Today we are going to take a look at the top 10 most popular sports in the world. But before we do that it is important to know the importance of sports and the criteria that should be used to make a ranking of sports.
Sports plays an important role in our lives. From the early childhood years where we take sports very seriously to the later years in life where we consider it as a hobby, a fitness ritual, and sometimes even a profession. Today in every part of the world some sport is passionately followed. People take their sporting heroes as their role models and often have emotional attachment with their favorite sports stars and sports teams. People in different regions of the world have different favorite sports. This makes ranking the sports quite a challenging and difficult job. This is exactly why it is hard to ascertain the reliability and accuracy of different sports lists out there.
Here, it is important to know exactly what do we mean by most popular sports. The word “popular” could mean “most watched sports,” “most played sports,” or “most revenue-generating sports”. But in all honesty it would be unfair to rank the sports by popularity, if we take just one or two criteria. Therefore, we have decided to use 15 different criteria in order to rank the most popular sports in the world.
Criteria Used for Ranking:
- Global Fan Base and Audience
- Viewership on TV
- TV Rights Deals
- Popularity on Internet
- Presence on Social Media
- Number of Professional Leagues in the World
- Average Salary of Athletes in the Top Leagues
- Sponsorship Deals
- Number of Countries in Which the Sport is Popular
- Biggest Competition
- Relevancy Throughout the Year
- Gender Equality
- Access to the General Public
- Number of Amateur Players in The World
- Prominence of the sport in sports headlines on print and electronic media
We have used these extensive criteria in order to make sure that we can accurately ascertain the popularity of different sports and rank them in the correct order. Hopefully, this list compiled after thorough research would be helpful for you. Do let us know what you think about this list and the popularity of different sports in the world in the comments section below.
Most Popular Sports in The World
Golf is at No 10 in Popularity in the World among other Sports. with more than 390 million fans in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Golf is a precision club and ball sport in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course using the fewest number of strokes. Golf is defined, in the rules of golf, as “playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules.”
Global Fan Base and Audience: Golf is one sport that is more popular in the elderly as compared to the young people. The sport has more than 390 million fans around the world. Most of these fans are concentrated in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Viewership on TV: Golf enjoys high levels of viewership among male adults belonging to upper class. The TV viewership of the sport is pretty low among females and among younger males.
TV Rights Deals: Being a sport of rich upper class, golf gets pretty good TV rights deals for the major tournaments in the US and Europe.
Popularity on Internet: The popularity of the sport is limited on the internet. There are a limited number of searches related to golf on the internet.
Presence on Social Media: As social media is mostly dominated by the younger generation, and golf is a sport mostly played and followed by people older than 35, the sport has very limited presence on social media.
Number of Professional Leagues in the World: Different individual tournaments of golf are connected into a series of tournaments via professional golf tours. The major tours include PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, and PGA Tour Champions.
Average Salary of Athletes in the Top Leagues: Golf professionals enjoy handsome amount of salaries in the form of prize money and endorsement deals. Tiger Woods the most famous golf player of all time was the highest paid athlete among all sports for a number of years.
Sponsorship Deals: The golf tournaments are sponsored by major brands around the world. Golf athletes are also able to get pretty handsome endorsement deals from large companies. These sponsorship deals are often in millions of dollars.
Number of Countries in Which the Sport is Popular: There are 118 countries in the International Golf Federation. The sport has seen a lot of growth in countries like China, Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia in the recent years.
Biggest Competition: The Masters Tournament, The US Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship are the biggest golf competitions.
Relevancy Throughout the Year: The sport is relevant on the news and in general discussions only during the major championships.
Gender Equality: Although golf is more popular among men, the sport is followed and played by women as well. In the recent years the popularity of golf has increased in women especially in the developed countries.
Access to the General Public: When it comes to access to the general public, golf does not score well. It is mostly known as a sport for the rich. The sport has better access for general public in the US, Japan and in some countries of Europe. But overall it is considered a sport for the rich. Middle class and lower middle class people around the world don’t have access to golf facilities.
