Most Popular Team Sports: Soccer & cricket ,basketball & baseball ???

Amrit Doley@amritdoleyContributor IMay 7, 2009

DENVER - APRIL 10:  J.A. Happ #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in relief against the Colorado Rockies during MLB action on Opening Day at Coors Field on April 10, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Phillies 10-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Most popular team sports:-Soccer the emperor, Cricket the king with a brigade of prince-basketball, baseball, rugby (union &league), hockey (field & ice), volleyball and football.

1. Association football: Soccer has the largest fan following in the modern world- ranging from north to south ,east to west ,rich to poor, young to old everyone love the beautiful game, which has Chinese origin discovered by  the English. It has fanatical following in Europe with 499.7 million population, South America; population 382 million, Africa; population 922 million, Indonesia ; population 230million and Mexico(109 million ),and has  abundance support in  the largest continent –second most popular sports in Japan ;population 140 million, China; population 1320 million ,India ; population1160 million  and figures itself amongst the top three ,almost in entire Asia . It is the de facto sports in 93 countries, has 208 member nations and counts its crazy fans in billions and thus easily, the richest sports. It has the largest contingent of die hard fans, players and professional leagues in the World’s largest economy, Europe. The English premier league and the Champions League are the most popular football leagues, with passionate fans of half a billion in 202 countries, where the matches are shown live. Manchester United is the richest club in the world with a valuation of $1.87 billion. The FIFA World Cup is the largest and most lucrative sporting event in the world. The 2006 FIFA world cup, with 64 matches amongst 32 nations with television coverage in 214 countries has a cumulative   television audience of 26 billion people, where the final game between defending champion Italy v/s French drew 700 million individuals.

Population strength: Played in 208 member nations, fanatical following as no.1 sports in 93 countries with combine population of 2 billion and amongst the top 3 popular sports in around 100 countries with 3 billion populations.

Economics: Its the world richest sports that can be played by the poorest of the poor. The domestic leagues in Europe have collective valuation in excess of $30 billion and the other various leagues add up another $10 billon. The FIFA World Cup can boast the host country’s economy by upwards of $10 billion.

2. Cricket : Twenty20 cricket, the three hour 20 over a side match along with ODI ;50 over a side and Test match ;the traditional form( up to 5 days) is the second most popular sports in the world. The English gentleman’s game is the most popular sports in the subcontinent which has 1.5 billion populations. Crazy fans with religion like following dwell in India; population 1162 million ,Pakistan (166 million), Bangladesh (162 million), Srilanka (20 million), Nepal (29 million), West Indies and the 20 million odd non residential Indians, that can be matched  only by soccer buffs of Europe and South America. It is amongst the top three most popular sports in Australia, England, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, New Zeeland, Afghanistan and Mauritius. ICC has 104 member nations with 10 test playing nations and cherishes the most popular tag in 20 countries. The ICC cricket World Cup is the second largest single sporting events in the world (3rd if Olympics considered), drawing a cumulative television audience of 5 billion people where a final involving India could draw up to 400 million individuals (considering India has 130 million television sets).BCCI is the richest sporting organization in the world with a valuation in excess of $2 billion, where they need not pay any taxes to the government. Indian premier league, a 59 matches Twenty20 tournament amongst 8 Indian cites, attracting 2 billion eyeballs is the most popular and richest in the cricket world where the average attendance figure (57,500) is preceded by only American football (67,000). India is the defending twenty20 world cup champion and Australia in ODI.

Population strength: The English national sport is the most popular sports in 20 countries with combine population of 1.6 billion, amongst the top 3 sports in 10 nations with a population in excess of 200 million.

Economics: India is the nerve centre of cricket economics with 75% of the global funding. Twenty20 cricket is the most commercially viable with IPL alone has a valuation in excess of $ 2 billion, though only in its 2nd year. BCCI is the richest national sporting organization in the world, who promises World cup 2011 as big as FIFA World cup if not better.

