Most Popular Wikipedia Sports Pages
It is very difficult to determine what are the world's most popular sports, due to the lack of suitable and reliable statistics. In addition, there is no single definition of popular that has been applied to the lists that have been made previously - by popular do they mean most played, most watched or some other definition? The method used here is to look at popularity in terms of which sports information pages people view online.
Below is a list of the most viewed sports pages on Wikipedia, the largest and most visited information website online. I have used a technique inspired by that used by the mostpopularsports.net website, which used the analysis of visitors to range of sports websites. I have also used a similar method to compare Google search traffic for sport names. The table below uses page traffic data for Wikipedia pages for a three year period from the start of 2008 to the end of 2010, derived from Wikipedia article traffic statistics. There may be other sports that may rank in the lower part of the list below that were not compared, but I am confident that I have analyzed all of the most popular sports. See also the comparison of internet traffic to the sports sections of the IOC website.
The highest single ranked sport page is basketball, however due to the way the stats are counted it is really not the true most popular sport. Many world football fans in the US would search for 'Soccer', and on Wikipedia they would be redirected to the 'Association Football' page. The page first accessed is counted, so the stats are split between the two pages. Therefore I have combined the stats for the two pages (Association Football and Soccer), and the combined average visitor number is now ranked highest.
Major world sporting events were clearly affecting the stats. During the Olympics in 2008, sports like Gymnastics had a spike in views, and the FIFA World Cup in 2010 had a significant effect on Soccer page views. You can see that in 2010 the average daily views of the Soccer/Assoc Football pages was much higher than the average of the years 2008-2010. There seems to be a large amount of sports popular in North America high on this list, possibly due to the high number of US traffic the English Wikipedia site. See more limitations of this method below.
|rank||Sport Page Name||2008-2010 average daily visitors||2010 stats only|
|1||Association Football + Soccer||8407 (6344 + 2063)||14766 (12800 + 1966)|
|19||Australian Rules Football||1396||2111|
Other sports which did not make it onto the list above include: Athletics (Sport) (914/1371), Rowing (Sport) (791), Swimming (Sport) (647/1349), Track and Field (620), Water polo (978), Ten-Pin Bowling (832), Dragon Boat (409), Bicycle Racing (153), Sailing (Sport) (13).
- 'Track and Field' (620 ave) is listed as a subtopic of 'Athletics (Sport)' (914 ave)
- Bicycle Racing (153 ave) is much less than the general page Cycling (823)
- Sailing (Sport) (13 ave) is much less than the general page about Sailing (932 ave)
This method only notes the most popular pages - the number of page visitors can depend on the quality of the page information, search engine rankings and strength of competing websites. It also does not take into consideration internet traffic to other pages for that sport e.g. accessing the Wikipedia Super Bowl page does not affect the American Football page stats. Also, Wikipedia uses page redirects, for example Soccer redirects to Association Football, and the page originally accessed is counted so stats are split between each page. Only English pages were analyzed, so the data is biased to those with internet access in the English speaking world. The above analysis was based on the whole of 2008, 2009 and 2010 years (2007 was not available), to avoid the effect of major sporting events held every four years (such as the FIFA World Cup, Olympics). Just the stats from 2010 are also shown for comparison.