The World's Most Popular Sport is Soccer / Football
Questions about what is the world's most popular sports is often asked and possibly has never been definitively determined. A quick search online found many references to the top sports of the world, and soccer / association football is nearly always on top no matter what the criteria for the list.
What Does Popular Mean?
The problem with listing the world's most popular sports is coming up with a clear defining meaning for popular. By popular, do you mean most watched, the most played, or the most talked about! Just some of the factors which could help determine the lists of popular sports include the number of spectators, the number of registered participants, the number of national associations, the number of people that play the game, stadiums and facilities worldwide, tournaments held all over, and merchandise sold. Many of these should be factors in a list of the world's top sports, though it would be difficult to combine them into a single list (hence the many popular sport lists).
Soccer is King
Most of the lists we have seen, whether based on most fans or most participants or whatever the definition of popular, World Football / Soccer is top of the list. Depending on what criteria you use for popularity, the next sports in the list may include basketball, cricket, volleyball, baseball and other versions of football (American, rugby).
Most Watched (Most Fans) Sports
Watching sport can include watching live, on TV and even online. Most information points to the most watched sport as football (soccer), though using online audiences can be biased with regional differences in support for certain sports (e.g. US sports such as basketball, baseball and American football). Another sport that is viewed in high numbers around the world is cricket, despite not being played in many parts of the world. See more about the most watched sports.
Most Played Sports
When discussing popular sports around the world, the sports most played is often considered, not just what people like to watch (there is a difference). Soccer is played in the streets by millions of kids worldwide, though they are not always counted on the most played sports lists as they do not participate in organized games and are not easily counted. Using official figures, sports such as Volleyball and Table Tennis have very high participation rates. See more about the most played sports.
Other Sports Popularity Lists
- Most Viewed Online — a popular sports list based on the analysis of sport page views on Wikipedia.
- Most Searched — the most commonly searched sport names on Google.
- Most Popular Olympic Sports — analyzing sports article publications during the Olympics.
- Most Widely Played Sports — finding which sports are played in most countries.
- Olympic Website Views — a popular sports list based on the traffic to the IOC website.
- Meta-List — a comparison of all top 10 lists found online to find the most common of the most popular.
- Most Popular Sports Pages on Topend Sports — the most visited sports pages on this site.
- Most popular sports in the major regions of the world — using data of the number of National Federations.
- Most Popular Online Searches per Country — top sports search terms in each country.
- Sports Spectators in Australia — sporting attendance figures from the ABS.
- Other — some other lists that have been published online
What do you think?
Now that you have seen a few lists of the world's most popular sports, based on various criteria, why not be part of another list. There is a difference in the world between sports that people like to play and those who like to watch. It will be interesting to see how these lists differ, and how they relate to the other lists above. As with most online polls, my list will be biased to the site visitors, which are not a true even representation of the world's regions or age groups.