3. Basketball: The most popular  sports of Philippines, where dwells 92 million crazy fans is amongst the most popular sports in USA ; population 306 million, China( 1337 million),Russia(141 million), Argentina(40 million),Canada(33 million),  Germany(82 million), Italy(60 million), Spain  and Puerto Rico. National Basketball Association (NBA), with 30 teams having an average attendance of 17,500 per match is one of the richest and most popular basketball leagues and, arguably the most viewed and sought after American sporting events in the world, which attracts an accumulative television audience in excess of a billion. Induction of players of different nationalities to the NBA has ignited the general population to take up and follow the sport in a big way across various nations. FIBA world championship and Olympics are the major international events where Spain and the United States is the current gold medalist respectively.

Population strength: An American invention is the most popular sports in Philippines, amongst top 3 most popular sports in more than 10 countries with a combine population of 1.8 billion.

Economics: 90 % of basketball money is in the United States with NBA teams generating in excess of $3.3 billion in revenue. Chicago Bulls is the most popular and the richest club.

4. Baseball: The national pastime of the United States ,has cricket as its origin and  is the most popular sports in Japan; population127 million  ,Taiwan(23million), Cuba(11 million) ,Venezuela(28 million) and South Korea(48 million). It is amongst the most popular in the USA(309 million), Mexico(109 million),Puerto Rico ,Canada, Columbia ,Panama, the Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua  and Dominic republic . With 117 member nations it has passionate fans nearing half a billion mark and, arguable the richest bat and ball game. Major league baseball is the  premier baseball league and attracts the highest numbers of   attendance(79.5 million in 2430 matches) , by far the most in any sporting leagues of the world .New York Yankees is the most valued and popular club raking in millions to adhere the billionaire club .  After preamble of not so popular baseball World cup the international think-tank initiated the successful World baseball classic, a 16 nations tournaments with MLB players, where Japan is the multiple defending champion. Korea is the most recent Olympic gold medalist.

Population strength: Most popular sports in 5 countries with a population of 240 million, amongst  top 3 popular sports in more than half a dozen nations with 450 million population, and has fan base in 10 other countries with a population of about a billion.

Economics: Baseball is the richest bat and ball game with MLB contributing an average annual income of close to $6 billion ($6.5 billion in 2008) and the Japanese League (NBP) with a valuation in excess of $1 billion.   

5.Rugby union: An English invention ,out of soccer is a very popular sports in South Africa ; population  48 million ,United Kingdom; population 61 million, Australia (28 million), France(65 million), Italy(60 million), Madagascar, Fiji, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, ,Cook Islands, Romania ,Samoa, Tonga, Argentina  and de facto sports in New Zealand. It is also played in USA, Japan, Georgia, Belgium, Germany, Chile, Paraguay, Malaysia, Russia, Canada and Spain. The Rugby world cup, a 16 nations` tournament, is the 3rd largest single sporting event achieving average attendance upward 45,000 people and, an estimated television audience in excess of 2 billion individuals. The Six nations cup involving England, Italy, Wales, France, Ireland, & Scotland   and the Tri nation series( Australia, New Zealand & South Africa) are the major tournaments outside the world cup, followed by millions of passionate rugby fans. South Africa is the defending World champion where else Ireland is in the Six nations cup. International Rugby Board (IRB) has 103 member nations spanning across six continents.

Population strength: It is the most popular sports in New Zealand and amongst top 3 popular sports in more than 10 countries with a population of 300 million. It has a fan base in around 20 countries with half a billion people.

Economics: It’s a rich international tournament with a total valuation of about $2 billion with Lion’s Tour being a major contributor apart from the world cup, Six Nations, Tri Series and professional club leagues across Europe.

6.Field Hockey: The national sports of India and Pakistan, invented by the British  is

amongst the top five sports in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,  Germany, Holland( 6 times world champion) ,Australia(3 Olympics gold), South Korea , Japan , Argentina ,Malaysia  and England . Olympics and the world cup are prominent sporting events, dominated by India; winning 8 Olympics gold and Pakistan; winning 4 world cups in the early part of 21st century but lost its gloss in the later part to Australia, Spain, Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands. Passionate hockey fans are limited to Punjab regions  and Malaysia ,but has a consistent fan following across the world .The  Champions Trophy and the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament are other prominent field hockey tournaments .International Hockey federation(FIH) has more than 100 hockey playing countries . Germany is the current defending World champion and   Olympic gold medalist.  

