15 Worlds Most Popular Sports
Sports journalists have long been facing a conundrum of ranking sports. It is important that one sets the criteria for ranking first. If TV viewership of any sport is a criteria than the Beijing Olympics was by far the most watched with over 1 billion people tuning in. But TV viewership isn't the only criteria for sports popularity (see page Major World Sporting Events). The criteria used here are global base and audience, TV viewership and numbers, a number of professional leagues around the world, TV rights deals, endorsement and sponsorship deals, average athlete salary and top league, biggest competition and number of countries represented, social media presence, prominence in sports headlines on media outlets, relevancy through the year, regional dominance, gender equality, and accessible to general public worldwide. These are the factors that have been considered in ranking the top 15 sports in the world. So here is the countdown.
1. Football/Soccer - with 4 billion followers it is by far the most popular sport in the world. With all the criteria it makes football's popularity unmatched. It is called the beautiful game and has fans as Far East and west but nowhere on earth is the game more popular than in Europe. Football is one of the most accessible sports in the world and there's hardly anyone in the world that is not capable at some point. It is the most-watched competition in the world with 3.9 billion people tuning in for the FIFA World Cup (see more about FIFA World Cup). It also is the highest paying sports as it has 1.5 billion awarded in prize money. It has the most expensive sports TV rights deals and the English clap Premier E is the most-watched professional sport league in the world. It has the most professional leagues and the biggest sport kit deals and the highest-paid athletes. Real Madrid and Barcelona are by far the most followed teams of any sport on social media and Cristiano Rinaldo is by far the most followed sports athlete in the world (see more about Real Madrid).
2. Basketball has over 1 million followers and is becoming a baseboard in Canada, China, Spain, Philippines, Turkey, France and Germany. It has a second most number of professional leagues worldwide and is the third most powerful sports league in the world, which is the NBA. The average yearly salary for an athlete is 4.4 million a year and is the fastest growing sport on every scale from revenues, to competitions and leagues.
3. Cricket - there are 2 billion followers that may cricket a popular sport in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, Caribbean and South Africa. It became the third most watched sports competition in the world behind FIFA World Cup.
4. Tennis - a truly universal game and an individual-based game very popular across the world. Its four biggest events are called Grand Slams. It is the highest prize money in any individual sport. They have the most global calendar year and have more global venues than other sports. Wimbledon is not only the most prestigious tennis event but also 1 billion people tune in at some point. This is a sport with gender equality as Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are very successful women tennis players (see more about Wimbledon).
5. Athletics - this includes running, long jump and other track and field events. Usain Bolt was a most talked about athlete during the 2012 Olympic Games (see more about Usain Bolt). It is equally popular with both genders and most countries are represented in athletics. The hundred meter final gold-medal Sprint race in the 2012 Olympics was the most-watched ever event in Olympic history (see page Olympic Games History).
6. Rugby - Rugby is a major sport in countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It is in the second watched and attended competition and has a healthy social media presence.
7. Formula 1 - 550 million people tuning every year at some stage of the Formula 1 season. It is the most lucrative motorsport and Formula One drivers make around 5 million a year.
8. Boxing - boxing is a major sport in the USA, Mexico, Latin America, United Kingdom, Philippines, Japan, Russia and some Eastern European countries. It is the most-watched combat sport.
9. Ice Hockey - the biggest winter sport in the world and popular in countries like Canada, Russia, USA and Scandinavian countries.
10. Volleyball - one finds people playing the sport everywhere. Volleyball has more national federations and any other sport and it is most popular in developing countries.
11. Golf - golf is the eighth most famous game. It is massive earning potential.
12. American football - the biggest sport in the USA and the most lucrative and powerful professional sport league of all sports is the NFL, which generates over 10 billion a year.
13.MMA - mixed Martial Arts is getting more and more popular with the emergence of the UFC. It's a big sport in Brazil.
14. MotoGP - this is one of the motorcycle racing series that is highly followed around the world.
15. Field Hockey - field hockey is fallen from grace where it was most popular in India and Pakistan.