What Are the Most Popular Sports in the World?

What Are the Most Popular Sports in the World?

February 7, 2022

People have been playing sports since the first human communities were formed. Whether it be the various ball games which have existed since the ancient era, or combat sports like wrestling and boxing, or even the numerous racing sports such as horse and chariot racing which absolutely dominated the sporting world of Ancient Greece and Egypt, sports have been a part of our society for as long as we’ve had a society.

Through the years, hundreds, if not thousands of sports have come and gone, but which are the ones that have proven themselves against the test of time are still being watched and played widely today? What are the most popular sports in the world today?



Football is, by far, the most popular sport in the world today. With over four billion fans, it is almost twice as popular as cricket (the second most popular sport with 2.5 billion fans), and has more fans than the combined number of tennis and hockey fans.

Various kickball games resembling football have been played since the Ancient era, however, the game as we know it today was officially established in the mid-19th century, when Oxford University drafted the first ever official rules of the game of football. These rules have been changed and most are now obsolete, however, they are still an important document as they are the official starting point of one of the greatest and most popular sports in the world’s history.

Football is the most popular sport in all major continents but North America (where American football and hockey are the dominant sports), and it is especially popular in Europe and South America. European and South America clubs and players are some of the biggest and most popular clubs in the world, and national teams from these continents are frequently ranked at the top of the FIFA rankings. Some of the most successful national football teams include the Brazilian football team, which is often regarded as the most successful national team in the world, as well as, the Belgium team, the French team, and of course, the English team. The most popular football clubs in the world all tend to be European, with the most popular being Real Madrid and Manchester United from Spain and England respectively.

Footballers tend to be some of the most popular and highest-paid athletes in the world, and the sport is likely to get much bigger in the coming future. 


Horse Racing

While horse racing is not often touted among the most popular sports, it is, in fact, the second biggest watched sport in the world, simply due to the popularity of betting on horse races. Once upon a time, horse racing absolutely dominated the betting world, being the most popular betting sport in the world. However, once football gained prominence, it quickly supplemented horse racing as the most popular betting sport. In spite of that, horse racing remains hugely popular in the world of betting, taking the second spot of most popular sport to wager on.

Horse racing is also the oldest sport on this list, as the first horse races were held all the way back in Ancient Babylon. Evidence of the sport also show that it was popular in Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome, where it, by far, dominated the sporting world. Truly it can be said that horse racing has survived the test of time and is one of the most beloved sports in the world.

Due to its long and storied history, there are numerous kinds of horse racing, the most popular of which is flat racing. Flat race tracks are oval, flat, racecourse tracks, the goal of which is to display a horse’s speed and endurance. They can vary in length, with the shorter races being referred to as sprints, and the longer races being referred to as staying races. Other popular variants of horse racing include obstacle races, which are further subdivided into hurdle races and steeplechases, endurance races, harness races, etc.


Cricket, by sheer number of fans, is the second most popular sport in the world, with 2.5 billion fans worldwide. The roots of the sport can be traced back to children’s stick-and-ball games played in the late-1500s. The first written reference to cricket can be found in the 1600s, when two men were charged with shirking their Christian duties by skipping church on Sunday in order to play a game of cricket. Cricket, for a long time, was only played in England, until the age of colonialism, where English soldiers, merchants, sailors, etc., took the game with them to various countries on multiple continents.

Today, the game is England’s national sport, however, it has been overshadowed by football in its native country. Despite this, it is still hugely popular, especially in South Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc., where it is the most popular game, and where most of the best players today come from.

Sports Betting

Before we answer the question of what the most popular sports are, let us first take a look at the most popular activity among fans of sports. Sports betting is, by far, the most popular pastime of sports fans, and has been for centuries. The roots of sports betting can be traced back to the ancient era, when Romans would place bets on gladiatorial combat, or chariot races. Since then, of course, the hobby has evolved and changed drastically. One of the most recent innovations in sports betting is the invention of sports betting sites.

With the rapid development of technology, sports betting has become much easier, as numerous websites, such as Sportsadda have appeared all over the internet which keep track of scores, players, teams, etc. Most of these sites are the preferred method for people to get their news about their favorite sports.

Speaking of favorite sports… Let us now, finally, take a look at the sports that are favorite among today’s sports fans.

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