Top 10 Most Popular Sports in the World

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It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population considers themselves an avid football fan. 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 with a huge following of fans all over the world. The rules and characteristics of these sports are dynamic and are governed by international bodies.

Most of these sports are included in the Olympic Games, where different countries from all over the world compete against each other. The sports are also lucrative industries, generating billions in revenue, especially in developed countries.

Without further ado, these are the top 10 most popular sports in the world.

1. Football 

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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. Ancient football can be found in China as early as the 2nd century. The Romans, Greeks and Japanese are also considered to be possible first players of the sport. Contemporary football began in England, where it gained great 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 that is defended by the opponent’s team. Not only is soccer the most popular sport in the world, some professional sports athletes are one of the best paid soccer players in the world.

2. Cricket

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Cricket has an estimated global following of 2.5 billion people and its primary area of influence is the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries. The cradle of the sport was 16th century England and it became 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.

3. Hockey 

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Hockey has an estimated global following of 2 billion fans and sees its main area of influence in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Contemporary hockey was first played in England in the 1800s. The game is largely similar to football, except that players use sticks to drive the ball instead of feet. The sport is widely played in India, Australia and Pakistan, whose teams are great in the sport.

4. Tennis 

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Tennis has an estimated worldwide following of 1 billion fans and a worldwide 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 by means of tennis rackets. Points are earned when the opponent does not throw the ball back in the predetermined dimensions of the rectangular court.

5. Volleyball

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The main influence of volleyball can be seen in Western Europe and North America, and the sport has an estimated global following of 900 million fans. The sport was invented in the U.S. in 1895 by William G. Morgan. He was a member 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.

6. Table Tennis 

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Table tennis has a worldwide influence and has an estimated 875 million followers worldwide. The sport began in England in the 19th century as a miniature version of table tennis on the sports field. The sport was generally described as ‘table tennis’. The modern sport consists of two teams of two to four players, using rackets to hit a light ball over a net on a hard table. Well-known world countries in the sport include South Korea, Sweden and China.

7. Basketball

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Basketball has an estimated 825 million supporters 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 of successfully shooting the ball through a hoop 3 meters from the ground.

8. Baseball 

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Baseball has an estimated 500 million supporters worldwide and is most popular in the United States, the Caribbean and Japan. The sport is a bat and ball sport involving two teams of nine players each, participating to earn points. Different versions of the sport were played in the US before it became nationally popular in the 19th century. From the US, the sport spread to other parts of the world and evolved into the modern game as it is played today.

9. Rugby

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Rugby has its main area of influence in the UK and the Commonwealth, and an estimated global 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, carrying a ball across the finish line, kicking or passing to score points.

10. Golf 

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Golf, gives an estimated global 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 where it spread to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.