Population strength: Though not the most popular sports in any nations, has a support base in more than 20 countries with a combine population of 2 billion. It is amongst the top 5 sports in more than 5 countries with 1.5 billion populations.

Economics: It is not a multibillion dollar game, with international matches contributing 90% of the global funding.

 7.Volleyball: The national sports of Srilanka is a very popular participant sports in almost all countries particularly in the United States ,Brazil, Canada, Russia, Italy, the Netherlands ,Japan, China, India, Philippines and Polland .Volleyball is a popular sports in south of India, North America, Eastern Europe and Brazil ,enjoying a surge in popularity in schools and colleges. The most important tournament is the Olympics with the USSR, Brazil and the USA are multiple gold medalist, amongst the 12 participating nations. FIVB is the international governing body with more than 150 volleyball playing nations, holds a world championship every 4 years. The United States is the current Olympic gold medalist and Brazil the defending world Champion. Another hugely popular version is beach volleyball which often rivals even the main sport.

Population strength: Every nations love to play volleyball in spite of not being the darling to any, amongst the top 5 sports in a dozen of nations with a combine population of 1 billion. It has a fan base in more than 150 countries.

Economics: Volleyball is a billion dollar sport played professionally in the United States, Canada and Brazil. It is also big in European markets.

8.Ice Hockey: Though a winter sport but now with the advent of artificial turf the sport enjoys popularity throughout the seasons ,particularly  in the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway , Sweden , Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Great Britain  and Slovakia where dwells a population of about half a billion. National Hokey League is the most popular hockey league and captures the lion’s share among all the hockey leagues, pulling an average crowd of 40,000 per match to the stadiums in the US and millions of television audience across Europe and America. International Ice Hockey federation with 66 members holds the ice hockey world championship where Russia is the defending champion, continental cup, champions’ hockey league and Victoria cup. Ice Hockey has been one of the major attractions in winter Olympics with Canada sweeping six of the first seven gold.

Population strength: Its amongst the top 4 popular sports in around 10 nations with a population of 500 million, has fan base spreading around 20 countries

Economics: Ice hockey is one of the major north American professional sports riding high with a valuation in excess of $ 10 billion in North America and another couple of billion dollars in Europe.  

9. American football: The most popular sport in the United States, having its roots in English soccer and rugby football is the beloved of more than half of its total population (306 million people). With over 200 million passionate football fans residing across United States, Canada, Japan, Caribbean’s and Europe it is one of the most popular sports sheer to its mass appeal and glamour. National Football league (NFL) is the richest sporting league in the world netting in $6.2 billion annually and is the world record holder for average attendance of around 67,700 which hits around a billion eyeballs. IFAF, with 45 members is the international governing body that overseas American football world cup where United States is the defending champion. Outside United States and Canada it is also played domestically in United Kingdom, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria, Mexico and Japan, the multiple world champions in 1999 and 2003.

Population strength: The most popular sport in the United states, in a country of 306 million people, has fans scattered around a dozen nations with a population exceeding half a billion.

Economics: NFL is the richest sporting league in the world with an annual average revenue in excess of $6 billion, where players are multimillionaires. Out of the 32 NFL teams 19 are billionaires thus making the total valuation in excess of $25 billion.

10. Rugby league: It’s the other version of rugby football played extensively in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, France, England and Papua New Guinea, where it is considered as national sports.  It is played in more the 30 nations, growing in popularity particularly in Europe and New Zealand after being crowned the defending world champion. Passionate rugby league fans dwells mainly in northern parts of England, Australia and New Zealand. National Rugby league, with 16 teams is the most prominent domestic league, and probably the most popular rugby football club competitions in the world, drawing in huge crowds across the grounds of Australia and New Zealand. In 2007 the NRL grand finale was amongst the most watched television show in Australia.

a)Population strength: The sport is amongst the most popular in more than half a dozen nations with a combine population of 170 million.

b) Economics:  It’s a multimillionaire game with its centric economics in Australasia.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.