Sports like soccer, golf and tennis are fairly universal in terms of their popularity and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day. However, there are a number of other sports that are now starting to make an impact on a global level, which may one day rival the big three.
Here’s a selection which includes such sports, some you may have heard of already, as well as a few that were only played in a small number of nations until very recently.
Padel is a bit like playing tennis on a smaller court but with enclosed walls that you can use to keep your rallies going. It was first played back in the 1960s in Mexico but is now one of the world’s fastest growing sports, according to reports, with upwards of 18 million players worldwide.
Drone racing now has its own league – the DRL – which is now in its fourth season and it’s continuing to grow in popularity each year. The pilots race their drones around different courses and obstacles, giving a thrilling experience for viewers. The Drone Racing League is primarily based in America, but it’s now broadcast to global audiences on many major sports networks.
While rugby union is already well-established as a main sport in Europe and Australasia, it has recently seen a big uptake in North and South America. Many outlets are reporting it’s the fastest growing sport in the United States, plus in recent years, millions more people have started to play the game, more and more rugby websites and forums are being launched each year and the audience for the Rugby World Cup next year is expected to be its biggest ever.
Thanks chiefly to the many stars of UFC, mixed martial arts (MMA) has started to become the sport of choice for both new fans and those looking to play a competitive game. It’s also now one of the most lucrative sports and the top MMA fighters now have respective net worths that rival soccer players.
Sport-based computer games have been around since the 1970s, but thanks to today’s modern gaming consoles and systems, the sophistication of sports games – and of course the popularity of streaming on platforms like YouTube and Twitch – e-sports now has one of the largest global audiences and makes billions of dollars a year. Better still, it’s something almost anyone can get involved in.
According to reports, statistically Adventure Racing is the fastest growing sport in terms of percentage gains in the last two years. It’s a multidisciplinary endurance sport which involves racers navigating different terrains on bikes, via boats, climbing and on foot. While competitor numbers are in the low millions, this has shot up by over 20% in a short space of time, leaving many to believe it will soon become a global phenomenon.