It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population considers themselves an avid football supporter. Sports are practiced all over the world, whether as a hobby, a sports career, or as part of a fitness regime. Several sports have grown in popularity in such a way with a huge following of fans all over the world. The rules and characteristics of these sports are dynamic and governed by international bodies.
Most of these sports are included in the Olympics, where different countries from around the world compete against each other. The sports are also lucrative industries, generating billions in revenue, especially in the developed countries.
Without further ado, these are the top 10 most popular sports in the world.
10. Golf – 450 Million Fans
Golf, gives an estimated worldwide following of 450 million people and its greatest influence is in Western Europe, East Asia and North America. Golf is played by using different clubs to hit a ball, across golf courses, to get the ball into a hole with as few strokes as possible. This modern sport was first played in Scotland, from which it spread to the UK and around the world.
9. Rugby – 475 million fans
Rugby has its main area of influence in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, and an estimated worldwide following of 475 million people. The foundation of modern sport was laid in medieval England. From the United Kingdom, it spread to British colonies such as Australia and New Zealand. The sport is played by two teams of 15 players each, who carry, kick or pass a ball across the finish line to score points.
8. Baseball – 500 Million Fans
Baseball has an estimated 500 million worldwide following and is most popular in the United States, the Caribbean, and Japan. The sport is a bat and ball sport that involves two teams of nine players each, who participate to earn points. Different versions of the sport were played in the US before the sport gained national popularity in the 1800s. From the US, the sport spread to other parts of the world and evolved into the modern game as it is played today.
7. Basketball – 825 million fans
Basketball has an estimated 825 million followers worldwide and a global sphere of influence. The sport was invented by Dr. James Naismith in 1891 in Massachusetts, United States. He created it as an alternative to football because the sport could be played indoors and was less likely to cause accidents. The sport is played by two teams of five players each, with the goal being to successfully shoot the ball through a hoop 3 meters off the ground.
6. Table tennis – 875 million fans
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Table tennis has a global influence and has an estimated 875 million followers worldwide. The sport started in England in the 19th century as a miniature version of the sports field table tennis. The sport was commonly described as ‘ping pong’. The modern sport consists of two teams of two to four players, who use rackets to hit a light ball over a net on a hard table. Famous world countries in the sport include South Korea, Sweden and China.
5. Volleyball – 900 million fans
Volleyball’s main influence can be seen in Western Europe and North America, and the sport has an estimated worldwide following of 900 million fans. The sport was invented in the US in 1895 by William G. Morgan. He was part of the Young Men’s Christian Association as an instructor, and he borrowed from basketball, tennis, handball and baseball elements. The sport has evolved over the years into the modern sport, characterized by two teams of 6 players each throwing a ball over a net.
4. Tennis – 1 Billion Fans
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Tennis has an estimated worldwide following of 1 billion fans and a global reach. Different versions of the sport are believed to have been played by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, although the modern sport was first popularized in France. From France it spread to other parts of Europe and eventually to the whole world. The sport is played by two teams of one or two players each and involves bouncing a ball over a net using tennis rackets. Points are earned when the opponent does not throw the ball back into the predetermined dimensions of the rectangular lane.
3. Hockey – 2 Billion Fans
Hockey has an estimated worldwide following of 2 billion fans and sees its main area of influence in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Today’s sport of hockey was first played in England in the 1800s. The game is largely similar to football, except that the players use sticks to propel the ball instead of feet. The sport is widely played in India, Australia and Pakistan whose teams are great at the sport.
2. Cricket – 2.5 Billion Fans
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Cricket has a worldwide following of an estimated 2.5 billion people and its primary area of influence is in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. The cradle of the sport was 16th century England and it was made a national sport in the country in the 18th century. The sport is characterized by two teams of eleven players each, where each team tries to score the most points. The sport is overwhelmingly popular in former British colonies such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Australia.
1. Football – 4 Billion Fans
Football is the most popular sport in the world. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population considers themselves fans of football. The sport is followed by an estimated 4 billion people and has a global reach. The old football can be found in China as early as the 2nd century. The Romans, Greeks and Japanese are also considered possible first players of the sport. Contemporary football began in England, where it gained a great deal of interest and spread to other parts of the world. The sport is more popular in Europe and America than on any other continent. The sport is characterized by two teams of eleven players and two goals. The aim of the sport is to get a ball into the goal defended by the opposing team. Not only is soccer the most popular sport in the world, some professional sports athletes are among the highest paid soccer players in the world.