Most Popular Google Sports Trends

In the quest to find the world's most popular sports, I have used the power of Google to find the most commonly searched sport names, using Google Trends. Website traffic was similarly used to find the most viewed sports pages on Wikipedia. For Google Trends, the figures are all relative, with each sport term ranked relative to the most popular (Football).

This analysis was done in 2010. Using search terms, you cannot be sure what the intention of the search was. The person searching for 'football' may be interested in one of the many version of the game played around the world. Therefore it is not surprising that 'football' was the most common sport term searched on Google, as it encompasses the universally agreed most popular sport Soccer as well as many others (Gridiron, Rugby, AFL).

Hockey, ranked in the top 10, may also refer to both Ice and Field Hockey. In some cases, where two words are clearly referring to the same sport, their relative search volume figures have been combined, such as for tenpin and bowling. There may be other sport names that may rank in the lower part of the list below that were not compared, but I am confident that I have analyzed words for all of the most popular sports. See limitations of this method below.

rank Sport 2004-2010 relative search volume
1 Football 1.00
2 Golf 0.86
3 Soccer 0.40
=4 Basketball 0.30
=4 Tennis 0.30
=6 Baseball 0.26
=6 Hockey 0.26
8 Cricket 0.24
9 Rugby 0.20
=10 Bowling 0.12
=10 Swimming 0.12
=10 Wrestling 0.12
=13 Boxing 0.08
=13 Volleyball 0.08
=13 Athletics / Track and Field 0.08
16 Cycling 0.06
=17 Lacrosse 0.04
=17 AFL 0.04
=17 Sailing 0.04
=17 Rowing 0.04
=17 Softball 0.04
=17 Skiing 0.04
=17 Badminton 0.04
=17 Triathlon 0.04
=17 Handball 0.04
=17 Table Tennis / Ping Pong 0.04
=17 Surfing 0.04
=28 Gymnastics 0.02
=28 Archery 0.02
=28 Rugby League 0.02
=28 Netball 0.02
=28 Ice Hockey 0.02
=28 Table Tennis 0.02
=28 Fencing 0.02
=28 Equestrian 0.02

Notes

Limitations

This method only notes the most popular search terms for sport names - and sometimes a single term refers to many sports (e.g. football) and sometimes there is more than one term that refer to a particular sport (e.g. athletics, track and field, running, sprinting). Only English words were analyzed, so the data is biased to those with internet access in the English speaking world, and those using Google to search online. The above analysis was based on a seven year period from the beginning of 2004 to the end of 2010, to account for any major sporting events that are held each four years (such as the FIFA World Cup, Olympics).

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