Top 10 Most Popular Sports in the World
Sports have been more than entertainment. It has been instrumental in building one of the most dynamic economic systems the world has ever seen.
The revenue from entertainment sports activities has contributed to economic growth in some of the most prosperous countries on the planet. This is evident in the impact that sport has had upon the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States.
Statista estimates that revenue from professional sports in America will be around 83.1 billion dollars. Many OTT platforms include sports in their streaming like Hotstar, Amazon prime, Jio TV, Stremio, etc. This is a significant shift in the face of the 21st-century economy. There are many forms of sport, but we have listed the top 11 most popular sports worldwide as of 2022.
Our ranking is based on the estimated number of fans, including global audience reach (TV views), online popularity (social media and search results), gender equality, sponsorship/endorsement deals, and the primary population region.
The Top Sports in the World
10. Golf – 450 million Fans
An estimated 450 million golf fans are worldwide. It is most common in North America, Western Europe, and East Asia. Golfers try to get the ball in a hole as quickly and efficiently as possible.
According to GOLF.com in 2019, approximately 441 million rounds of golf were played in the United States. Sponsorships are provided by top brands like Nike, Adidas, Rolex, and BMW.
9. Rugby – 475 million Fans
This is an inclusive sport for all and attracts up to 10 million players around the world. Rugby is a contact game that’s very similar to American football. However, American football players had a lot of protective gear, including helmets and pads.
This sport is popular in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and other Commonwealth countries. As many countries record remarkable upsets and make history, the just-concluded Rugby World Cup in Japan has attracted a lot of attention online.
This tournament is the most prestigious in rugby and attracts top names from the rugby world as well as top sponsors who invest significant amounts in sponsorship. Sponsors of the 2019 Rugby World Cup were brands such as MasterCard, Heineken, and Emirates.
8. Baseball – 500 million Fans
Baseball is a popular pastime sport in America. It is also very popular in East Asia and the Caribbean. Major League Baseball (MLB), the most popular of all baseball leagues, is home to approximately 500 million people.
Tests of gender equality show that male players dominate the sport. Sponsorships of baseball are attracted by top brands like Chevrolet, Mastercard, and Papa John’s.
7. Basketball – 825 million Fans
Basketball is a fast-paced and two-team sport. This is a highly talked about sport in the world. There are also many female leagues around the world, which attract media attention. Brands are willing to spend millions on endorsement deals with top players, as can basketball fans.
Sometimes these deals have continued after the player retires, as shown in LeBron James’s shoe deal with Nike and Michael Jordan’s.
6. Table Tennis – 875 million Fans
Table Tennis is also known as ping pong, table tennis has seen a rise in popularity to 875 million since 2003. This sport was first developed in England in the early 20th century. Although table tennis tournaments aren’t as well-known as other major sports events, they have a small following on social media and a few fans.
Table tennis is very popular in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Sponsored tournaments include table tennis tournaments sponsored by brands like Sports Master and Autohome.
5. Volleyball – Over 900 Million Fans
Volleyball, a sport with as many as 900,000,000 fans, is gaining a lot of attention around the world, especially in North and South America and Western Europe. It is however less popular than other top-rated sports.
Volleyball is gaining popularity with both men and women, making it one the most popular sports of our time. Brands like Mikasa and Dick’s Sporting Goods are supportive of Volleyball events.
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4. Tennis – 1 Billion Fans
Tennis is a physically demanding sport that can be very exhausting. However, it’s also a sport in which unexpected upsets are quite common. Recent years have seen the rise of new talent, which has heightened the excitement of the competition for the 1 billion tennis lovers.
Recent media attention has attracted both male and female tennis players, which has attracted the attention of brands like Audemars Piguet and Rolex. These brands pay big money to tennis stars through sponsorship and endorsement deals.
3. Hockey – 2 Billion Fans
Ice hockey and field hockey are two of the most popular sports in the world. Ice hockey is a popular sport in the United States, Canada, and Northern Europe. This is not unlike other sports.
There are about 2 billion hockey fans worldwide, many of whom follow the National Hockey League (NHL). Brands like Gatorade and Reebok are also interested in signing sponsorship deals with the male and female hockey leagues.
2. Cricket – 2.5 billion fans
Cricket is another popular sport that has a huge global audience. It is followed by approximately 2.5 billion people, mainly from India, South Africa, and Pakistan. The Cricket World Cup is the most watched competition in cricket. It was last played in 2019 and was viewed by approximately 2.6 billion people.
While male-dominated cricket is more prominent, women-dominated cricket has seen a rise in popularity over the past few years. Many brands have signed endorsement deals with cricket, particularly bat-making brands.
1. 4 Billion Fans Support Association Football (Soccer).
Association football, also known as soccer in Canada and the USA, is the most loved sport in the world, with an estimated 4 billion players. Two teams play soccer on a rectangular field. There is a goal at each end. Each team tries to score the other’s goal by dribbling the ball.
It is watched by more than 269 million people worldwide, especially in South and Central America and Africa. Many OTT platforms like Pirlotv mostly show streaming of football. In 2018, the FIFA World Cup, the most prestigious tournament in football, saw a record 3.5 billion viewers. Apart from that, all major football tournaments, including the UEFA Champions League, the English Premier League, and La Liga are widely followed on social media.
Female football is just as important as male football. This sport is always well-received by the media. Multi-million-dollar deals have been signed by top brands such as Coca-Cola and Qatar Airways with football governing bodies like FIFA and UEFA, top football clubs, and national teams. Soccer (football) is another popular sport.
Sports have a remarkable effect on people. Humans have enjoyed the pleasure of imaginative entertainment for centuries. This is due to the enjoyable and unifying bond of emotion it has created within our hearts.
Sports have been a source of smiles in times of violence around the globe. One example is the 1914 Christmas Day truce where warring parties put aside all differences to enjoy a beautiful game. It was a nice and kind gesture in the midst of so much violence.
Sports have received the right amount of attention from all generations, it is clear. Feel free to comment below on this list of the most popular sports around the globe.
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