World sports and the sporting industry in the last decade has evolved into a global industry ranking in billions of dollars in revenue.
Some mega sporting events and festivals have become massively popular in recent times and never cease to draw up crowds in the millions and even billions of viewers worldwide.
Let’s find out which world sports tops the list of the 10 most popular sports in the world today.
10. Football: 390 Million Fans
Originating from the United States, football was originally conceived as a mix of association football (soccer) and Rugby football played between college teams. The first game was played on November 6th, 1869 by two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton and by 1873, the sport became popularly spread across other Ivy League Universities.
Today, football is played by over a million college and high school players, and the professional game has spread globally. The Super Bowl, the annual NFL championship final, is one of the most viewed sporting events globally. In 2016, the Super Bowl final was the third most watched sporting event in history, with an average of 116 million viewers.
9. Basketball: 400 Million Fans
Basketball, a game which started in 1891 by a Canadian Doctor, James Naismith has since gained popularity beyond the US and Canada to become a global sport.
It became massively popular in the 1920’s with the Basketball Association of America (BAA) first game played in Toronto, Ontario, between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers. In recent years, basketball is played globally and has become very popular in many Eastern European countries, gaining an international following of over 400 million fans.
8. Golf: 450 Million Fans
Although golf’s origins are a bit hazy, some have traced the roots of the sport back to the Roman game of Paganica. Then, the player used a bent stick to hit a leather ball.
Golf, as we know it today, was first played in Scotland in the fifteenth century. The game of golf has gained wide popularity and acceptance in many parts of Europe, North America, and the United States; it is played and followed by people in more than half of the 35 thousand courses that exist around the World.
7. Baseball: 500 Million Fans
The 7th most popular world sports is baseball. It is believed to have been brought to the United States by immigrants from Europe as a variation of the English game of rounder. Baseball is the national sport of the United States, Venezuela, and several South American countries.
It holds a special place in American history and has been instrumental in spurring the American love of sporting events, in particular, the Little League Baseball organization. Although the popularity has grown dramatically in parts of Europe throughout the last few decades, it is most popular in North and South America. Baseball has a global followership of about 500 million fans.
6. Table Tennis: 850 Million Fans
Over the last few years, the popularity of table tennis as one of the top world sports has grown tremendously. The game which began as an after-dinner game played by the upper classes in Victorian England soon caught on amongst residents of British territories.
Originally called ‘Whiff-Whaff’, it later became known as Ping-Pong and Table Tennis. The popularity of table tennis spread beyond the shores of Europe in the 1930’s into parts of Asia, and China in particular where it had a fanatical following.
The passion for table tennis by the Chinese has led to the country dominating the sport in international competitions in recent years. Most of the 850 million fans who follow table tennis are mainly located in China and other countries in South East Asia.
5. Volleyball: 900 Million Fans
The number 5 position on the most popular world sports list is held down by volleyball. Four years after the invention of Basketball in 1895, ‘Mintonette’ as it was formerly known was designed as an indoor sport requiring less physical activity than Basketball.
Over the last decade, the sport has become particularly popular in Russia and Eastern Europe. Men’s volleyball was introduced officially at the Olympics in 1964 and its popularity led to Beach volleyball becoming an Olympic sport in 1996. Volleyball has a massive 900 million fans across the world and is mostly enjoyed by older players who wish to stay fit.
4. Tennis: 1 Billion Fans
Emerging as the top 4 most popular world sport, tennis began way back in the 12th Century in Northern France. Modern day tennis was designed in Birmingham, England  and the first tennis club was founded in 1872.
The Worlds oldest tennis competition, the annual Wimbledon Championships, began in 1874, and its fame has since crossed the Atlantic into the Americas. Tennis is a global sporting activity played by folks from all walks of life with top players winning millions in prizes and lucrative sponsorship deals.
Popular tennis tournaments like the US Open, Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, attract millions of viewers every year. Globally, the sport is followed by 1 billion fans.
3. Field Hockey: 2 Billion Fans
Although not as popular in Africa as in other continents, field hockey, inaugurated as an Olympic sport in 1908, has been dominated by India and Pakistan up until 1968.
The sport was played right from the middle ages in The Netherlands, Scotland, and England, growing in popularity amongst the English public school system in the 19th century.
Hockey is the national sport in Pakistan, a country that holds an unbroken record of four World Cup wins to date. The sports’ over 2 billion fans are mostly from Pakistan and next door neighbour India.
2. Cricket: 2.5 Billion Fans
Number 2 on the most popular world sports list is Cricket. The game is said to have begun in England as a children’s game as early as 1550 and later became an adult sport with growing popularity.
Cricket is very well established in North America, The Caribbean, South Africa and New Zealand. The game has its largest following these days in Australia, New Zealand, India, and Pakistan, who also double as the highest performing national team as of 2016. A greater number of Cricket’s over 2.5 billion fans reside in India and Pakistan.
1. Soccer: 3.5 Billion Fans
Unarguably, soccer tops the list of the most popular world sports. Around 200 BC, the earliest known form of soccer was played in China during the Han Dynasty, in a game called ‘Cuju’, translated literally as ‘Kick Ball’.
Modern day soccer was founded in England in 1883 with the formation of the Football Association (FA), which standardized the rules for competition. The popularity of the sport grew rapidly throughout Europe and an international governing body, FIFA was founded in Paris in 1904.
Today, soccer is played at a professional level throughout the World, with an estimated 250 million people playing it regularly at an amateur level. Top soccer players earn hundreds of millions of dollars annually these days and are highly regarded by millions of loyal and passionate fans.
The Brazilian team is generally recognized as the most talented national soccer team and led the World Cup rankings with five wins throughout the competition’s history. The game of Soccer today has a massive fan base of over 3.5 billion fans worldwide.