There’s nothing better than watching live sports! Whether you’re watching in person or with friends around a television, sports bring us together. It allows you to rally together around a common cause, watch impressive feats of athleticism, and entertains you for hours. There are hundreds of professional leagues to keep you enthralled, as well as amazing international competitions that foster a sense of national pride. As our world has become even more connected, our area’s unique sports have been spread across the world and create new fans and players!
So today we wanted to count down the top 10 most popular sports in the entire world, where they’re popular, and how you can watch them!
#10 – Golf
One of the oldest sports on our list, dating back to 15th century Scotland, is golf. It’s one of the most widely played sports in the world, and has gained a reputation as being a game for people of high status and wealth. It’s an incredibly strategic game that requires concentration, skill, and physical prowess. Golf is an interesting sport because it is played by so many amateurs and semi-professionals, but it is dominated by a few professional leagues such as the PGA, LPGA, and LIV Golf. These are world-wide leagues that travel for every event, meaning you can see it just about every corner of the world. There are also a number of enthralling international competitions such as The Olympics, Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, and more!
#9 – Rugby
If you’re looking for a sport that combines brute strength with strategy and on-field vision, rugby is for you. It’s a relatively simple game based on carrying a ball up and down a field with full-contact rules and limited protective padding. Rugby can be a violent sport, with many hard hits but it requires great teamwork and strategy to succeed. Rugby is an incredibly popular sport across the world, and continues to spread like wildfire. While there are some popular domestic pro leagues in countries such as Australia and England, rugby is immensely competitive when played on the international level.
#8 – Baseball
Roughly based on the game of cricket, Baseball is a uniquely American-made sport. The general flow of the game pits two teams against one another, taking turns between pitching and fielding a ball to defend and then hitting the ball and running a set of bases to score. It’s a relatively simple game that requires a relatively small amount of equipment. Professional leagues across the world dominate the sport, in countries such as The United States, Cuba, Japan, South Korea, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and beyond. There are some international competitions such as the occasional inclusion in the Olympics, but it certainly is not as popular. There are also a number of big competitions featuring youth baseball, such as the United States’ Little League World Series.
#7 – Basketball
There is something about watching a player dunk a basketball that scratches an itch that all sports fans have. Basketball is a fast-paced, skill driven sport that requires two teams of 5 to compete by shooting or dunking a basketball into a hoop high in the air. It’s a relatively simple game, while still involving many different varieties and types of players including shooters, distributors, dunkers, defensive specialists and more. It’s a massive sport here in the United States, with the NBA Professional League featured as the crown jewel alongside international leagues and competitions such as the EuroLeague and FIBA World Cup.
#6 – Table Tennis
When you think of the most popular sports in the world, table tennis might not cross your mind – but it should. It’s basically a shrunk down version of standard tennis, with 2 to 4 players returning volleys back and forth over a miniature hard court. The rules are almost identical to standard tennis, which make it very easy and accessible for just about anyone to play. While there are some professional tournaments and opportunities, most of the world is able to watch high level table tennis played in international settings such as the Olympics.
#5 – Volleyball
A high school gym class staple here in the United States, volleyball is a surprisingly wide-spread game across the world. It places two teams of six players against each other, attempting to hit a ball back-and-forth over a net. Hitting variations such as serving and spiking add some fast-paced intrigue to a game that really relies on team communication. Professional leagues are spread out across the world, but are more common in Eastern Europe and North America. Volleyball, and beach volleyball, are both featured in the summer olympics every 8 years.
#4 – Tennis
An incredibly popular game with roots back to 12th century France, tennis is a popular sport requiring tons of specialized skill and endurance. The general game revolves around using a racquet to serve and return a small ball back and forth over a netted court. There are a number of variations including singles and doubles, as well as grass or clay court. The ATP and WTA are the governing bodies of professional tennis, organizing tournaments across the world. Tennis is also highly featured in international competitions such as The Davis Cup, The Olympics, and more!
#3 – Hockey (Ice Hockey & Field Hockey)
When you say the word “hockey,” people from varying parts of the world will think of a different sport than each other, but ice hockey and field hockey are incredibly similar sports with a shared history. Obviously the ice hockey and field hockey variants have some completely different playing surfaces that alter the way the games are played, but the rules stay relatively similar. Teams of players use a curved stick to take a ball or puck along the playing field, and shoot it at the opposing team’s net, guarded by an equipment-laden goalie. Field hockey originated in the UK and has spread to many corners of the world, while ice hockey is a little more regionalized. Due to the technical constraints of having to keep a temperature-regulated ice surface, ice hockey is generally more popular in areas with temperate or polar climates such as Canada, the United States, Eastern and Northern Europe, or Russia. There are a huge number of domestic professional leagues around the world, and an impressive array of international hockey competitions such as World Juniors, the Olympics, Hockey World Cup, and more.
#2 – Cricket
The game of cricket was created in the United Kingdom back in the 16th century, and spread across the world as the British Empire expanded. It has a relatively complex set of rules, regulations, but the gameplay itself is easy to follow. Teams alternate either throwing and fielding a small ball at a set of wickets on defense, and swinging at the ball and running to score. There are two main scoring variations, First Class and Limited Overs Cricket, which were designed to simplify the game and cut down on its’ time. Countries such as England, Australia, India, Pakistan, and New Zealand have a very strong cricketing culture, complete with full domestic leagues that draw huge crowds and tv audiences. There are also a number of international competitions such as the ICC Cricket World Cup, Ashes Series, and Olympics starting in 2028.
#1 – Football (Soccer)
It doesn’t matter if you call it football or soccer, it’s still the most popular sport in the world by quite a large margin. Soccer is a simple game, with 11-player teams kicking, shooting, and passing a ball to set up shots on the opposing team’s goal. While the origin of soccer is debated, it quickly spread around the world – with just about every corner of the globe having a soccer community. It’s a very inexpensive game to play, with limited equipment, so it doesn’t exclude people from remote areas or lower economic situations. There are countless domestic leagues around the world, often pitting club teams from different countries against each other. While club play is popular, soccer truly shines on the international stage with events such as the World Cup and Olympics becoming national holidays in many countries. Soccer’s massive popularity is unquestioned across the world, and it only continues to grow!
How To Watch The Most Popular Sports In The World
If you want to watch all the most popular sports in the world, from cricket and tennis, to soccer and golf – DISH Network is the choice for you. They have a truly impressive amount of top sports channels for you to use, from huge sport networks like ESPN, CBS, and NBCSN. Whether you’re a club soccer fan or college volleyball fanatic, DISH Network has you covered.