As Indians, we all have the spirit of cricket flowing within our veins. But Cricket, as popular as it is, doesn’t extend the world over. In other words, it’s not played everywhere. But to it’ feat, it’s still the second most popular sport in the world in terms of viewership. So which World sports make the list of 7 most popular? Here’s the list below :
Probably the most physical sport in the world, Rugby takes the No. 7 spot on our list. Aside from the apparent brute force of the players on the field, Rugby actually requires painstaking strategy coupled with timing and determination. It features a goal with to giant posts (like tuning forks) on either side, resting upon what is known as the touch line which players, either strategically or forcefully, attempt to reach and generate points for their team. In America, the sport is known as American Football and Rugby takes the 7th sport with almost 400 million fans around the world.
I’ve never fully understood why Golf is so popular because of its slow pace and “intense” commentary, but this is one sport which requires pin-point precision, skill, understanding of the terrain and external factors and technique all coupled into every single stroke. The objective is to sink a small white ball into 18 holes, in sequential order, using different golf clubs, each suitable for a particular situation. The terrain can vary from grass to sandy pits, forests or pools of water. Nearly 450 million fans follow Golf, which puts it at our No.6 spot.
5. Table Tennis
Now we’re moving into the big leagues. Table Tennis ranks 5th with over 850 million viewers and the obsession to play/watch Table Tennis begins in schools because of two reasons. First off, to set up a facility for table tennis is relatively simple and secondly there are many people who are willing to coach school children in the art of Table Tennis. The most heavily populated sport till the State level, Table Tennis separates two players by a table. Each player owns one side of the net and has to prevent the TT ball from bouncing twice in their side by keeping it over the net using a TT racket. Being a simple sport, it catches on easily with children and that’s why the need to watch Table Tennis makes for a quiet, envious day.
Volleyball is kind of like an enlarged form of Table Tennis, except the ball in not supposed to pitch on either side. It’s a skillfully played sport in which the players attempt to keep the ball in air using both their hands and legs. As with most popular sports, it requires a net and the maximum number of touches between players on the same side is 3. This sport is most frequently played in a sandy terrain to avoid damage to the human skin as it involves quick reflexes and diving. With 900 million viewers, Volleyball just narrowly missed out on the top 3.
Tennis is the inspiration for Table Tennis. The rules are the largely similar; the only differentiating factor being that Tennis is played on a giant court. Tennis originated in England and is the third most popular sport in their history, next only to Football and Cricket. Tennis is played on 4 special courts: Hard, Clay, Grass (also known as lawn tennis) and Asphalt. Occasionally, Tennis is also played indoors when the harsh external conditions make it unfavorable to play outdoors. A single game of tennis can sometimes stretch up to 4 hours, which is why it is considered the most physically exhaustive sport. Over 1 millions fans ardently follow Tennis with dedicated passion but even Tennis gets dwarfed by the popularity of the No 2 sport.
2. Field Hockey
Several countries from around the world strive to claim their place as the No.1 Hockey team. It was India’s National Sport, has over 2 million fans worldwide and it is rumored that its origins can be traced back almost 4000 years ago to Egypt where carvings depict two teams with players on either side hurling projectiles into each other’s goals. In hockey, two teams try to score the puck beyond the opposing teams goal post, which is guarded by one of the most difficult positions in any sport, the goalkeeper. There are several subdivisions of Hockey like Field Hockey, Ice Hockey, Sledge Hockey, Roller Hockey and Street Hockey of which Field Hockey is the most popular. But it’s amazing that in-spite of the vast following of Hockey, it still doesn’t compare in magnitude to the No 1 sport.
There is not a place on this planet (except for Antarctica) which doesn’t entertain Football. Football is first believed to have been played by the Chinese around 220 BC when it was called Cuju. Around the 12th Century, Football received a whole new dimension when an air-filled ball was used for the first time on a field with two goal posts. Since then, Football has been constantly re-innovated until it’s become what it is today. Football has over 3.5 million fans worldwide. It has the largest viewer base in most countries, is the most encouraged sport in schools and has a special role for one and all to play. The best part is that it just needs a ball. The boundaries and posts can be easily manipulated to suit the condition. Brazil is known as the Home of Soccer because of its wide pool of players and the contributions they have made to Football. It is also the highest paying sport and with everything going in its favor, it’s no surprise that soccer cemented itself in the No. 1 spot.