Top 15 Most Popular Sports in the World

Most Popular Sports in the World

Top 15 Most Popular Sports in the World

Fabulaes has compiled the list of Top 15 Most Popular Sports in the World. The popularity of sports differ widely depending on where you are located. If you are from Europe, you’d likely say ‘football’; if you’re from Asia, you would declare that it’s the cricket; similarly, a person from the Americas might answer basketball, baseball or American football. We calculated figures and statistics from a number of different sources and ranked the sports. The various figures and analysis tables can also be found on internet. So on the basis of that analysis, here is the Top 15 Most Popular Sports in the World.


15. Boxing


Boxing is placed on the 15th place in this list. In its various forms – professional boxing, amateur boxing, the various weight categories – boxing has carved an important place for itself in the modern sporting world.

Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves, throw punches at each other for a predetermined amount of time in a boxing ring. Amateur boxing is both an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport and is a standard fixture in most international games. It also has its own World Championships. Boxing is overseen by a referee over a series of one- to three-minute intervals called rounds.

A boxing match typically consists of a determined number of three-minute rounds, a total of up to 9 to 12 rounds. A minute is typically spent between each round with the fighters in their assigned corners receiving advice and attention from their coach and staff. The fight is controlled by a referee who works within the ring to judge and control the conduct of the fighters, rule on their ability to fight safely, count knocked-down fighters, and rule on fouls.


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14. Chess


An intellectual pursuit, chess has long been dominated by the thinkers and the strategists of the world, but that hasn’t made it any less popular among the common folk; it is one of the most common indoor pastimes across the globe.

Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. Played by millions of people worldwide, chess is believed to be derived from the Indian game “Chaturanga” sometime before the 7th century. Chaturanga is also the likely ancestor of the Eastern strategy games.

Play involves no hidden information. Each player begins with 16 pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. Each piece type moves differently, with the most powerful being the queen and the least powerful the pawn. The objective is to checkmate the opponent’s king by placing it under an inescapable threat of capture. To this end, a player’s pieces are used to attack and capture the opponent’s pieces, while supporting one another.


13. Golf


Golf finds itself at No. 13 in the list. Traditionally considered to be a rich man’s sport, golf has slowly started making its way to the masses too in recent times. Golf is a club-and-ball sport in which players use various clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible. The modern game of golf originated in 15th century.  The Open Championship, also known as the British Open, which was first played in 1860 in Ayrshire, Scotland. This is one of the four major championships in men’s professional golf, the other three being played in the United States: The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship.

Golf, unlike most ball games, cannot and does not utilize a standardized playing area, and coping with the varied terrains encountered on different courses is a key part of the game. The game at the usual level is played on a course with an arranged progression of 18 holes, though recreational courses can be smaller, often having nine holes. Each hole on the course must contain a tee box to start from, and a putting green containing the actual hole or cup of 11 cm in diameter. Golf clubs are used to hit the golf ball. Each club is composed of a shaft with a lance or “grip” on the top end and a club head on the bottom.


12. Table Tennis

Table Tennis

Table Tennis is Wildly popular all over the world as a recreational activity, table tennis also holds plenty of spectator interest in Asia. Table tennis is governed by the worldwide organization ‘International Table Tennis Federation” (ITTF) which was founded in 1926. ITTF currently includes 226 member associations

Table tennis, also known as ping-pong and whiff-whaff, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball back and forth across a table using small rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net. Except for the initial serve, the rules are generally as follows: players must allow a ball played toward them to bounce one time on their side of the table, and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side at least once. A point is scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules. Play is fast and demands quick reactions. Spinning the ball alters its trajectory and limits an opponent’s options, giving the hitter a great advantage.


11. Field Hockey

Field Hockey

Field hockey, or simply hockey, finds itself on 11th place. Hockey has for long been among the most significant sports in Asia, and has also gained wide popularity in Europe in recent times. Today, the game is played globally, mainly in parts of Western Europe, South Asia, Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and parts of the United States.

Field Hockey is a widely played team sport of the hockey family. The game can be played on grass, watered turf, artificial turf or synthetic field, as well as an indoor boarded surface. Each team plays with ten field players and a goalkeeper. Players commonly use sticks made out of wood, carbon fiber, fiber glass or a combination of carbon fiber and fiber glass in different quantities (with the higher carbon fiber stick being more expensive and less likely to break) to hit a round, hard, plastic hockey ball.

The governing body of field hockey is the International Hockey Federation (FIH), which is called the Fédération Internationale de Hockey in French, with men and women being represented internationally in competitions including the Olympic Games, World Cup, World League, Champions Trophy and Junior World Cup


10. Badminton


Badminton is the 10th most popular sport in the world. In addition to its popularity as a spectator sport, especially in South-east Asia, badminton is also played extensively all over the world as a recreational game. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is the internationally recognized governing body of the sport responsible for conduction of tournaments and approaching fair play.

Badminton is a racket sport played using rackets to hit a shuttlecock across a net. Although it may be played with larger teams, the most common forms of the game are “singles” and “doubles”. Badminton is often played as a casual outdoor activity in a yard or on a beach; formal games are played on a rectangular indoor court. Points are scored by striking the shuttlecock with the racket and landing it within the opposing side’s half of the court.

