The Most Played Sports in the 90s

Sports are popular for a number of reasons. Many people participate in sports for recreational purposes, for keeping a healthy lifestyle, or for a professional career. 

Here, we’re going to take a look at the different sports that gained popularity during the 1990s. Check out the details below and learn more about the most played sports in this particular decade. 

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Tennis
  • Cricket
  • Hockey
  • Golf
  • Volleyball
  • Table Tennis
  • Rugby
  • Boxing
  • Lacrosse
  • Swimming
  • Badminton
  • Cycling
The Most Played Sports in the 90s
Image Source: Mongoose Agency


Football is famous across the globe and continues to be among the top three most popular sports. It is played in many countries worldwide, especially in Europe, Central and South America, and Africa. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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The National Football League, widely known as the NFL, has recruited numerous young men into playing professional football. The Dallas Cowboys established a legacy in the 90s by winning three Super Bowl championships over a period of four years. 

With its 32 teams, the NFL has been a major league in the United States with the Super Bowl being one of the most anticipated sports events every year.


People of all ages and nationalities have been playing basketball for over a century. Basketball is also the fastest growing sport as more professional leagues are being established. The game has produced many fans who support the college, national, and professional basketball teams.

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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During the 90s, basketball player Michael Jordan became a global star. He won six National Basketball Association (NBA) championships as a part of the Chicago Bulls. Also, he received massive endorsement contracts with famous brands like Nike, kickstarting sports marketing.

Basketball legacy in the 90s was seen at the Olympics. In 1992, The Men’s Olympic Basketball team called the Dream Team won gold in Barcelona. 


Baseball has been popular in America for several years. It has become one of the world’s most popular sports, due to increasing participation in countries like Japan. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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The United States’ Major League Baseball (MLB) and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) are included in the top 10 biggest pro sports leagues

During the 90s, interleague play, which began in 1997, was added to MLB. While the creation of the independent leagues was one of the biggest stories of minor league baseball.

According to the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the international governing body of the sport, approximately 65 million people in over 140 countries play either baseball or softball.


Tennis is known worldwide as one of the most popular sports. It is played both singles and doubles version by over 1 billion people from different countries. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Tennis was primarily a sport dominated by Great Britain and the United States.

In the 1990s, tennis in America was consistently popular. It also grew significantly across western Europe including France, Germany, and Spain. While countries like Italy and Sweden were able to produce top tennis players.


Cricket was a competition in the 1990s, with 3 different World Cup winners. Many of the game’s best players rose to fame during this decade, such as Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, and Wasim Akram.

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Cricket has a total fan base of 2.5 billion globally. The game is particularly famous in the UK and some former British colonies, such as Australia, India, and Pakistan. According to the International Cricket Council (ICC), 125 countries from all over the world play cricket.

Playing cricket consists of two teams, a bat, scoring runs, and a large field. It can be compared to playing baseball, except the ball is thrown to a batsman from a long rectangular pitch at the center of a cricket field.


Ice hockey is hugely popular in the US, Canada, and Northern Europe. In the 1990s, the National Hockey League grew from 21 to 30 teams. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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In 1991 and 1992, the Pittsburgh Penguins led by Mario Lemieux won the Stanley Cup tournament

Many of the greatest hockey players of all time were playing in the NHL in the 90s, including Patrick Roy, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Sakic, and Steve Yzerman.


Golf is widely played in North America, East Asia, and Western Europe. According to Golf Today magazine, there are 60 million people from worldwide who regularly play golf.

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Golf is known to be invented in Scotland. Since then, it has developed into a multi-million dollar sport with people competing for the prize.

Tiger Woods is known as one of the greatest golf players and has helped changed the golf industry. He has influenced the golf industry since he became a professional golfer in 1996. Since the 90s, the number of golf players has increased as well as the golf course development. 


Volleyball is a sport that originated in the United States. Since then, it has become globally recognized with an estimated participation of 998 million people. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Both indoor and outdoor volleyball games are played around the world. Volleyball has more than 220 affiliated national federations registered to the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIBV), the sport’s global governing body.

