History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: £175

Target: £400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.




A Guide to the Best Sports and Players in the US and Worldwide

10 Most Popular Sports Across The Globe

External content provider image

Every sports fan has one or two disciplines that they admire the most. But while some of these disciplines assemble stadiums and worldwide championships, the others have a more narrow fanbase. What's more, popular disciplines can differ from one country to another.

In this article, you'll learn about the most popular sports globally, including five favored disciplines in the US. Read on to discover high-quality sports pictures, the names of famous players, and exciting industry statistics.

5 popular sports in the USA

The most popular sports games today in the US include the following:

American football

External content provider image

● Championship: NFL & NCAA
● Famous players: Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Tom Brady, Deion Sanders, Walter Payton, Joe Montana

In December 2023, 77% of US citizens were most interested in American football. This is a game for two teams, each one consisting of eleven players. Each team tries to score more points than the other within a specific time.

This sport is a mix of rugby and soccer. It is played in high school, college, and professionally.


External content provider image

● Championship: NBA
● Famous players: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal

Basketball was born in the USA in the 19th century. Nowadays, it is one of America's favorite sports. This game requires two teams of five players each. The teams aim to shoot a basketball through the opponent's hoop while defending their own.

Basketball is widely played in American schools, with over 17,000 high schools having basketball teams. Governed by the National Basketball Association (NBA), this sport has inspired various movies and series, including Hoosiers, Hoop Dreams, the classic Space Jam, and Hustle.


External content provider image

● Championship: MLB
● Famous players: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Bo Jackson, Ted Williams

Though it is not as popular as basketball or football, baseball still holds a special place in people’s hearts. This bat-and-ball game is played by two teams and is considered America’s national pastime.

These days, baseball is played globally, but it is still largely considered a significant part of the US identity. People play from little league fields to massive stadiums.


External content provider image

● Championship: MLS
● Famous players: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley

In most countries, this sport is known as football. US citizens, however, call it soccer. It requires two teams trying to score goals by kicking a ball into each other’s goalposts.

The popularity of soccer in the US grew after the FIFA World Cup in 1994 and the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1999.

Ice hockey

External content provider image

● Championship: NHL
● Famous players: Patrick Kane, Mike Modano, Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch, Auston Matthews

Ice hockey, the fifth most popular sport in the USA, is known for its fast-paced action and physical intensity. Two teams use hockey sticks to move a puck on ice while skating and trying to shoot it into the opponent's net.

Ice hockey is a global favorite and one of the most-watched sports in the USA. The best players often join the National Hockey League (NHL), which now consists of 32 teams.

FAQ: What are the other top ten most popular sports in the US?
Besides the disciplines listed in this article, the other ten most popular sports in the US are auto racing (NASCAR), golf, tennis, mixed martial arts (MMA), wrestling, horse racing, boxing, lacrosse, volleyball, and gymnastics.

FAQ: What are the three most famous sports in Europe?
The first is football, with iconic clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United, and Bayern Munich, all of which have millions of followers. The second is tennis, which has major tournaments like Wimbledon, the French Open, and the ATP Tour Finals. The third is Formula 1 racing, which boasts a rich history of legendary races and iconic tracks like Monza in Italy and Silverstone in the United Kingdom.

5 most popular sports in the world

Why are sports games so popular across the globe? Mostly because of their entertaining and competitive nature. The most globally popular disciplines, however, differ a bit from those in the US. They include the following:


External content provider image

This game is intense and strategic, with various positions that require both teamwork and powerful individual skills. The most iconic football players worldwide are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar.

Football has over 3.5 billion fans worldwide.


External content provider image

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams. The batting team aims to score runs by hitting the ball and running between wickets, while the bowling and fielding team tries to dismiss the batsmen. This sport is well-known for its strategic nuances. It has different formats like Test matches, One Day Internationals (ODIs), and Twenty20 (T20) matches. The most famous cricket players are Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, and Sir Donald Bradman.

In 2023, the Cricket World Cup in India brought together a record of 1.25 million fans.


External content provider image

Tennis is an individual or doubles sport played on a rectangular court. Players use a racket to hit a ball over a net, trying to land it on the opponent's side of the court. The game has different types of play (serving, volleying, and baseline) and is known for its scoring system that includes love, 15, 30, 40, and deuce. The most famous tennis stars are Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic.

Tennis has around 1 billion fans worldwide.


External content provider image

Golf is a sport where players use clubs to hit a ball into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible. It's a strategic game played on lush, well-maintained courses with hazards like bunkers and water features that make the process more challenging and interesting. There are many famous golf players, including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Rory McIlroy.

In 2023, 450 million people considered themselves golf fans.


External content provider image

Athletics, or track and field, is a variety of sporting events that include running, jumping, throwing, and walking. This sport allows athletes to demonstrate a wide range of physical abilities and skills. As it is very diverse, so is the number of famous performers in various track and field disciplines—for instance, Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, and Jesse Owens are among them.

The diversity of this sport makes it difficult to estimate the number of its fans. However, it is widely popular and present at major events like the Olympic Games and World Championships.

FAQ: What are the 20 most popular sports in the world?
The 20 most popular sports in the world include those listed in this article, along with rugby, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, field hockey, cycling, swimming, gymnastics, boxing, martial arts, handball, wrestling, skiing, snowboarding, and e-sports.

FAQ: What is the world's #1 sport?
This largely depends on a country and factors like cultural significance. However, one of the most popular worldwide sports is football—it has a massive fan base of over 3.5 billion fans, widespread participation across continents, and 211 men's national football teams affiliated to FIFA.

To sum up
These are sports that keep the US and the world engaged, entertained, and waiting for more. They can be teamwork-focused or oriented toward solo players, quick and slow, with complex or simple rules. Nevertheless, each of them has a loyal and massive audience of fans.

While you're here, why not explore the latest banner feature and daily posts by clicking on the image below. There's so much more available on the History Files!



Images and text copyright © 2024. Content supplied by an external professional marketing service. The History Files accepts no responsibility for any external links on this page.