5 Most Popular Sports in the World
June 14, 2023

All around the world, people engage in different kinds of sports, with each sport having different rules and guidelines as to how they are played. While sports are just a means to have fun and enjoy the moment, for others, it is a ritual, something akin to religion. Today, while there are hundreds of different kinds of sports, not all enjoy an equal amount of publicity and acceptance, with some having more promotion than others.


Criteria for Determining the Most Popular Sports in the World

According to sports experts, it is difficult to estimate the exact number of sports played in the world, given that new sports keep emerging by the day. However, there are generally accepted criteria used for determining the most popular sports in the world today. They include:

  • Sponsorship deals
  • TV rights deals
  • Global fan base/audience
  • Viewership on TV
  • The average salary of players across leagues
  • Access to the public
  • The prominence of sports on electronic and print media
  • Internet popularity

Below are some of the most popular sports enjoyed all over the globe:

1. Soccer/Football

Football has total followership of over 3.5 billion people. The game involves two teams of 11 players, with a spherical ball as the main object of play. The game is played on a pitch with two goal posts on either end of the field.

Players aim to score with any part of the body, save for arms and hands, as the goalkeepers are the only ones permitted to handle the ball with their hands. Soccer enjoys the most lucrative TV rights deals in the world, with FIFA, the governing body, securing over $1.85 billion in TV rights for the 2018 and 2022 world cup tournaments.

2. Cricket

Cricket has about 2.5 billion people in followership. The game is played between two teams of 11 players on a field; each taking turns to bat and score runs. The majority of cricket’s fanbase comes from India, while others are found in Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, England, etc. the game is regulated by the International Cricket Council (ICC), and TV rights for different tournaments are worth over several million in dollars.

3. Basketball

Basketball has over 2.2 billion followers. Most of their fanbase comes from the US, Canada, China, and Japan. Basketball enjoys a massive TV viewership, with the NBA selling TV rights for $24 billion for nine years. The game is played between two teams, where each tries to shoot the ball through the basket, and the team having the most points win.

4. Hockey

Hockey has over 2 billion fans, majorly found in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia. The game comprises two teams trying to outmaneuver a ball into their opponent’s post using a hockey stick. The two most popular types of hockey are ice and field hockey, each enjoying popular support. Field hockey is the national sport of both India and Pakistan.

5. Tennis

Tennis has an estimated 1 billion followers. The game is played by two individual players known as singles or two players, each known as doubles. Each player uses a racket to strike a ball across their opponent’s court, with the hope that the opponent does not play a good return. The major tournament of the sport known as grand slams command over 400 million in viewership, and the sport enjoys massive viewership on the internet.

While there are different kinds of sports in the world, some enjoy more popularity than others. We hope this post helps you discover and, perhaps, try out some of the top 5 sports in the world.