What is the most popular sport in the world ?
The exhilaration, excitement, thrill, and suspense, sports brings is a testament of its wondrous effects on humans. For centuries, humans have basked in the delight of fanciful entertainment, thanks to the unifying and enjoyable bond of emotional connection it has created in our hearts and minds. An instrument of socio-economic change, sports has done more than entertain us; it has helped build one of the most vibrant economic systems the world has seen.
The Most Popular Sports In The World
Fan Base: 450 Million
Golf has an estimated fan base of about 450 million people worldwide. The sport is most prevalent in North America, Western Europe, and East Asia regions. According to GOLF.com, about 441 million golf rounds were played in the United States in 2019 alone.Golf receives worldwide sponsorships from top brands such as BMW, Cadillac, Rolex, Adidas, Nike, and several others.
9. American Football
Fan Base: 475 Million
American football, also known as gridiron, or just football in the United States, is one of the most popular sports in the world. Most of the fans heavily situate in the United States. The Super Bowl helps in improving the popularity of this sport. According to the Los Angeles Times in 2020, the Super Bowl LIV scored 99.9 million views in the United States alone.
The games enjoy a good following on social media. It also receives tremendous support from top brands such as Verizon, Gatorade, and Bud Light, in sponsorship deals. As of 2020, the highest-paid player in the National Football League (NFL) receive as much as $78 million per annum in salaries and endorsements.
Fan Base: 475 Million
As an all-gender inclusive sport, rugby is a sport that attracts as much as 10 million playersworldwide. The just-concluded Rugby world cup in Japan gathered a lot of attention online as various countries make history and record surprising upsets.
The most prestigious tournament in rugby attracts the best names in the world of rugby, as well as top brands that commit significant funds in sponsorship.Brands such as MasterCard, Heineken, Emirates, DHL, and Toshiba, who sponsored the 2019 Rugby World Cup, help in building the popularity base of the game. Rugby players also earn a considerable sum of cash, with the highest-paid player receiving as much as $1.4 million in annual income.
Fan Base: 500 Million
Baseball, particularly the Major League Baseball (MLB), the pinnacle of baseball leagues globally, has about 500 million fans globally. In a test of gender equality, male players grossly dominate the sport.
Baseball attracts sponsorships by top brands such as Mastercard, Chevrolet, and Papa John’s. The highest-paid baseball player receives as much as $38 million yearly.
Fan Base: 825 Million
A trendy sport in America, Basketball is one of the most talked-about sports in the world currently. That is because specific high profile figures in the most prestigious basketball league in the world, the National Basketball Association (NBA), have aired their opinion in support of protesters in Hong Kong. It has resulted in a loss of billions of dollars as a result of various Chinese brands canceling deals with the NBA. This scandal, which has shaken the world of sports, shows how popular basketball is in every part of the world.
Basketball is a game that is widely followed by about 825 million fans globally. The sport also has its various female leagues worldwide, which also attracts media attention. Basketball fans can attest to the fact that brands are willing to spend millions of dollars in endorsement deals with top basketball
These deals sometimes have continued even after the player’s retirement, as seen in the LeBron James and Michael Jordan’s shoe deal with Nike. The highest-paid basketball player receives as much as $92 million yearly.
6. Table Tennis
Estimated Fans: 875 Million
Since 2003, the table tennis fan base has increased to as much as 875 million. Though table tennis events are not as publicized as other prominent sports tournaments, it enjoys a moderate number of following on social media.
Brands like Autohome and Sports Master sponsor table tennis tournaments. Though earnings of table tennis players are not widely reported, players certainly earn lucrative sums.
Fan Base: 900 Million
A sport that attracts as much as 900 million fans, volleyball receives a great deal of attention on social media. However, it is less televised compared to other top-rated sports. Volleyball’s popularity among both genders is on the rise, making it one of the fastest emerging sports in the modern age.
Brands such as Mikasa, Dick’s Sporting Goods support Volleyball events. Top volleyball players receive as much as $1 million every season.
Fan Base: 1 Billion
A very strenuous and physically intensive sport, tennis is a sport where surprising upsets are not uncommon. The emergence of new talents in recent years has helped heightened the thrill in the competition to the delight of the 1 billion tennis fans.
Both tennis played by male and female recently attracts excellent media attention, which has caught the eye of brands such as Audemars Piguet, Rolex, and TAG Heuer. These brands pay tennis stars large sums of money in endorsement and sponsorship deals. Tennis players receive as much as $93 million in salary yearly.
Fan Base: 2 Billion
Both Ice and field hockey are among the most famous sports in the world. In the US and Canada, ice hockey receives a great deal of attention, which is no different from other regions. Globally, about 2 billion people follow hockey, especially the National Hockey League (NHL).
The male and female hockey league also receives considerable attention from brands such as Gatorade, Reebok, and others, who are willing to sign sponsorship deals with these teams. The highest-paid hockey player receives about $16 million in salary annually.
Fan Base: 2.5 Billion
Another popular sport with vast global reach, cricket, is a fantastic sport followed by about 2.5 billion fans, majorly from countries such as Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand, and India. The most followed competition in cricket, the Cricket World Cup, last played in 2019 was watched by about 2.6 billion people.
Though the male-dominated cricket receives more attention, the women dominated cricket has been on the rise in popularity in recent years. Cricket also enjoys a good number of endorsement deals from various brands, especially bat making brands. Cricketers also enjoy huge paycheques, with the highest-paid cricketers receiving over 20 million dollars annually.
1. Association Football (Soccer)
Fan Base: 4 Billion
Played by more than 270 million people globally, soccer, also known as association football, is widely followed and celebrated mainly in Europe. The most prestigious tournament in football, the FIFA World Cup, was watched by a record number of 3.5 billion fans in 2018. Aside from that, every major football tournament, from the UEFA Champions League to the English Premier League or La Liga, is widely followed on various social media platforms.
While male football receives a lot of media attention, female football is not left out. The sport never fails to get extensive media attention. Top brands like Coca-Cola, Qatar Airways, Pepsi, Nike, Puma, and Adidas have signed multi-million-dollar deals with football governing bodies such as FIFA and UEFA and top football clubs, and national teams.
Soccer players are also not left out in the ranking of the highest-paid athletes in the world, with the highest-earning player making about $127 million annually.