When it comes to deciding the most favorite sport each one has their own favorite choice, and moreover, there is no clear-cut formula to decide which sport can be classified as popular or not. With world population crossing 7 billion, it is humanly impossible to decide the most popular sports in the world because a sport popular in one division of the world may not be that much famous in the rest of world. For example, NFL is widely followed in America whereas Table Tennis has more popularity in China, particularly in Asia.
Here, we have ranked the top 10 most popular sports in the world and the criteria used for ranking purpose are –
- Maximum viewership on Internet, Television etc.
- Large number of fan following
- Maximum number of countries where the game is followed
- Most rewarding sports discipline
- Public interaction
In The Article
Association Foot Ball or Soccer
The number one game in the world with nearly 3.5 billion followers, football tops the list of the most popular sports in the world. With a unique combination of tough competition, one-to-one aggression, adrenaline-gushing excitement, it is no miracle it is ranked number 1.
Football is known by different names in different locations (Soccer in few nations); field football (particularly American football or Canadian football); Australian principles football; rugby football (either rugby alliance or rugby union); and Gaelic football. These distinctive varieties of football are known as football codes.
Soccer or football is worth unbelievable amount of money to various football leagues throughout the world mainly because of television rights. No other game can boast of such a big fan following and it’s predominant flagship event, the football World Cup, beats other sports to a pulp.
Needless to mention, its popularity is still growing in countries like India where the recently started ISL (Indian Super League) draws thousands of spectators from various parts of the country.
|Highest governing body||FIFA|
|First played||December 19, 1863|
|Team members||11 Mixed gender|
|Olympic Country/ Regin||Male (1900), Female (1996)
The number two sport in the world due to popularity, particularly in Asia, Africa, Australia, and the UK, Cricket is a splendid package of both entertainment and gamesmanship. Followed by more than 2.5 billion fans, this is one of the richest sport in the world.
Despite the fact that this game is played by less number of nations in the world compared to soccer, the popularity of this sport is undeniably growing in a multifold fashion. The East India Company and the British Empire were largely responsible for the growth of this sport.
The game of cricket owes its roots to the English but the popularity and the magnitude of its growth in countries like India is such a vital factor in keeping the game at the highest level of sportsmanship and competition.
|Highest governing body||International Cricket Council|
|First played||South-east England; 16th century|
|Team members||Mixed gender-yes(separate competitions)|
|Type||Bat-and-ball, team sport|
|Equipment||Cricket bat, cricket ball, Various protective equipment,
wicket (stumps, bails)
|Country or region||Worldwide but most prominent in Australasia, Ireland and Great Britain, Indian subcontinent, Southern Africa, West Indies|
|Olympic||No (Only 1900 Summer Olympics)|
Field hockey is one of the top four popular games in the history of modern sports. With two billion and more viewers, field hockey has made a mark since 3rd century establishing its supremacy in Asia and Europe as well.
The sports “Hurling”, played by the Greeks is considered as the father of this modern sport. Although this sport was renamed as “Field Hockey” by the English, Americans consider this as their favorite sport after football and basketball.
This sport was previously dominated by Pakistan and India and at present Australia and Argentina are the top two teams according to world rankings.
|Highest governing body||International Hockey Federation|
|First played||19th century|
|Team members||16 ( 11 on field ) Mixed gender Indoor and outdoor|
|Shinguards, mouthguard, hockey stick,
Asia, Europe, America (North and South)
|Olympic||From 1928 – today|
The game of tennis can be traced back to the courts of Henry and other royal patrons, who have helped this game to survive, develop and re-invent itself in its long glorious run as one of the most popular games. This game is a bundle of tradition and history put together.
As far as the origins of this game are concerned, there is no accuracy in the records available to us. Some claim it to be from France, and other mention it as Tuscany in Italy.
As time went by, this game became even more popular and its popularity started reaching far corners of the world, even in Asia for instance.
After the year 1877, the first tournament was held, and the set of rules and the rectangular court we are familiar came into existence.
With legendary tennis superstars like Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Federer taking the game to the next level, tennis has grown exponentially since the early nineties and noughties.
|Highest governing body||International Tennis Federation|
|First played||Between 1859 and 1865, Birmingham, England|
|Team members||Single or Doubles Mixed gender Yes, separate tours & mixed doubles|
|Equipment||Tennis ball, tennis racket|
|Venue||Indoor or outdoor tennis court|
|Country or region||Worldwide|
|Olympic||Yes, included in Summer Olympic program from 1988|
An extremely easy and simple game which barely needs any equipment other than the ball and the net, Volleyball has very few rules. As of date, around 900 million people are following this game and thus making it distinctly popular in the world.
