Sports play a big part in our lives and society. Whether competing or spectating, it is an almost daily occurrence for billions of people around the globe. And one of the best things about it is that there are dozens of games to choose from based on your personal preferences.
But which sports boast the greatest worldwide popularity? Let's find out.
It is estimated that over 60 million people play golf on at least a semi-frequent basis, while there are around 40,000 courses across over 200 countries, including courses on all populated continents.
In addition to being a game that allows men and women to play at the same time, the sport can be played from childhood through to your retirement years. Meanwhile, the popularity of the PGA Majors among TV audiences is one of the chief reasons that the prize pools are worth millions of dollars to the world's top players.
Technically speaking, some may state that baseball and softball are two different sports. If you count the male and female variants as one, though, its popularity is huge.
Major League Baseball was founded in 1903, making it one of the longest-running sports in America, which is also played by over 15 million people across the country. This is supported by popularity in a number of other countries, most notably Japan, while softball attracts both male and female teams in dozens of nations around the world.
3. Table Tennis
With an estimated 300 million players participating in the sport globally, table tennis is one of the most popular indoor activities. And that title isn't limited to the world of sport.
The sport has existed in its modern form for almost 150 years while it has become a dominant pastime in China and several additional Asian countries, where it attracts massive viewing figures too. It is a sport that most people have played casually at some point in their lives. For both participation and spectating figures, it stands out as one of the world's favorites.
When you include indoor volleyball and beach volleyball, the sport as a whole has close to one billion supporters while millions more play it. The global appeal makes it one of the world's most popular.
Volleyball is highly popular at the Olympics, with both the men's and women's tournaments drawing big numbers. At the casual end of the playing spectrum, girls and boys can play on the same court, making it a highly popular vacation activity. Professionally, the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) has members from over 200 nations, showcasing the sport's widespread appeal.
Football may be the big one in North America while the matches played in Europe are growing the global appeal. However, rugby is far more prevalent in terms of a global presence. Rugby takes two forms (rugby union and rugby league), which have different rules, while there is also a 7v7 variant.
Overall, it attracts close to 500 million people worldwide, boasting a huge presence in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, and South Africa. However, the growing popularity of the respective World Cup tournaments has seen the appeal swell in recent times.
It is believed that over 450 million people play basketball around the world while it is a popular school sport in countries across every continent too. High participation is only a part of the game's popularity. The NBA finals are watched by upwards of 30 million in the United States, as well as millions more around the globe.
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James are just some of the stars that became global icons from the sport. Meanwhile, there are popular leagues in Asia and Europe, while the Olympics tournament is one of the most popular team sports at the Games.
As far as individual sports are concerned, tennis is the most popular by far. Its doubles variant enjoys immense popularity too with men's, women's, and mixed versions available. Over 60 million people are said to play tennis on a frequent basis, while the global viewership for professional tennis is over one billion.
Both men's and women's tennis enjoys immense popularity in North America, Europe, and Asia with the likes of Serena Williams and Roger Federer boasting a global appeal. Meanwhile, wheelchair tennis is one of the most popular disability sports.
8. Field Hockey
In America, field hockey is a regularly participated sport during childhood, but the appeal ends there. Around the world, though, its appeal is far more extensive and extends to spectating. Field hockey at the Olympics is hotly contested by countries from Oceania, Europe, South America, and Asia.
The fast-paced sport is played in over 100 countries by males and females while it is an especially popular choice in India. While the popularity of hockey is supplemented by ice hockey in North America and eastern Europe, field hockey would be the world's third-biggest sport on its own.
While baseball is the far more popular game in America and Japan, cricket remains the biggest bat and ball sport by far. It has been that way for years and is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Cricket has an estimated global following of over 2.5 billion people thanks to its immense popularity in India, Pakistan, England, Australia, and South Africa. Meanwhile, even domestic matches in the IPL can draw a viewership of over 31 million. When coupled with the millions amateur players that play the sport, it is only bettered by one.
Soccer, otherwise known as association football, isn't only the most popular sport on the planet. It is streets ahead of any other and subsequently has a bigger impact on society too.
Over 1 billion people tune in to the FIFA World Cup final (for comparison, the Super Bowl draws around 100 million) while the sport is played in over 200 countries by men, women, and children. Its universal appeal and ubiquitous nature across Europe, Africa, and South America are quite incredible, while superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo are among the most recognizable faces on the planet.