Number of Amateur Players in The World: The number of amateur player of golf is not that big all over the world. The US, Japan, Australia and some countries of Europe have more amateur players than other parts of the world.
Prominence of the sport in sports headlines on print and electronic media: During the major tournaments golf gets high levels of prominence in the sports bulletins especially in the US and Japan.
9. American football
9th most popular sport with around 390-410 million fans (US mainly)
American football (known as football in the United States and gridiron in some other countries) is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field 120 yards long and 53.3 yards wide with goalposts at each end. The offense attempts to advance an oval ball (the football) down the field by running with it or passing it. They must advance it at least ten yards in four downs to receive a new set of four downs and continue the drive; if not, they turn over the ball to the opposing team.
Global Fan Base and Audience: Being a sport that is mostly played in the US, the fan base of American Football is concentrated in the US. It is highly popular in the United States.
Viewership on TV: American Football is one of the most watched sports in the US. Elsewhere it does not enjoy good levels of viewership.
TV Rights Deals: NFL, National Football League in the US is the most popular sports league in the world. The NFL TV rights are sold in billions of dollars per year.
Popularity on Internet: NFL is quite popular on the Internet in the US. Google records very high level of American Football related searches in the US. Elsewhere, the popularity of the sport is negligible.
Presence on Social Media: The sport enjoys impressive presence on the social media thanks to its US fan base. The teams and athletes of American Football are often among the top trends in the social media.
Number of Professional Leagues in the World: American Football does not have professional leagues in majority of the countries. The only renowned league of the sport is in the US. It is known as the NFL.
Average Salary of Athletes in the Top Leagues: The professionals in the largest league of the game, i.e. NFL, enjoy average salary of $1.9 million dollars. This is very impressive as compared to other sports.
Sponsorship Deals: The teams of NFL and the professionals of American Football are able to land pretty handsome sponsorship deals from the major brands in the US. The numbers are often in tens of millions of dollars.
Number of Countries in Which the Sport is Popular: This is one area where American Football does not do well. Although it is the most popular sport in the US, it has negligible popularity in other countries of the world.
Biggest Competition: The biggest event of American Football is the Super Bowl. It is the National Football League Championship Game that is played annually between the champions of the National and the American Football Conferences. It is the most watched sporting event in the US.
Relevancy Throughout the Year: The sport is relevant almost throughout the year in the US. Its relevancy peaks up during the NFL season.
Gender Equality: American Football is one of the most male dominated sports out there.
Access to the General Public: The sport enjoys pretty good access to the general public in the US. Elsewhere, as the sport is not that popular, it is not accessible to the general public.
Number of Amateur Players in The World: American Football has a handsome number of amateur players in the US.
Prominence of the sport in sports headlines on print and electronic media: American Football is prominent in the sports headlines on the print as well as the electronic media in the US, almost throughout the year. It is the most popular sport in the country and it is reflected in the sports bulletins. In other countries the sport rarely makes it to the news.
9th most popular sport with around 390-410 million fans (France, England, New Zealand and South Africa mainly)
Rugby is widely played in France and has a strong tradition in the people of Basque, Occitan, and Catalan areas along the border regions between Spain and France. The game is very popular in South Africa, having been introduced by English-speaking settlers in the 19th century. British colonists also brought the game with them to Australia and New Zealand, where the game is widely played. It has spread thence to much of Polynesia, having particularly strong followings in Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga
Global Fan Base and Audience: Rugby has a strong fan base in Australia, England, France and New Zealand. There are more than 390 million fans of the sport in these countries. Other countries also have limited number of fans of Rugby.
Viewership on TV: The TV viewership of Rugby is pretty good in the Rugby playing nations. In other countries it is negligible.
TV Rights Deals: The TV rights deals for Rugby tournaments are not as big as Football, Cricket or Tennis, but they are still quite costly.
