By: Eastern Eye Staff
Sport is one of the most popular pastimes for people around the world, both for playing and watching. Most people first get excited about a particular sport when they play it at a young age, while they eventually become even more interested when watching professional athletes play the same sport.
The popularity of specific sports around the world is dependent on many factors, such as the climate, culture, and success of local and national teams.
When you look at online sports betting sites, you can immediately see how games for certain sports are on the front page of most sportsbooks. That is because these sports are the ones that billions of people follow fanatically around the globe.
Below is a detailed rundown of the top five sports in the world, ranked based on their worldwide popularity.
The most popular sport in the world by some distance, soccer is called the global game for a reason. There are an estimated 3.5 billion people worldwide that follow the sport, ranging from casual fans to fanatics who catch every single game their team plays throughout the year.
One of the advantages of soccer over other sports is that it is truly global. While most of the other sports on this list have strong regional followings, soccer is huge planet-wide. Whether you are in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, or even North America, you are likely to find soccer fans close by.
The biggest tournaments, such as the World Cup, UEFA Champions League, European Championships, Copa América, and Premier League, often attract television audiences around the world in the hundreds of millions.
A sport that does not have too much of a presence in the United States and other parts of North or Central America, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, and this may surprise many people. Even though cricket has not taken off in America, it is the sport of choice in many countries that have huge populations.
Nations such as India and Pakistan live and breathe cricket, both on the local and international stage. There are countless cricket competitions in these nations, with a lot of money being pumped into the game as well. International tournaments often attract gigantic TV audiences that outstrip the record numbers for events such as the Super Bowl.
Cricket is also immensely popular in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Caribbean, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
A sport that has a massive base in North America, basketball is ranked as the third most popular sport in the world. Athletes such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are a reason why the sport grew in popularity around the world over the past 15 years, but Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson are also key reasons why many people consider themselves basketball fans.
Even though the most support for basketball does come within the United States, it is not strictly an American sport. Europe has a huge interest in basketball, especially on the international stage, while the sport is also very popular in Canada, China, and the Philippines as well.
The NBA, which is the top basketball league in the world, has been growing its worldwide brand to good effect in recent years.
Another sport that has a negligible presence in the United States or North America, field hockey is huge in other parts of the world. The entire Asian continent is obsessed with field hockey, as nations such as India and Pakistan have often won Olympic gold medals in the sport in the past.
Field hockey is also very popular in Australia, Europe, and Africa, with conditions in these countries ideal for players to participate in the sport for most of the year.
One of the reasons why field hockey is not so popular in North America is due to two sports: ice hockey and lacrosse. In some ways, lacrosse takes the place of field hockey in terms of popularity in warmer parts of the United States, while ice hockey is huge in Canada and the colder states in America.
A global sport that has given us countless hours of entertainment and some of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet, tennis rounds off this list as the fifth most popular sport in the world. Tennis is most popular in Europe, while it also has a very strong presence in the United States and Asia.
A significant reason why tennis is so huge worldwide is due to its star power. With individual athletes taking part in tournaments around the world, fans have come to adore stars such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
Even though sports like pickleball are posing a challenge for the playability and longevity of tennis worldwide, the sport still has more than a billion fans.