In 1990, the FIBV Volleyball League, an annual international men’s volleyball competition, was established. Then, in 1993, the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, an annual women’s volleyball competition, was created.

Table Tennis

With estimated participation of 875 million people, table tennis has been included among the most played sports around the world. It is widely famous in Asia, but it is also followed in Europe, the United States, and Africa.

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Since its introduction into schools, social clubs, and sports facilities across the globe, table tennis has developed and increased its popularity in the past decade. The International Table Tennis Federation had over 165 national associations by the mid-1990s.

Table tennis is similar to tennis as players on each side hit the ball past the opponents. However, it is played on a table with a net at the center using a different kind of racket and ball. Table tennis is also called Ping-Pong, which originated in the early 20th century in England. 


Rugby has an estimated 475 million people who play the game. The sport started in England and is now widespread in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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During the 1990s, rugby league increased in popularity in the Pacific, with teams in Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga, and Japan.

Playing rugby involves two teams that try to kick, hold, or pass a ball over a goal line to get scores. Rugby is a contact sport requiring a lot of tackling, similar to American football. However, rugby players wear lesser protective gear than American football players.


Boxing is a global sport, popular in many countries such as the USA, the UK, Mexico, Latin America, Russia, Philippines, Japan, Poland, Ukraine, and Romania. In the 1990s, the popularity of boxing centers on all divisions.

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Amateur boxing is one of the sports played in the Olympics. It is also famous at every Olympics season. Compared to professional boxing, amateur boxing is more represented by many countries in the Olympics. Thus, it became one of the most accessible sports across the globe.

Boxing under the Queensberry rules went international in the 1990s due to two factors. One is through the globalization of culture. And, two is the emergence of satellite technology that enables major boxing games to be watched and transmitted worldwide.


Based on the history of organized sports, lacrosse is North America’s oldest organized sport by far. Lacrosse is one of North America’s fastest-growing sports and is played in Canada, Australia, Europe, and other nations worldwide.

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Youth-level participation has contributed to making lacrosse gain attention from media networks that now broadcast lacrosse matches regularly. It is a sport in which a broad range of ages can play and enjoy. In addition, the sport became a favorite of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 

Since the 90s, two professional leagues with over 20 teams have formed, namely, the Major League Lacrosse and the National League Lacrosse. One of the 90s best teams is the Princeton Tigers, who won 3 consecutive NCAA championships from 1996 to 1998.


Swimming is an all-around bodybuilder, which makes it a popular exercise among people of all ages. It also remained relevant as a recreation and sport in the 1990s. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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In many countries, various swimming programs provide the core of competitive swimming. These have produced many athletes who pursued swimming for educational institutions or Olympic teams.

In 1994 Kieren Perkins and Samantha Riley earned the World Swimmer of the Year award in recognition of their excellence from their country of Australia.


Though many might find it surprising, but badminton is one of the most played sports in the world. Badminton is a highly popular indoor and outdoor sport, played by an estimated 220 million people around the world on a regular basis. 

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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Badminton is especially common in Asia, with the sport coming from the continent. In particular, it is popular in countries such as China, Korea, Malaysia, and India. In Europe and the Americas, badminton is more of an amateur sport.

Badminton competitions for men’s and women’s singles and doubles have been held at the Olympic Games since 1992.


Cycling is a well-known recreational sport around the world. While as a professional sport, cycling is famous in Europe. Since the invention of the bicycle, it has grown in popularity with its continued development and transformation.

The Most Played Sports in the 90s
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The Tour de France is the world’s largest cycling race event that occurs annually in France. At the present, almost half of the population in 188 countries in the world watches Tour de France on television. 

In 1999, American cyclist Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France and would go on to become a legend in the professional cycling world.


All over the world, sports have a long and rich history. Sports continued to evolve and rise in popularity during the 90s. Over time, although many things about sports have changed, people’s love for sports has remained the same.


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