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Is Volleyball the World's Most Popular Sport?

What are the most popular sports in the world. You would think football/soccer, which most lists have as the most popular sport. However, here is one of the many lists of the world's top 10 most popular sports, as discussed by Johann and Sandra, which surprisingly has volleyball as the most popular sport. How did they conclude this? The ranking was based on the estimates of participants in the sport worldwide (based on 2002 figures). The data was provided by each of the International Sports Federations themselves, and so the method of counting participants may vary between each sporting federation. On their page, Johann and Sandra question the accuracy of some of the figures themselves.

This is the only list we have found that does not have Soccer/Football on the top of the list, and some of the ranks don't seem right. Dragon Boat Racing as one of the world's most popular sports? I don't think so. There are millions of people who play soccer in the streets around the world, but as they do not play in any formal competition they would not be counted as 'participants'. See the discussion of other top 10 lists of the world's most popular sports with our ultimate list.

rank Sport est. participants
1. Volleyball 998 Million
2. Basketball 400 Million
3. Table Tennis 300 Million
4. Soccer 242 Million
5. Badminton 200 Million
6. Tennis 60 Million
7. Baseball 60 Million
8. Dragon Boat Racing 50 Million
9. Team Handball 18 Million
10. Field Hockey 3 Million


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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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