The game developed in British India from the earlier game of battledore and shuttlecock. European play came to be dominated by Denmark but the game has become very popular in Asia, with recent competitions dominated by China. Since 1992, badminton has been a Summer Olympic sport. The game has also become a popular backyard sport in the United States.


9. Rugby


This sport is huge in Oceania and parts of Europe, and is often seen as a more physical version of football or soccer. The Rugby World Cup, first held in 1987, is contested every four years. The Six Nations Championship in Europe and The Rugby Championship in the Southern Hemisphere are other major international competitions that are held annually. Rugby was introduced into the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and was added to the Olympic Games of 2016.

Rugby Union, widely known simply as rugby, is a full contact team sport that originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is played between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field called a pitch. The field has H-shaped goalposts at both ends.

The international governing body of rugby union is World Rugby (WR) which was founded in 1886. The WR headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland. WR controls the Rugby World Cup.


8. Volleyball


Volleyball makes its way to number 8 in the list. While this may not rank very high in terms of spectator interest, it is one of the most popular recreational games in the world.

Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team’s court under organized rules. It has been a part of the official program of the Summer Olympic Games since Tokyo 1964. International Beach Volleyball Players Association is the governing body for this game.

The ball is usually played with the hands or arms, but players can legally strike or push (short contact) the ball with any part of the body. A number of consistent techniques have evolved in volleyball, including spiking and blocking as well as passing, setting, and specialized player positions and offensive and defensive structures. Volleyball is essentially a game of transition from one of the above skills to the next, with choreographed team movement between plays on the ball. These team movements are determined by the teams chosen serve receive system, offensive system, coverage system, and defensive system.


7. Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

The sport is wildly popular in North America, specially in Canada, and is played in virtually every region on earth that receives snowfall. Ice hockey is most popular in Canada, central and eastern Europe, the Nordic countries, Russia, and the United States. Ice hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada.

Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in a rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent’s net to score goals. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams usually fielding six players at a time: one goaltender, and five players who skate the span of the ice trying to control the puck and score goals against the opposing team. Ice hockey is a full contact sport and carries a high risk of injury. Players are moving at speeds around approximately 30–50 km/h and quite a bit of the game revolves around the physical contact between the players.

North America’s National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest level for men’s ice hockey and the strongest professional ice hockey league in the world. The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) is the highest league in Russia and much of Eastern Europe. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is the formal governing body for international ice hockey.


6. American Football

american football

In 6th place on the list comes American Football. Arguably the most popular sport in the US, American football has a tremendous fan base in several pockets of the world. American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sports of soccer and rugby. It is not an Olympic sport.

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, the team with possession of the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with the ball or passing it, while the defense, the team without possession of the ball, aims to stop the offense’s advance and to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs or plays; if they fail, they turn over the football to the defense, but if they succeed, they are given a new set of four downs to continue the drive. Game is played between two teams of 11 players each. Playing with more on the field is punishable by a penalty.


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5. Tennis


Tennis is the 5th most popular sport in the world, and the most popular among individual sports. Played sporadically in almost every corner of the earth, tennis has always had a niche but size-able audience. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society and at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racket, including wheelchair users. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body worldwide.

Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent’s court. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Tennis is played by millions of recreational players and is also a popular worldwide spectator sport. Championships include the Australian Open played on hard courts, the French Open played on red clay courts, Wimbledon played on grass courts, and the US Open also played on hard courts.


4. Baseball


Baseball finds itself at number 4 in the list. By the late 19th century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objective of the offensive team (batting team) is to hit the ball into the field of play, allowing its players to run the bases, having them advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called “runs”. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.


3. Cricket


Wildly popular in Asia, Australia and Europe. Billions of people are “mad” for this game. Cricket is being played in three most famous formats; Test Matches, 50-Over Matches and 20-Over Matches which is also called T20. The game’s governing body is the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has over 100 members. It is generally believed that cricket originated as a children’s game in the south-eastern counties of England, sometime during the medieval period. The ICC also organizes competitions that are for several countries at once, including the Cricket World Cup, ICC T20 World Cup and ICC Champions Trophy.

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the center of which is a 20-metre pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player. Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground. When ten players have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches.


2. Basketball


Basketball is played extensively in America, Europe and Asia, basketball is extremely popular not only as a spectator sport but also as a recreational activity. The FIBA Basketball World Cup and Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament are the major international events of the sport. The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup and Women’s Olympic Basketball Tournament feature top national teams from continental championships. There are principal basketball sports with variations on basketball including Wheelchair basketball, Water basketball, Beach basketball, Slamball, Streetball and Unicycle basketball.

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender’s hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.



1. Football / Soccer

Football / Soccer

Played almost all over the globe, football unsurprisingly finds itself at the No. 1 position in this list. Football is one of a family of football codes, which emerged from various ball games played worldwide since antiquity. The modern game traces its origins to 1863 when the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association. Football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). The most prestigious competition in club football is the UEFA Champions League which attracts an extensive television audience throughout the world. The FIFA Women’s World Cup was inaugurated in 1991 and has been held every four years since, while women’s football has been an Olympic event since 1996.

Football or Soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of 11 players. It is played by approximately 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world’s most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.


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Written by Ana John

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