The 3 Most Popular Sports in the World
Understanding what attracts billions of people to sport around the world can make other sports market themselves globally too.
Sport attracts billions of people around the world but not all are loved by everyone.
So it’s interesting to find out what sports are most popular globally.
1. Half of the planet or 3.5 billion people love soccer and feel it’s their number 1 sport.
And considering that not everyone is into sport that’s quite a large number of people.
So what captures the imagination of every second person in the world?
And more importantly, how can other sports capitalize on this popularity to improve their following?
From the outset, it seems that the skill of soccer entertains people enough for them to list it as their most preferred sport. After all, it’s not a very physical sport. There are no big tussles in the game and over the past few years, even the sliding tackle has been ruled out so the attacking player has an easier ride to the goal than the strikers of old.
But unlike many sports, there are disadvantages to the game too.
There is a lot of diving in soccer as attacking players try to gain an advantage and fool the referee into making a snap judgment in their favor. And then there is the technology that tries to verify if a player is in an offside position or not. And that began as an imperfect solution for the referees to make a solid call on players’ antics.
Although for decades fans were blessed with the silky skills of Pele and Ronaldo of Brazil, and Maradona and Messi of Argentina, Best from Northern Ireland, and Ronaldo from Portugal there’ll hardly be as many great players in the future that have so much individual ability to admire.
Yet still, people love the game.
Perhaps it’s that it’s nonstop with few breaks in play or that the advertisements are limited to the hoardings around the football pitch rather than being pushed in front of viewers every few seconds on a TV screen?
Or maybe it’s that soccer was initially seen as a working-class game and all types of characters from every nation of the world are welcome to play it?
Or it’s because a kid can carry a ball anywhere when they are young and one swift action that resembles stepping ahead will push the ball over to a pal and suddenly you’re seen to be kicking which is the basic skill of the game?
Whatever the reason people want to watch it more than any other sport around.
2. Then there is cricket which reportedly has 2.5 billion fans.
That’s no small number.
But when you realize that the game is not spread as evenly around the world as soccer is then you can begin to understand how it could become more popular across the planet if it was promoted internationally. Because many of the countries that play the game come from either Asia or the former British monarchy.
The game is huge in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, and New Zealand. However, it’s not as popular in Europe or America.
Still, for it to grow around the world it needs to market itself better.
And that’s only if it wants to grow around the world because at present it still has a huge following.
Yet Cricket’s a slower game than football with lots of breaks in play that many people don’t become allured to straight away. As many people flick through TV channels and scroll online they don’t have as much patience to try to understand all of the stats that are on screen and so often lose interest in the contests straight away.
Plus, mastering the skill of a batman is not easy.
And having money to buy all the kit that’s involved for the average kid on the street is quite expensive. When you compare that to the two digits showing a 1–0 scoreline in soccer and the ease of finding a football in all sports shops around the world it’s understandable to see how cricket is not as popular as soccer across the globe.
3. Basketball isn’t too far behind cricket in popularity though with 2.4 billion people enjoying the game worldwide.
Like soccer, there are lots of obvious skills in the game.
And you easily buy a basketball in any sports store that you go to as well.
But to be a great basketball player it’s generally accepted that you need to be quite tall. Because it’s not unheard of to have players approaching 7 feet in height in the National Basketball League (NBA) which is the biggest basketball league in the world.
But then again, basketball is growing internationally.
As the NBA is developing leagues in Africa and former NBA star Stephon Marbury decided to relocate to Japan some years ago it’s given the sport new life.
Other sports that are globally popular are ice and field hockey which combined has an audience of over 2.2 billion people. Ice hockey is more popular in the US and Canada whereas field hockey is played more in Asia, and most notably India and Pakistan.
Tennis too has over a billion fans and is played on a range of surfaces all around the world.
And its cousin of table tennis is ever popular in China which has a massive population not only in Asia but across the world too.
Volleyball is ever-growing internationally as it stemmed from its Olympic popularity over the past few decades.
Then there are the American sports of baseball and football.
With many popular movies like The Rookie and Field of Dreams, they’ve captured people’s passions for the traditional American pastime.
And when you have the Super Bowl annually with top-class musical acts at half time the sporting weekend becomes a ritual for many not only in the US but around the world to watch on cable TV as well.