The exhilaration, excitement, thrill and suspense, sports brings is a testament to the wondrous effect sport has on humans. For centuries, humans have basked in the delight of fanciful entertainment, thanks to the unifying and enjoyable bond of emotional connection it has created in our hearts and minds. An instrument of socio-economic change, sports has done more than entertain us, it has helped build one of the most vibrant economic systems the world has seen. In some of the world’s most prosperous economies, revenue generated from entertaining sports activities has helped increase the countries economic growth. A testament to this fact, is the effect sport has had on the Gross Domestic Revenue (GDP) of the United States of America (USA), revenue generated from professional sports in the country accounts for 1% of its GDP, a wonderful acknowledgement of how sports has helped shape the face of the 21st century economy. No doubt, sports have enjoyed a good amount of attention from all generations—there exist various forms of sports and sports pundits have had a challenging time deciding in a conclusive manner, the top most popular sports in the world.
In times where the world has seen violence, sports has still brought smiles to the sad faces of the affected parties, as seen in the 1914 Christmas day truce, where both warring parties left all differences and disputes aside to enjoy a beautiful game of football, a very amiable and charitable gesture in the midst of so much violence. Based on global audience reach (TV views), online popularity precisely social media popularity, gender equality, endorsement deals and athletes salaries, we provide in insightful terms the top 10 most popular sports in the world right now.
10. American Football
American football, also known as gridiron, is one of the most popular sports in the world, but most of the fans are heavily concentrated in the United States. The Super Bowl helps in improving the popularity of this sport, with about 98 million viewers in the United States. The sports enjoys a good following on social media as well as receives tremendous support from top brands such as Verizon, Gatorade and Bud Light, in sponsorship. The highest paid American footballers receive as much as $78 million in salary as well as endorsements.
As an all-gender inclusive sport, Rugby is a sport that attracts as much as 6 million individuals worldwide. The just-concluded Rugby world cup in Japan gathered a lot of attention online as various countries make history and record surprising upsets. The most prestigious tournament in Rugby attracts the best names in the world of rugby as well as top brands who commit large funds in sponsorship. Brands such as MasterCard, Heineken, Emirates, DHL and Toshiba who sponsored the 2019 Rugby World Cup, help in building the popularity base of the game. Rugby players also earn a huge sum of cash, with the highest-paid player receiving as much as $1.4 million in annual income.
Baseball, particularly the Major League Baseball (MLB), the pinnacle of baseball leagues in the world, has about 500 million fans globally. In a test of gender equality, baseball is grossly dominated by male players and is sponsored by top brands such as Mastercard, Chevrolet and Papa John’s. Highest paid baseball players receive as much as $38 million yearly.
7. Table Tennis
Since 2003, table tennis fans has increased to as much as 900 million. Though table tennis events are not as publicised as other prominent sports tournaments, it enjoys a moderate number of following on social media. Brands like Autohome and Sports Master sponsor table tennis tournaments. Though earnings of table tennis players are not publicised, players certainly earn lucrative sums.
A sport which attracts as much as 900 million fans, Volleyball receives a great deal of attention on social media but is not really televised compared to other top-rated sports. Volleyball popularity among both genders is on the rise, making it one of the fastest emerging sports in the modern age. Brands such as Mikasa, Dick’s Sporting Goods support Volleyball events, while top volleyball players receive as much as $1 million every season.
A very strenuous and physical intensive sport, tennis is a sport where surprising upsets are not uncommon. The emergence of new talents in recent years has helped heightened the thrill in the sports, to the delight of the 1.2 billion tennis fans. Both tennis played by male and female recently attracts great media attention, which has caught the eye of brands such as Audemars Piguet, Rolex and TAG Heuer who pay tennis stars large sums of money in endorsement and sponsorship deals. Tennis players receive as much as $93 million in salary yearly.
Both Ice and field hockey are considered popular in the world, in the US and Canada, ice hockey receives a lot of attention, which is no different from other regions. Globally, about 2 billion people follow hockey especially the National Hockey League (NHL). The male and female hockey league also receives considerable attention from brands such as Gatorade, Reebok and others, are willing to sign sponsorship deals with these teams. The highest-paid hockey player receives about $16 million in salary annually.
A very popular sport in America, Basketball is one of the most talked-about sport currently. This is as a result of the fact that certain high profile figure in the most prestigious basketball league in the world, the National Basketball Association (NBA), have aired their opinion in support of protesters in Hong Kong. This has resulted in a loss of billion of dollars as a result of various Chinese brands cancelling deals with the NBA. This scandal which has shaken the world of sports shows how popular basketball is in every part of the world
Basketball is a game that is widely followed by about 2 billion fans globally. The sport also has it’s various female league’s worldwide which also attracts media attention. Basketball fans can attest to the fact that brands are willing to spend millions of dollars in endorsement deals with top basketball players. These deals sometimes have continued even after the player’s retirement, as seen in Kobe Byrant‘s Jordan shoe deal with Nike. The highest-paid basketball player receives as much as $92 million yearly.
Another popular sport with great global reach, Cricket is an amazingly popular sport followed by about 2.5 billion fans, majorly from countries such as Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand and India. The most followed competition in Cricket, the Cricket World Cup, last played in 2019 was watched by about 2.6 billion people. Though the
1. Soccer (Football)
Played by more than 270 million people in the world, soccer, also known as associative football is widely followed and celebrated especially in Europe. The most prestigious tournament in football, the FIFA World Cup was watched by a record number of 3 billion fans in 2018. Aside from that, every major football tournament from the UEFA Champions League to the English Premier League or the La Liga is widely followed on various social media platforms. While male football receives a lot of media attention, female football is not left out. As a result of the wide media-attention soccer receives, top brands such as Coca Cola, Qatar Airways, Pepsi, Nike, Puma and Adidas have signed multi-million dollars with football governing bodies such as FIFA and UEFA and top football clubs and national teams. Soccer players are often regarded as one the highest-paid athletes in the world, with the highest player earning about $127 million annually.
There you have it—Our top-10 list of the most popular sports in the world right now. Which sport/s did you expect on this list? Please share in the comment section below.