The 20 Most Popular Sports In The World

From 20th to 1st - Cycling

From 20th to 1st - Cycling

Of course, the Tour de France is one of the planet's biggest sporting events and pushes the fan numbers up. Perhaps the controversy surrounding doping keeps them in check.

Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

Or simply "hockey" as many of you in North America would refer to it as. In Canada, it's the number one sport and in the top four in the USA, as well as being the 2nd most-watched sport in Russia.



Athletics

Athletics

It's guys like Usain Bolt who maintain the superstar status of track and field, keeping it in the common consciousness in countries across the globe.

Snooker

Snooker

Perhaps this is a bit of a surprise for some, as it hardly seems like the most action-packed spectator sport. Players from Great Britain and China(or perhaps Australia and Canada) tend to be among the world's best.



Moto GP

Moto GP

There are two motorsport entries in the top 20 sports in the world (we bet you can already guess the other, more popular of them).

Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Arts

MMA has been on the climb for quite some time now. The past few years have seen the rise of some serious global superstars, and we reckon that it could be a few places higher in the coming years.



Badminton

Badminton

Again, perhaps this is a surprise entry for many, however, not for those who live in Asian countries where the sport enjoys massive popularity.

Boxing

Boxing

Boxing is that classic toe-to-toe sport and it's no secret that the most successful are among the highest earners in world sport. Floyd Mayweather Jr is the highest earner in boxing history with a few other guys like Manny and Iron Mike who would join him in a list of 20 top earning sports stars of all time.



Rugby*

Rugby*

That asterisk denotes the fact that we've included both rugby union and rugby league under the same banner. Not because they're the same sport (despite sharing more recent origins than many of the other types of football) but because many people outside the UK, Australia and New Zealand, seem to have a problem acknowledging that there are actually huge differences.

To be fair, rugby union (which is colloquially just called "rugby" most of the time) is more popular overall with players and fans primarily in the UK, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, while rugby league ("league") is really only taken seriously in the north of England, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Formula 1

Formula 1

These guys get paid quite well too and it's no wonder when you consider the popularity of the sport around the world. The famous German, Michael Schumacher, is one of the highest earning sportsmen ever.



American Football

American Football

It's interesting that American football should be higher on the list than rugby when we consider that it is confined to one country, however, that only goes to show how seriously and widely it is followed, not just in the United States, but by fans abroad too. It's believed the sport has around 400 million followers around the world.

Golf

Golf

For many observers, this sits alongside snooker and watching paint dry when it comes to spectator sports, but the planet is awash with gold-mad gurus. Perhaps golf is the odd one out on this list in that the ratio of people who take part when compared to the pros is a lot more even than the others.

Supposedly, there are around 450 million golf nuts in the world.



Baseball

Baseball

Baseball enjoys a fan base of about half a billion, not just in the USA of course (hopefully you did the math on that one) but it is especially popular in Japan too, as well as other parts of Asia.

Table Tennis

Table Tennis

Again, it's one of those sports (like badminton) that may have slipped under the radar a little in the Western world. But let's just say this; there are a lot of people in China, and the rest of Asia for that matter.



Volleyball

Volleyball

Volleyball is popular everywhere (although maybe the beach variety trumps the indoor type in places like Australia and Brazil) and estimated followers of the game number an incredible 900 million.

Basketball

Basketball

What more do we need to say beyond the three letter N-B-A? The NBA enjoys followers around the globe and plays a huge role in ensuring that regional competitions are everywhere.



Tennis

Tennis

As with a lot of sports enjoyed around the world (many of which are on this list), we can thank the English for this one. It is an individual sport, of course, but there are about 1 billion tennis fans on the planet.

Field Hockey

Field Hockey

This one might be a surprise, especially to those of you in North America. It's believed that around 2 billion people get in to field hockey. It's popular in the former English colonies of Australia and India, as well as parts of Europe and Africa, and Asia.



Cricket

Cricket

There are many people throughout the Americas, most of Asia, most of Europe, and most of Africa, who will associate the word "cricket" with an insect, however, it enjoys world sports second largest following.

Cricket playing nations include Australia, England, South Africa, Jamaica and the West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and of course, India. In fact, much of cricket's following of around 2.5 billion people call India home.

During the 2015 World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand, a dead rubber pool match between India and Pakistan (both teams had already qualified for the finals) in Adelaide, Australia, is estimated to have had about 1 billion television viewers for that single match.

Football/Soccer

Football/Soccer

There will be many people who read the term "soccer" and get on their high horse about how it's not called "soccer", it's called "football"!!! The problem with that is that there are many parts where, to save the confusion and ambiguity, they call it "soccer". So the purists might just have to deal with it!

Either way, football is easily the most followed sport on the planet and is played all over it. It's though that the sport enjoys a healthy following of around 3.5 billion!