Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New: Moving Beyond Popular Sports

Popular Sports
Popularity is often a subjective term when you’re discussing sport. Football is often held up as the world’s most popular sport because it has the biggest international viewing figures. However, if you go to the US, football (aka soccer) trails behind American football, basketball and baseball by significant margins. It’s the same if you go to India. While there’s a definite love for football in India, the national sport is cricket, and nothing comes close to it in terms of popularity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New: Moving Beyond Popular Sports

A Digital World of Sports Entertainment

Beyond a general sense of what’s popular and empirical viewing figures, we can judge popularity using other metrics. Betting markets are often a good measure of popularity at a given point in time. For example, rugby isn’t the most-watched sport in the UK. However, if you go online and look at the 6 Nations odds 2023, you’ll see a variety of markets, including outright match betting, handicaps and points totals.

In tandem with the betting odds for major tournaments such as the Six Nations, online sportsbooks also offer match previews, reviews, statistical data, promos and betting tips. Essentially, when a big event is happening, betting apps turn into entertainment hubs. So, during the biggest competitions in rugby, apps such as Betfair become the home of all things rugby. By that measure, you could say rugby, for a short period of time at least, is among the most popular sports in the world.

Away from betting apps, we’ve got social media. Events and iconic sporting moments can go viral overnight. For example, Kelly McGarry’s backflip over a canyon thrust mountain biking into the spotlight (see video above). When it was first posted in 2013, it racked up more than 17 million views within a year. Ten years later, it’s been viewed over 221 million times. Yes, it might not be viral in the strictest definition, but the viewer count is still increasing. This, in turn, has helped mountain biking pique the interest of mainstream viewers.

Expand Your Sporting Horizons

So why does all of this matter? Popularity is contextual, it’s fluid and, oftentimes, it’s fleeting. Therefore, we shouldn’t close our minds to what’s out there. The advent of online entertainment has made it easy to access all manner of sports content. Even though we’re naturally drawn to whatever the most popular sport is in our country, there doesn’t mean we should live inside these boxes. Use the tools available and expand your horizons.

You may be a diehard football fan and feel like nothing else matters. However, if you tap into the latest trends on social media, you might come across a video from someone like Kelly McGarry and discover you really like the sport of mountain biking. Put simply, the internet is a powerful resource and that’s something you should remember as a sports fan. There is a whole world of sport out there, so go out there and explore.