Sport popularity is highly dependent on location and geography. Different sports are played all over the world as hobbies, careers or as a part of fitness regimes. Some sports have grown to be more popular than others, attracting billions of fans, so we compiled this list based on participation, TV viewership and rights, prominence in the media, global spread, and salaries at the top level.
Most popular sports in the world by participation
Easily one of the most popular sports in the world, 60 million people around the world regularly play golf according to Golf Today magazine.
The definition of regularly playing golf in the above figure refers to playing at least one round of golf per year.
For many years, baseball was most popular in America than anywhere else, but nowadays it’s one of the most popular sports in the world with participation rising rapidly in countries like Japan.
The sport’s international governing body, World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), estimate that 65 million people play either baseball or softball in over 140 countries.
8. Table Tennis
Table tennis has become one of the most popular sports in the last decade following its integration in schools, social clubs and sports centres around the globe. Topend Sportsestimate 300 million people worldwide play table tennis.
The majority of participants of this sport come from Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the UK, but cricket is also on the rise in other countries all over the world.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) state an incredible 125 countries around the world play the sport.
Widely recognised as one of the most popular individual sports in the world, tennis is played by an estimated number of 60 million men and women according to Topend Sports.
The sport is growing at serious speed in Asia, so don’t be surprised to see tennis rank higher among the most popular sports in years to come.
The Federation of International Basketball Associations estimates a minimum of 450 million people plays the sport around the world.
Thanks to global superstars like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, basketball is very marketable and that is reflected in its top 5 ranking among the world’s most popular sports.
With its origins in America, volleyball has grown to an estimated global participation figure of 998 million people. Indoor and outdoor versions of the sport are played all over the world, with over 220 affiliated national federations registered to volleyball’s global governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball.
3. Field Hockey
This fast-paced sport is played by men and women in over 100 countries on 5 continents around the world.
A firm favourite at the Olympic Games, field hockey is a highly technical sport, played by 10 outfield players plus a goalkeeper and its rules differ from the Ice Hockey variation of the sport.
It may come as a surprise to some people that badminton is among the world’s most popular sports. However, it is extremely popular and played regularly by an estimated 220 million people around the world. It is particularly popular in Asia, with many of the best players ever to grace the game hailing from the continent.
Be it at grassroots level, 5-a-side leagues or at the top level, no sport rivals soccer for participation.
In the last global census undertaken by the sports governing body FIFA, it was estimated that there are 265 million people who play the sport along with more than 5 million referees, which equates to 4% of the world’s population, thus cementing its place atop the list of the world’s most popular sports.
Fastest Growing Sports in the World
Sport is very important part of our lives, whether you love sport or hate it, you may just find a new hobby after reviewing some of these fastest growing sports! Some of these “sports” you may have never heard of before. Here’s some of the oddest and fastest growing sports in the world.
The Fastest Growing Sports are..
Padel is a cross between real tennis, regular tennis, squash and ping pong. The racquets are solid and stringless and you can play it to a high standard well into your old age because the sport is all about strategy and guile but muscle and smashing the ball as hard as you can works too!
It’s massive in Spain where it’s estimated that padel is played by between six to 10 million Spaniards, compared to around 200,000 who actively play tennis. The The massive growth of Padel continues outside of spain where it’s the fastest growing sports in England and Scandinavia and growing fast in the USA too.
This great sport even has it’s own World Padel Tour
Most people will heard of Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP by now and if not you mustn’t live too close to water! Standup Paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and the most versatile of all board sports. SUP’s can be used in flat water, rivers and rapids, touring, racing and surfing. And more recently there is SUP fishing and even SUP yoga!
Mixed Martial Arts
A relatively new sport that has burst onto the global scene is that of mixed martial arts. The UFC has grown from strength to strength over the last decade producing some of the best fighters ever. MMA has become one of the most fastest growing sports in America, with more and more youngster taking up the sport from an early age. With the likes of Conor McGregor breaking multiple attendance records and pay-per-view records alike, it is evident how popular the sport has become. In 2016, the UFC was bought for $4bn which was the biggest sale in the history of sports. With the success of the UFC, many other organisations are also growing, such as Bellator, One Championship and more. Many are instrumental in the growth because of the part they play in bringing the young kids in from grass routes and training them up to be fighting predators.
Adventure racing (also called expedition racing) is typically a multi-disciplinary team sport involving navigation over an unmarked wilderness course with races extending anywhere from two hours up to two weeks in length. The principle disciplines in adventure racing include trekking, mountain biking, and paddling although races can incorporate a multitude of other disciplines including climbing, abseiling, horse riding, skiing and white water rafting. The sport is continuing to grow year by year, more and more people are keen to get out and get fit. In the last 3 years, over 1 million now compete in adventure races across America with a 20% increase on previous years.
The short history of eSports has been an amazing story, it has seen a stratospheric has rise in popularity of the last decade and 2020 will see that continue. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, sports fans are looking for something to fill the void, eSports has stepped into the breach helping it turn into a billion dollar a year industry. In 2019 the total audience size grew to 380 million and in 2019 it looks like that figure was over 450 million! Goldman Sachs expects that eSports will have roughly the same viewership levels by 2022 as the NFL.
Competitive gaming has also had a huge boost in viewing figures and also revenue jumps of late. Some of the biggest eSporting events such as League of Legends and Call of Duty have massive prize pots and according to statista, it is estimated that the e-Sports industry will be valued at $1.5 billion in the coming years. It’s frightening how quick and global the industry has become, yet it is no surprise since we are in the forever rise of the digital age!
Piloting your drone aircraft through an intricate, Star Wars-like obstacle course or ramming an enemy to the ground in a dogfight—sounds slightly like science fiction, doesn’t it? It’s not. In fact, both sports already exist. Each drone is equipped with a camera that streams images in real time to first person view (FPV) goggles worn by the pilots. The pilot literally feels like he or she is sitting on the nose of the drone, as it flies around courses in venues like outdoor stadiums, factory buildings or tents. Pricewaterhouse Coopers forecast that the world drone market will be worth nearly $127 billion by 2020. So if you want to get in on the action a beginners kit including goggles and starter drone would cost you around $300 and more advanced kits will cost you over $1,000. Expensive but fun!
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong using a paddle and plastic ball with holes. It is a game that is appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels. Pickleball rules are so similar to ping-pong, it can be easy for practically anyone to learn how to play the game. Whether you’re a beginner who just wants to learn a new sport for fun, or you’re a seasoned player who craves the thrill of more competitive play, pickleball offers something for everyone. So if you have never heard of it and want to know more about it, check out the video above!