Sports are the top forms of entertainment across the world, but not all sports are created equal. Some sports are hardly as popular as others and some of them have remained at the very top for a very long time.
This list ranks the top eight based on their popularity and we’re pretty sure you won’t have a hard time guessing what the most popular one would be.
So, here goes.
Football is, by far, the most popular sport in the world and boasts over four billion fans worldwide. The sport is the most watched internationally, with association football played and watched just about everywhere, especially in Africa, Europe, and South America.
There are several professional leagues worldwide, which is one of the reasons for the sport’s immense popularity, while the FIFA World Cup is always a huge attraction, even to non-football fans. Over 7.7 million fans headed to Russia to watch the tournament in 2018, which is more than any other sporting event can boast.
With the next World Cup coming up in 2022, it is expected that even more fans make the trip, although COVID-19 travel protocols could make things more difficult.
With over 2.7 billion fans all over the world, basketball is the second most popular sport around and the fanbase is still growing quite rapidly. Michael Jordan is credited with making the sport as popular as it is yet the global icons of the current era, such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, are doing their part to make basketball even more of a favorite.
The effect is particularly telling given that basketball recently passed cricket as the world’s second most popular sport.
The USA’s NBA is the strongest and most popular league in the world and Team USA winning Gold at the Olympics just last month gives credence to the notion.
Cricket used to be the second most popular sport in the world but, as mentioned above, was usurped by basketball this year. It’s now at No.3, with 2.6 billion fans on a worldwide scale but owns a large social media presence.
This sport is mostly played and watched in England, Australia, Asia, South Africa, India, and the Caribbean. It’s mostly played in series, unlike the sports noted above, but there are plenty of one-day matches to take in every year as well.
There are more than 1.5 billion tennis fans around the planet and it is a favorite in many places. With more than 50 pro leagues worldwide and several high-profile annual tournaments, this sport garners quite a lot of attention. It’s also one of the sports many of the top bookmakers offer odds on and, on that note, fans could find a list of the most reputable online sportsbooks here.
Tennis could be played one vs. one (singles) or two vs. two (doubles).
The most dangerous sport on this list, boxing has around 900 million fans and is now the fifth-most popular sport in the world. Boxing is also very lucrative, and several million go into the pockets of the competitors involved in the biggest fights.
A number of boxers are among the richest athletes in the world.
There was a time when the sport was losing its luster but Muhamad Ali’s rise to prominence took it back up and it has remained a top watch ever since, with big names such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Floyd Mayweather carrying the torch.
Probably a bit surprising to see volleyball in this position yet it happens to be the sixth-most popular sport in the world, boasting nearly 900 million fans. The sport gained popularity over the past 10 years or so, thanks to the Olympic Games, and is now in the top 10.
Volleyball is one of the most-watched events in the Olympics and the Volleyball World Cup is also very much the popular watch.
The seventh most popular sporting discipline in the world, rugby has over 500 million fans. It’s one of the sports which have been around for the longest and has also benefitted from exposure presented by the Olympic Games.
There are over 20 leagues worldwide but the Olympics and World Cup can claim most of the credit for increasing the sport’s popularity.
8. Ice Hockey
Ice hockey is in the top 10 thanks to the popularity of the NHL but this sport is quite popular in Europe, as well as Russia. A wildly entertaining sport, ice hockey is followed by around 500 million fans worldwide.
It’s a fan favorite in the US and Canada, with the NHL one of the more popular leagues around. Yet some of the biggest names currently involved hail from overseas.