Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World

Sports become a part of our lives as soon as we’re old enough to throw a ball and stay with us into adulthood. And their not just for entertainment, playing sports promotes growth and development, fosters friendly competition, and helps bodies become fit and healthy. 

Sports also bring people together, especially those who are fans of specific sporting events. In this article, you can discover the most popular sports in the world, and find out how many people follow these sporting events. 


Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World

How Sports Integrate with Culture

For many people, certain sports are part of life because these are considered part of their culture. In Spain and Argentina, kids are generally drawn to football because it’s like an extension of their culture

A lot of kids play the sport because it’s considered an investment, not just a hobby or extracurricular activity.  In the United States, basketball may be the most popular sport, along with soccer or hockey, and people are naturally drawn to these games. 

Even at a young age, kids are exposed to these games for staying fit and developing friendly competition with other children. It’s safe to say that sports are part of any country’s culture, and that’s why people are so passionate about their teams. 

This also builds a strong connection between communities who also enjoy sports in general. The connection and bond are strengthened, and people get to know more about themselves.

The Value of Sports in Society   

The entertainment value is one thing, as people love heightened excitement when watching matches. The unexplainable feeling when a favorite team loses, heart racing moment when a team is about to win, define what sport is about. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World

More importantly, sports recognize the people who excel and train hard just to win. With this, the communities can celebrate the amazing talents of people coming from different walks of life. There’s recognition, power, and definitely influence that gives everyone hopes to dream big.

The Most Popular Sports in the World

Aside from the popular sports of basketball and football, there are other sports you might not realize have millions of followers. Check out the world’s most famous sports ranked by their following numbers and also learn about their history. 

9. Tennis

Tennis is one of the most recognizable sports in the world, involving strenuous movements in the court. It’s usually played individually against another single opponent or between two teams comprising of two players or what is called Doubles. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: Decathlon

This sport is popular in the more developed countries particularly in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. With a following of 60 million around the world, tennis is known almost anywhere. 

It was developed in the 12th century, a descent of the French handball game named Paume. Over the years, it was changed into handball before it turned tennis, using a racquet to hit the ball. Wimbledon is the most prestigious tournament in tennis. 

Other tournaments of the sport include the Australian Open, French Open, and the US Open. However, it’s Wimbledon which attracts more attention from the rest of the world. 

8. Golf

A lot of people can associate golf with the elite, as lovers of this sport usually belong to the upper class, and most especially older people. This is a precision club and ball sport that involves players hitting the balls into a series of holes on a course. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: Winagamie Golf Course

This sport is tricky, as players only have a few strokes for hitting the balls. Golf has an estimated fan base of around 450 million worldwide, most prevalent in Northern America, Western Europe, and the East Asia region. 

The sport originated in Scotland in the 15th century but the word itself originated in the Netherlands. The biggest professional tournament for this sport is definitely the Masters Tournament, for invitation only and with prize money. 

7. Rugby

If tennis is strenuous, rugby is on a different level for the sport involves two teams trying to kick, carry, and pass the ball on the goal. It’s a contact sport similar to American football. Players can be seen wearing a lot of padding to protect themselves from pushing and attacking other players. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: Jacob Lund

Rugby enjoys pretty much attention from around the world. It has a fan base of 475 million, and especially famous in England and the UK. This is not a surprise as the sport originated in England in 1823. 

The World Cup of Rugby is the biggest tournament that exists, along with the Olympic Games, and Commonwealth Games. 

6. Baseball

Baseball is definitely among the most popular sports in the world, with an estimated following of 500 million. It’s a descent of the English sports rounders and cricket, involving two teams trying to hit a ball with a bat and the batters running in a series of bases to score runs. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
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The sport is pretty famous in Cuba, the US, Canada, Dominican Republic, and East Asia. The biggest competitions for baseball are the Baseball World Cup and the World Baseball Classic. Meanwhile, globally, Major League Baseball is recognized for being the pinnacle of the leagues. 

5. Table Tennis

Also known as Ping Pong, this sport is derived from regular tennis, only with a table at the center and two players beating the ball past their opponents. This sport originated in England in the 20th century but is now pretty popular globally. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: Insights Game

With an estimated following of 875 million, table tennis is loved by hobbyists, professional players, and amateur players. It’s also pretty popular in Asia, particularly in Japan, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. 

The most important competition or league for this sport includes the World Table Tennis Championships, Table Tennis World Cup, and the Olympics. 

4. Volleyball

The soaring jumps, hitting of the ball, and intense ball exchange from two teams make volleyball an exciting sport. In fact, it boasts of an impressive fan base of roughly 900 million, coming from North America, Western Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: Sports Rec

There are indoor and outdoor versions of the sport, with the later famous for the beach venue. There are about 220 affiliated national federations registered in the sport’s governing body called the FIVB. 

Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William Morgan from the United States. It was the YMCA that invented the rules of volleyball in 1916. Aside from the Olympic Games, the FIVB World Championship and World Cup are the most significant competitions of the sport. 

3. Hockey

Either field or ice, hockey seems to be a famous sport perfect for big groups. It’s actually considered a family of sports as two teams play against each other, maneuvering a ball into the opponent’s goal post. The main catch is, players use a hockey stick to move the ball around. 

There are women and men events for the sport, and both enjoy a great deal of following. Generally, hockey sport has over 2.2 billion fans in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: Sports Engine

Ice hockey is more popular in Canada, the US, Latvia, and Sweden, while field hockey is more popular in Pakistan and India. Professional leagues of the sport include the NHL of the United States, considered the biggest hockey tournament in the world. 

It was in 1875 when ice hockey was invented. In 2008, the International Hockey Federation was established as the official ice hockey organization. 

2. Basketball

Almost everyone in the world knows the sport basketball, invented by a Canadian teacher named James Naismith in the 19th century. It involves two teams attempting to dribble and shoot the ball to score points. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: Dunk Or Three

The simplicity of the sport brought about billions of fans, as it requires no equipment, except for the two baskets and a ball. It has about two to three billion followers from different parts of the globe particularly in the US, Canada, China, Philippines, and other parts of Asia. 

While many countries have their own professional leagues for basketball, the most famous are NBA and the FIBA Basketball World Cup. 

1. Football/Soccer

When thinking of the most popular sports in the world, football definitely hits the top spot. According to FIFA, the governing body of the sport, there are 265 million people who play the sport, equating to four percent of the world’s population. 

Discover the Most Popular Sports in the World
Image Source: The Warriors League

The sport has a massive following of four billion fans, with origins from England in the 19th century. Just like basketball, football doesn’t require extensive equipment, just a ball. It can be played in a rectangular field with a goal on each end. 

The biggest leagues and tournaments for football or soccer are FIFA World Cup, UEFA Championships League, UEFA European Championships, and Copa America Cup. 


Some of those numbers may shock you but one thing is for sure, the one thing the whole world has in common is sports. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can communicate through sport in a universal language. 

Besides the health and fitness value of sports, the community-building aspect of athletics is probably the best thing to come out of people’s intense passion for sports within their borders and without.


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