Volleyball sport has reached such a phenomenal position today, which nobody would have imagined 100 years ago.
FIVB is the association which is heading this sport and the exponential growth of this sport can be rightly contributed to this organization.
The beach volleyball is the latest craze among every beachgoer and this has contributed immensely to the growth of this game for over a period of time.
|Highest governing body||FIVB|
|First played||1895, Holyoke, Massachusetts, United States|
|Type||Indoor, grass, Beach|
Indoor and outdoor court
Asia, Europe, America etc.
The only table game with a whopping 850 million fan following around the world, Table Tennis is a quick paced game, not for persons with slow reflexes. This game is more popular in Europe, Asia, and also in America.
As a mainstream sport, table tennis has made it big only in the last few decades. With China completely dominating this sport, table tennis has started to reach other pockets of the world in a grand manner.
Some experts believe that this sport owes its origin to the British. However, nobody can question the growing popularity of this sport.
|Highest governing body||ITTF|
|First played||1880s Victorian England|
|Team members||Single or doubles|
|Type||Racquet sport, indoor|
|2.7 g (0.095 oz), Poly, 40 mm (1.57 in)
From the stadiums and grounds to the stats, to the technology, baseball is terrific creation. The brilliant majestic red and white ball stands testimony to this fact. With its contrasting color and design, this sport has evolved into one of the richest money-spinning professions of all times.
With more than 500 million fans providing solid support, Base Ball is growing in popularity.
Baseball, in layman terms, can be understood as a bat and ball game. The evolution of Baseball is very difficult to ascertain, but as per records found in French literature, this game has its roots in Ireland and Great Britain.
Baseball is usually considered as America’s favorite sport. The majority of players come from American Continent.
|Highest governing body||World Baseball Softball Confederation|
|First played||18th century England|
|Type||Team sport, bat-and-ball|
|Equipment||Baseball, Baseball, bat Baseball, gloveBases|
|Country or region||Worldwide (most prominent in the Americas and East Asia)|
|Olympic||Demonstration Sport: 1912, 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1984, and 1988 ,Medal Sport: 1992–2008|
It is not surprising to note that some sports take so much time to gain more popularity as if the whole world has come to a halt, and undoubtedly, Golf is one of amongst them. The modern game of Golf is set to have originated in the fields of Scotland in the late 14th or early 15th century.
Having 450 million fan bases all around Asia, America, and Europe, Golf enters the 8th rank in the world’s most popular sport. There are lots of reasons for this sport to enter the elite club. This game is played in such a professional manner, and after cricket, this is the only game that can be considered as a” Gentleman’s Game”.
|Highest governing body||R&A, USGA, International Golf Federation|
|First played||15th century, Scotland|
|Equipment||Golf clubs, golf balls, and others|
|Olympic||1900, 1904, 2016, 2020|
One among the top ten popular sports in the world, Basket Ball is loved and followed by around 400 million fans across the globe. This game owes its humble origin to James Naismith, the Canadian physical education teacher, who popularized this game in the year 1891.
Now, America has adopted this game into their culture and daily life.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most prominent and broadly thought to be the largest gathering of expert b-ball players on the planet and NBA players are the world’s best-paid competitors by and large. Outside North America, there are top clubs which play this game to the highest level of competitive madness.
|Highest governing body||FIBA|
|First played||December 21, 1891; 125 years ago. Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Team members||5 per side Mixed gender Yes, separate competitions|
|Venue||Indoor court (mainly) or outdoor court (Streetball)|
|Country or region||Worldwide|
|Olympic||Part of the Summer Olympic program since 1936|
American football is a popular game with more than 400 million followers, a cross between Rugby and the association football. The American football was first played in the year 1869. Professional football and college football are two parts of this game, while this league has an annual revenue of US$10Billion (Ten Billion ).
Other than America, this game has the very limited following outside the continent. Moreover, the strength and support of the local Americans have catapulted this game into the list of top 10 most popular sport in the world.
|Highest governing body||International Federation of American Football|
|First played||November 6, 1869, New Brunswick, New Jersey|
|Team members||11 (both teams may freely substitute players between downs)|
|Type||Team sport, ball game|
|Equipment||Football (leather prolate spheroid), Football helmet Pads (shoulder and knee)|
|Venue||Football field (rectangular: 120 yards long, 53 1/3 yards wide)|
|Country or region||Worldwide (most prominent in North America, Europe, and Japan)|
|Olympic||No (demonstrated at the 1932 Summer Olympics)|