I first had the idea to create this list when looking around the web for any data on the world's biggest sports. Lots of websites offered lists of the biggest global sports but these were mostly either not based on data or based on very ropey data. For example field hockey is often referenced in the top 5 largest global sports based on fans (because of India), despite India's fans not being able to support a full professional league, whilst the world's best field hockey players earn less in a year than some other sportsmen do in a day. So much for 2 billion fans! Other lists were very American focused or based for example on total attendances (baseball wins because of the large number of games!). Similarly there are all sorts of cliches on the web about table tennis being the greatest interest sport in China or Sumo in Japan (neither of which is true these days, think football, basketball and baseball)
I therefore set about using my professional experience in sports, statistics and research (I worked in the sports measurement dept of a global research company and am an Oxford University Economics graduate) to create a data-based list of the biggest global sports. For a year at a time and daily during that year, the most visited sports news websites were tracked from 16 of the world's biggest countries, accounting for more than 60% of the world's population and wealth, for sports covered in main news sections and prominence of headlines. From this, lists of the top sports per country over the year were produced.
The global sports list uses country size (50/50 weight for population and wealth) to weight the data, so for example prominence in China or the US is more important than in Australia in relation to the size of the country to come up with a definitive list. There are still flaws in the calculation, as more countries are added and sports tracked over a 4 year cycle, but I am confident that this is the most accurate list of the biggest global sports on the internet. I hope you enjoy!!
For any comments or questions, you can contact me by e-mail on