25 Most Popular Sports In The World

Posted by , Updated on October 8, 2019

For thousands of years, people have loved to watch and play sports. From the ancient Olympic games in Greece to the Super Bowl, sports are an important part of the human experience. But, out of all the sports that exist, which are the most popular? Here are the 25 most popular sports in the world.

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WrestlingSource: http://www.softschools.com/facts/sports/wrestling_facts/796/

Wrestling, and no not the WWE kind, is one of the oldest sports, dating back 15,000 years ago. It’s popular in high school and collegiate settings all over the world.  In 1896, wrestling was named a “foundational sport” in the Olympic games.


Water Polo

water poloSource: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports-and-everyday-life/sports/sports/water-polo

Water Polo was invented in England and combines elements of many different sports into one. It grew in popularity all over the world and became an Olympic sport in the 1900s.


Table Tennis

table tennisSource: http://mentalfloss.com/article/72560/12-rapid-fire-facts-about-ping-pong

Though the International Table Tennis Association was formed in 1925 in Berlin, the sport really took off in China and other Asian countries. It became an official Olympic sport in 1988.



hurlingSource: http://montrealshamrocks.com/about/what-is-hurling/

Started in Ireland over 3,000 years ago, Hurling shares many features with Gaelic Football and is one of the fastest gameplay sports in the world. Hurling is primarily popular in English speaking countries like England, Australia, and New Zealand.



freestyleSource: https://www.factmonster.com/sports/ipka-and-a0771593/skiing

Originally, skiing wasn’t a sport but a form of transportation in the mountains. After the Olympics adopted the sport in 1936, it really took off and became a competitive and popular segment in the games.



badmintonSource: http://www.softschools.com/facts/sports/badminton_facts/788/

The first badminton club was started in 1877 but the game didn’t take off in popularity until the 1930s. It’s considered the fastest racquetball sport in the world with speeds reaching up to 200 mph (321 kph). Despite its popularity, it didn’t make its debut appearance in the Olympics until 1992.


Field Hockey

field hockeySource: https://hockeyperformanceacademy.com/10-fun-field-hockey-facts/

Originally called “Shinty,” field hockey dates back to the times of classical Greece era, but in modern day was popularized in Scotland. In 2012, it was the third most spectated sport in the Olympics.



mmaSource: http://www.mmafacts.com/index.cfm?fa=main.history

Mixed Martial Arts has roots all over the world in Taekwondo, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Kickboxing, and other styles of martial arts but was brought to the United States in 1993 to find the ultimate fighting champion. Many of the styles are Olympic sports.



bowlingSource: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports-and-everyday-life/sports/sports/bowling

Originally derived from a sport in ancient Egypt, bowling was popular in Germany before it arrived in the United States and became a major sensation.



handballSource: http://sportycious.com/handball-facts-91343/

The first international handball game was between Germany and Belgium in 1925 and is considered the second largest sport in Europe behind football.


Track and Field

raceSource: http://www.livestrong.com/article/120462-running-track-field/

Of course, like many sports, Track and Field finds its origins back to the Olympic games. It now is a very popular sport worldwide with people all over the world competing against each other especially at the Olympics.



lacrosseSource: http://brooklineyouthlacrosse.org/Page.asp?n=17368

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in North America and is played worldwide in Europe, Australia, and other countries.



robbie mcewanSource: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/top10facts/487354/Top-10-facts-about-cycling

Since its inception, the bicycle has grown in popularity with its continued re-invention. The first Tour de France was in 1903 and today around half the world’s population watches it on television which is about 188 countries.


American Football

saint olafSource: http://www.softschools.com/facts/sports/football_facts/577/

American Football is mostly a phenomenon in the United States. But it derives from elements of English sports like rugby and soccer. Despite being only popular in one country, the Super Bowl is watched by millions of people every year.