Popularity on Internet: The sport is moderately popular on the Internet and enjoys a high level of searches during the rugby world cup, especially in the participating nations.
Presence on Social Media: Rugby enjoys limited presence on social media. Major Rugby clubs and Rugby stars are moderately popular on different social media networks.
Number of Professional Leagues in the World: Most of the developed countries have professional Rugby Leagues. The popularity of these leagues is quite varying.
Average Salary of Athletes in the Top Leagues: The average salary of a rugby player is around $60,000 per annum.
Sponsorship Deals: Rugby players are able to get some good sponsorship deals from major sports brands around the world.
Number of Countries in Which the Sport is Popular: The sport is popular in only a handful of countries. In other countries the sport only enjoys limited popularity.
Biggest Competition: The biggest competition of Rugby is the Rugby World Cup that is held after every four years. 20 countries participate in the event.
Relevancy Throughout the Year: Rugby is mostly only relevant during the major tournaments or during the bilateral series among different rugby playing nations.
Gender Equality: Rugby is a male dominated sport both at the professional as well as at the amateur level.
Access to the General Public: Rugby does not enjoy good access to the general public as compared to other sports, primarily because of its nature and the large area required.
Number of Amateur Players in The World: The number of amateur player of rugby is not that big. The sport is moderately popular at the amateur level in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and France.
Prominence of the sport in sports headlines on print and electronic media: Rugby is quite prominent in the sports news in the Rugby playing countries.
There are Around 500 million fans in the US, Japan, Cuba, and Dominican Republic, making Baseball 8th Most Popular Sport in the World.
Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of nine players who take turns batting and fielding.
The offense attempts to score more runs than its opponent by hitting a ball thrown by the pitcher with a bat and moving counter-clockwise around a series of four bases: first, second, third and home plate. A run is scored when the runner advances around the bases and returns to home plate.
Global Fan Base and Audience: Baseball enjoys a huge number of fans in the US, Canada, Cuba and Dominican Republic.
Viewership on TV: The sport is widely watched in the US, Cuba and Japan. The viewership is not that good in other countries of the world.
TV Rights Deals: The TV rights deals for MLB in the US and the Nippon League in the Japan reaches hundreds of millions of dollars.
Popularity on Internet: The sport is quite popular on the Internet in the countries where it is commonly played. The searches on Google in the US related to this sport are also pretty high.
Presence on Social Media: The social media presence of the sport is pretty good in the US, Cuba, Japan and the Dominican Republic. In other countries the presence is negligible.
Number of Professional Leagues in the World: There are only a handful of countries where professional leagues of baseball are in place. These include, the US, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Australia. Some other countries do have professional leagues of Baseball but they are on a very small scale.
Average Salary of Athletes in the Top Leagues: The average salary of Baseball players in the MLB is more than $4 million. This is pretty good when compared to other major sports leagues around the world.
Sponsorship Deals: The Baseball teams and players in the US are able to get some excellent sponsorship deals, often reaching in millions of dollars.
Number of Countries in Which the Sport is Popular: The number of countries where Baseball is played is very limited. There are only a handful of countries where Baseball is played as a professional or even as an amateur sport.
Biggest Competition: Baseball World Cup and World Baseball Classic are the biggest tournaments of Baseball. All the major countries that play baseball participate in these international competitions.
Relevancy Throughout the Year: The sport is more relevant during the MLB season in the US. It is not that much relevant during the rest of the year.
Gender Equality: Baseball is one of the most male dominated sports out there.
Access to the General Public: The sport has good access for general public in the US. In other countries the access to the general public is not that good.
Number of Amateur Players in The World: The number of amateur players of Baseball in the world is limited to the US, Japan, Dominican Republic and Cuba. These countries have a fairly good number of amateur players of the sport.
Prominence of the sport in sports headlines on print and electronic media: The sport enjoys reasonably good prominence in the sports headlines on the print as well as the electronic media in the US and in Japan.