Sports make the world go round. No matter where you live, there is a sport that takes over the culture and identity of your city, state, or country. 

While the big four in the United States are baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, other nations may have a different idea. So, what sports have the most athletic participants? 


The global appeal of basketball has grown exponentially in the past decades. Thanks to current international stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic, basketball continues to gain traction in addition to past legendary players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming. 

According to the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA), nearly 450 million people want to be the next LeBron James or Michael Jordan. 

Field Hockey

Even though field hockey hasn’t caught on in the United States, it remains a sport that men and women across the globe enjoy. There are over 100 countries that enjoy field hockey, and it remains the most family-friendly sport for our neighbors up north. 

The men’s FIH Hockey World Cup begins in January, as 16 teams will duke it out to be the best in the world, with Belgium hoping to repeat as champions. 


The beautiful thing about volleyball is that it doesn’t require much to play, especially if you’re playing outside. For that reason, it is one of the most popular sports to participate in worldwide. 

The sport is flirting with nearly a billion participants when you combine indoor and outdoor. 


The most shocking inclusion on this list is undoubtedly badminton. What we thought was a strange version of tennis in elementary school gym class is serious business in Asia, considering most of the best players on the planet reside in the continent. 

Table and regular tennis are also prominent in many countries, and games that combine elements of all three games, like pickleball, continue to grow.  


The undisputed champion of sports participation continues to be soccer (if you’re a Yankee) or football (if you’re everyone else). There’s a reason why the FIFA World Cup final gets a billion eyeballs on the game, and that’s because it’s earth’s favorite sport. 

No matter where you reside, a little child will be kicking a soccer ball around with dreams of becoming the next Lionel Messi.


Some sports with the most athletic participants aren’t surprising, such as basketball and soccer. However, it’s stunning to learn that badminton and field hockey have that much appeal. 

This list will be fluid forever, but it feels like soccer will never lose its spot on top. 


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