their hobby, others make the sport as their career or a part of their personal fitness regimes. Some kinds of sports are more popular than others by attracting millions of fans from all over the world.
In this article, we introduce you to 10 most popular sports on the planet based on such factors as the number of TV viewers, the revenue the sport generates, the stability of the sports system, social media presence, advertisements, and etc.
Football / soccer – four billion fans
With approximately 4 billion fans around the globe, football is fairly considered the most popular, watched and played sport in the world. The main hub of football in Europe, where it is played at the most professional and competitive level.
The biggest and the most popular football competition is UEFA Champions League, the budget of which is around 1.5 billion dollars – the highest prize money among all modern kinds of sports. The top football players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonel Messi are among the richest football players and sportsmen in the world by earning hundreds of millions annually.
Cricket – 2.5 billion fans
It is not known exactly, where and when cricket came from, but it is believed that it was played in the 16th century in England by children mostly. By the beginning of 17th century, it had become more popular and started attracting an adult population as well.
At that time, cricket matches were organized and held between several neighborhoods and villages in Great Britain, but already in the 19th century, many cricket clubs appeared in many other countries and continents including South Africa, the Caribbean, New Zealand and North America.
Nowadays a number of fans around the globe are approximately 2.5 billion with the majority of them in India and Pakistan.
Field Hockey – 2 billion fans
Field hockey is quite an ancient kind of sport since it was played already centuries ago in such countries as England. Scotland, and the Netherlands. However, the modern type of field hockey is different from its original version and appeared in the 19th century among the public school system in England.
In 1908 this game was already inaugurated as one of the Olympic sports and started gaining its popularity throughout the world very fast.
Two countries that dominated this sport in the 20th centuries were India and Pakistan, however, by the end of the 20th century, it had become very popular in Australia and the Netherlands. Nowadays it is one of the most popular kinds of sport with more than 2 billion fans.
Tennis – one billion fans
The fourth popular sport in the world is tennis that has today approximately 1 billion fans. According to historical records, the first form of tennis appeared in France in the 12th century and was played primarily by the French and European aristocracy. The modern version of tennis was developed much later – the middle of 19th century in England, where in 1872 was also formed the first tennis club.
Nowadays tennis is played almost in all countries, and the four major annual tournaments are Wimbledon, the US Open, Australian Open, and French Open.
Tennis is definitely a unique kind of sport due to its idea of gender equality. While in many other popular kinds of sports women’s competitions are not very popular and do not attract much attention, in tennis the competitions of both genders are equally interesting to the public. Beautiful and talented Anna Kournikova is one of the most famous tennis player in the world.
Volleyball – 900 million fans
It might sound unbelievable, but the main reason for the high popularity of volleyball is its simplicity. In contrast to many other popular sports described above, volleyball is quite a recent kind of sport that was developed in 1895 by William G. Morgan, who was the YMCA physical education coach.
His intention was to create an indoor kind of sport that will be a bit similar to basketball but will not require so much physical prowess.
Thus, initially, volleyball became a kind of sport for people, who want to remain fit and active. Started in the United States, it later spread to Canada and at the beginning of 20th century started gaining popularity in Europe as well. Volleyball was included into the list of Olympic sports in 1964 by becoming more and more popular.
Though it is played and viewed all over the world now, it is especially popular in Eastern European countries and Europe. Nowadays this kind of sport has more than 900 million fans.
Table tennis – 850 million fans
Originally table tennis appeared as a popular game among the English aristocracy in the 19th century that was more like an after dinner activity that a real kind of sport. By the end of the 19th century, it had become so popular that was already played by upper classes in all British colonies.
Its original name was Whiff-Whaff, but since it did not sound very seriously it was changed later to Ping-Pong or Table Tennis.
The International Federation of Table Tennis was established in 1926, and the same year the first world championship was held in London. By the 1930s this sport had become even more popular, especially in Asia and China. The Chinese became so passionate about table tennis that very fast they become dominant in it.
Nowadays the number of fans of this sport is more than 850 million, and the majority of them are either from China or from other countries of South East Asia.
Baseball – 500 million fans
Baseball is a typically American kind of sport that is very popular today in North America and has more than 500 million fans. The history says that baseball was brought to the United States by European immigrants as the variation of the game of rounders played in England.
Today is the national sport in the United States, as well as in Venezuela and some other South American countries. It a very special sport for the US and there is almost no American who does not watch it. Therefore, it is not surprising than many American citizens want to pursue a career in baseball since early childhood. The Superbowl is the most famous annual championship game of the NFL.
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Golf – 450 million fans
It is still unknown, where and how gold was developed, but some historical records say that the prototype of golf is an ancient game of Paganica played by the Romans, in which players used a bent stick for hitting a leather ball.
The modern version of gold appeared much later – in the 14th century in Scotland. It became so popular there that King James had to ban it because it distracted Scottish people from practicing the more important activity of archery. Today with approximately 450 million fans it is actively played both in Europe and North America.
Basketball – 400 million fans
It is another quite recent kind of sport that appeared in the United States in 1891 thanks to the Canadian Doctor James Naismith. Employed as a physical education instructor at the YMCA in Massachusetts, he wanted help students to stay healthy, active and fit during long winter months, and for this reason, he created the game with the rules that are very similar to the ones of the modern Basketball game.
This sport had become extremely popular by the 1920s when hundreds of professional Basketball teams were formed throughout the United States. Today it is very popular not only in North America but also in Europe, especially in its Eastern part with more than 400 million fans.
American Football – 400 million fans
In terms of popularity, American football, also known as “gridiron football” and “simply gridiron”, is as popular as basketball by having approximately 400 million fans. It is considered to be the most popular kind of sport in the United States since more than 40% of American population watches it regularly. Moreover, as well as basketball it has also appeared in the United States.
The most popular modern league that is located and played in the United States is NFL. Regarding a revenue, it is more than 10 billion dollars annually, which means that American football players today are among the richest sportsmen in the world.