The 10 Most Popular Sports In The World

Sport is currently one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide. With thousands of options to choose from, a select few sports pull ahead as the most obvious favorites. 

First, a few fun facts:

  • The oldest known sport is wrestling
  • The Sport Industry worldwide is estimated to be worth over $1 Trillion
  • Tiger Woods was the first sport-star to earn $1 Billion
  • Equestrian events allow competition between sexes
  • As of 2014, Team Figure Skating is an Olympic Sport
  • There’s a growing market for senior citizen friendly sports

Football/Soccer

Annual Revenue: $28 Billion

This sport has over 3 billion fans worldwide, many of whom follow it with almost religious fervor. Events like the World Cup draw in massive amounts of revenue for it’s governing body FIFA and elevate players to super-star status. David Beckham parlayed his soccer success into a net worth of $300 Million.

Cricket

Annual Revenue: $312 Million

While this sport never caught on in America it has a devoted following in most of the rest of the English speaking world having been spread during colonial times. It boasts approximately 2.5 Billion fans. One of the most successful cricketers of all time, Mahindra Singh, has a net worth of $30 Million.

Basketball

Annual Revenue: $5 Billion

Where many of the tallest athletes can be found, basketball has a little over two billion fans. Most of these are from North America and some parts of Asia. With a strong history of endorsement deals, basketball players are often well paid. One of the wealthiest, Kobe Bryant, is worth an estimated $220 Million.

Hockey

Annual Revenue: $3.3 Billion

Although made up of what could credibly be argued are two separate sports, hockey on both the field and ice commands a following of approximately 2 billion fans. Predictably fans in warmer climates favor field hockey while those in colder climates prefer the ice version. The sport’s wealthiest athlete to date is Jaromir Jagr with a net worth of $118 million.

Tennis

Annual Revenue:

Both the single and double versions of tennis have amassed a following of about 1 billion fans worldwide. The male and female leagues have comparable fans and endorsement opportunities which is rare in the sporting world. The world’s wealthiest male player, Roger Federer, has a net worth of $180 Million. The world’s wealthiest female player, Serena Williams, boasts a net worth of $100 Million.

Volleyball

Annual Revenue: 

Another popular team sport, volleyball has approximately 900 Million fans. It comes in beach, water and indoor varieties. Women’s volleyball is actually the significantly more popular version. Volleyball’s wealthiest athlete is Gabrielle Reece with a net worth of $10 Million.

Table Tennis/Ping Pong

Annual Revenue:

This sport is played on a board rather than a court. Its fans number approximately 860 Million worldwide. The wealthiest table tennis player to date is Zhang Jike with a net worth of $1.6 Million.

Baseball

Annual Revenue: $7.5 Billion

America’s national pastime boasts about 500 Million fans worldwide. Its popularity may not be as high as it once was but its remaining fans are dedicated. The sport’s richest player is Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees with a net worth if $300 Million. 

American Football

Annual Revenue: $9 Billion

Unlike soccer, this hand based game has approximately 400 Million fans, the majority of which hail from the United States. Its popularity extends from the college level to the professional leagues. American football’s richest active player is Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. His net worth is estimated at $125 Million.

Rugby

Annual Revenue: $780 Million

The list ends with rugby which boasts 390 Million fans. The majority of these fans are located in France, England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The richest rugby player is currently Johnny Wilkinson of Toulon. His net worth stands at $23 Million.

With this much revenue on the line, sports go far beyond enjoyment and into the realm of big business. Competition for the top spots may be fierce but the many millionaires and even a few billionaires who owe their fortune to sport show that it is indeed possible.

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References:

Forbes (The ultimate site for billionaire rankings)

CelebrityNetWorth (The ultimate site for net worth of celebrities)

TheRichest (Great site for things about money and rich people)

Wikipedia (Greatest site on earth for lots of information)