Soccer is the biggest and richest sport in the world. The Super Bowl may attract huge numbers every year with 110 million viewers, but the last World Cup Final attracted nearly 3.5 billion, roughly half of the world’s population and a figure that is simply staggering on all levels.
The domestic game is equally popular and lucrative and it’s unlikely to be toppled anytime soon. In fact, no other sport comes close. But that might change in the next decade. With corruption on the rise and a new generation of sports stars turning to other disciplines, soccer will likely have some competition in the years to come and these three fast-rising sports are the ones set to compete.
Pro gaming, competitive gaming, eSports—whatever you call it, this is where the action is in the world of sport and gambling. It has grown from an obscure sport played in bedrooms and basements into one of the biggest sports in the world and it is growing at a phenomenal rate every year.
If you go back just a decade or so then eSports as an industry was unheard of in the west but it was big in Korea and Japan. American and European players had to travel to the east if they wanted to make a career out of it and because they were coming from countries where gaming as a competitive industry was unheard of, they had a lot of catching up to do.
One of the things that helped eSpots to grow in the west was gambling. As soon as companies like Bet365 and Pinnacle Sports started offering markets on pro gaming events, they had way more sponsorship and interest than ever before. This triggered bigger pots, bigger payments, and more sponsors. Twitch and YouTube also helped to increase the popularity, creating the perfect storm.
As a result of this explosion of interest, eSports has been estimated to grow to a worth of $1.5 billion within 2 years, with other experts claiming it will topple soccer as the world’s biggest sport within the decade. Pro gamers make a lot of money, as does everyone else involved, and that’s only increasing.
Basketball is one of the biggest sports in the US. It may not have the viewership of football, but it’s more popular on the streets and it has appealed more to players around the world. Basketball is still somewhat of a novelty in countries like the UK (although they do have professional leagues) but there are many countries where it is either the biggest or second biggest sport, including some you wouldn’t expect.
Greeks love basketball. They are one of the best national teams in Europe and it is often said to be their second biggest sport behind soccer. Australia, Lithuania, Argentina, Serbia, Spain and Slovenia are also big fans. However, it’s thanks to the rise in popularity in China, as well as the ongoing support from Russia and North America, that makes this such a globally dominant sport.
It’s not quite on par with soccer just yet, but it is the fastest rising US sport and already has more fans than football and baseball, the latter of which has taken off in Korea and Japan, but has struggled elsewhere.
Known to Americans as “football without safety gear” rugby is already big business in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and much of Northern Europe, but it is now expanding into North America.
There are over 2 million American kids playing the game and this interest has been spurred on by the fact that the US have a pretty good international team, as well as a world-beating Rugby Sevens team. The US struggled to get to grips with soccer because it took them years to make an impression on the world stage, but that isn’t the case with rugby.
It’s also growing in popularity in Japan, who have club teams in the Super Rugby competition and a national team that proved itself capable at the last World Cup, and South America, where Argentina have grown into one of the best teams in world rugby. Spain, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Russia are also beginning to establish themselves on the world stage and this is triggering a lot of interest in the game.
Players are earning more than ever, the game is being televised more than ever and this love is even being shared by the women’s game, as well as by Rugby Sevens and Rugby League.
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Source: News Stand
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