Formula 1

formula 1Source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports-and-everyday-life/sports/sports/formula-one

Formula 1 racers can reach speeds up to 230 mph (370 kph) so it’s unlikely they can point back to ancient Greece as the starting point to their sport. Either way, starting with the first Grand Prix in 1906, Formula 1 racing grew in popularity over time and has become an international sport.



baseballSource: https://www.infoplease.com/people/baseball-players/baseball-fun-facts

Baseball is another American phenomenon that’s most popular in the United States but has spread to other countries as well. The first world series was in 1903 and since then it’s grown to become a major sport.



boxingSource: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports-and-everyday-life/sports/sports/boxing

Originally, boxing involved no rules and bare knuckles fighting where someone was likely going to die but as time progressed, more rules and protections were put in place. Still, boxing remains a violent sport that has been banned in some countries. Despite that, it still draws large audiences.



rugbySource: http://www.softschools.com/facts/sports/rugby_facts/580/

Originating in England, rugby is also a particularly violent sport but is also one of the fastest growing around the world and in the United States.



volleyballSource: http://www.volleywood.net/volleyball-features/music-style/10-fun-facts-about-volleyball/

Invented in 1895, the first volleyball world championships weren’t held until 1949 and then introduced as an Olympic sport in 1964. It’s considered one of the most popular sports around the world next to soccer.


Ice Hockey

ice hockeySource: http://www.softschools.com/facts/sports/hockey_facts/569/

Original hockey may have derived thousands of years ago but modern ice hockey started in Canada. The first indoor hockey game was played in Montreal in 1875. By the 1900s, the game had grown extremely popular and is now an international sensation.



tennisSource: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/asia-and-africa/egyptian-history/tennis

Deriving from England, the United States adopted tennis early on and championed the sport with almost 17 million Americans playing the sport. While it ebbs and flows in popularity, it’s still a multi-million dollar sport worldwide.



golfSource: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports-and-everyday-life/sports/sports/golf

Scotland has the best claim to the invention of golf. Since its inception, it’s grown to be a multi-million dollar international phenomenon with people all over the world competing for prize money.



cricketSource: https://www.quora.com/How-popular-is-Cricket-in-the-world

Originating in the United Kingdom, Cricket is now an internationally popular sport in countries like India, Cambodia, Pakistan, and others. It’s also the third most watched sport with about 2.5 billion people watching it.



baseketballSource: http://www.livestrong.com/article/364098-why-is-the-game-of-basketball-so-popular/

Basketball is a huge sport around the world with over 200 countries play and competing against each other. More than 300 million people enjoy playing. With the relative ease of picking up a ball and shooting, it’s no wonder basketball has grown to be such a huge sport.



soccerSource: http://www.businessinsider.com/soccer-popularity-english-football-mls-2014-7

The enormous popularity of football or soccer is pretty common knowledge. Much like basketball, it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to kick a ball around on a field and its fun too. With the World Cup uniting hundreds of countries to compete against each other, the sport continues to grow in popularity especially in the United States.

Photo: 25. Simon Q, Olympic Freestyle Wrestling (66 kg – Gold Medal Match 1), CC BY 2.0, 24. Flying Cloud from Australia, Womens waterpolo world championship 2007, CC BY 2.0, 23. Wilson Dias/ABr, Table tennis Rio 2007, CC BY 3.0 BR, 22. Jeff Meade from Philadelphia, US, Hurling game Philadelphia USA 2007, CC BY 2.0, 21. 极博双板滑雪俱乐部, Freestyle skiing jump2, CC BY-SA 2.0, 20. Wilson Dias/ABr, Badminton Semifinal Pan 2007, CC BY 3.0 BR, 19. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 18. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 17. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 16. Steindy, FRA vs HUN (02) – 2010 European Men’s Handball Championship, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 14. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 13. anonymous, Robbie McEwen 2007 Bay Cycling Classic 3, CC BY-SA 2.5, 12. Caleb Williams for D3sports.com, 090926-Saint-Olaf-vs-Augsburg-American-Football, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. Morio, 2010 Malaysian GP opening lap, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. SecondPrint Productions on Flickr, David-ortiz-batters-box, CC BY 2.0, 9. SUNIL GROVER, Boxing jaa, CC BY-SA 4.0, 8. Sophia Rugby / Didier Honoré, Tag.Rugby.Play.01, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7. cdephotos, Volleyball at the 2012 Summer Olympics (7913876824), CC BY 2.0, 6. Ivanmakarov at English Wikipedia, Mike Brown (ice hockey), CC BY 3.0, 5. Madchester, London 2012 Federer-Isner Quarterfinal Warm Up, CC BY-SA 3.0, 4. LeeValleyRegionalPark, Lee Valley Golf Course, CC BY-SA 3.0, 3. Rae Allen from Brisbane, Australia, Muralitharan bowling to Adam Gilchrist, CC BY 2.0, 2. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 1. Neier, Shunsuke1 20080622, CC BY-SA 3.0

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