Soccer (more popularly known as Football in many regions) is a team sport that is popular in almost every country in the world. The huge fan following is perhaps due to the fact that at an amateur level, it requires very little equipment and effort to learn the basics. Thus, kids start playing soccer at an early age and go on to become ardent followers of the game. Soccer is also the highest paying team sport at professional level. The prize money for the winning team at the 2010 soccer world cup was US $30 million. The synonym of enthusiasm and zeal, soccer or soccer posses the number 1 ranking in the world's most popular sports .
The second most popular sport in the world is also a team sport. Cricket's number two spot in terms of number of fans is thanks largely due to its popularity in the Indian sub-continent. It is popular in Asia, Australia, England and few selected countries, but is slowly expanding its reach to other countries. Cricket is a rather interesting sport with many formats - from test matches which last for 5 days to the more recent 20-20 format which has a duration of about 3 hours. The original format of the game (5 days) and the somewhat involved rules and skills required meant that Cricket was popular among a few selected countries to begin with. However, the introduction of the 20-20 format has resulted in many more countries participating in the sport at an international level.
Field hockey is another team sport with reach across the globe. It is played in atleast 116 countries (members of the International Hockey Federation). Matches at the professional level have a duration of about 1 hour 15 minutes, making hockey a short and action packed sport. Field hockey is one of the most popular team sport for women.
Tennis is the 4th most popular sport in the world, but is the most popular individual sport. Tennis can be played between two single players or two teams of a pair of players each (doubles variant). It is a sport which is equally popular among men and women. Lawn tennis is a very high paying individual sport - individual players have made more than $40 million in a year alone. Tennis is a fascinating game as well as exercise. The fact that there is no time limit in the game means a player has to work hard on his/her stamina - matches between professionals often turn out to be a test of endurance. The only limiting factor in the popularity of the game is the availability of good tennis courts. Everyone should try Lawn Tennis - the world's most popular individual sport atleast once!
Volleyball is also a team sport which is popular across the globe, partly due to its different variants (it can be played indoor as well as outdoors). Volleyball is popular among men as well women. Officially, the sport is played between teams of six players each.
Table-Tennis is another individual/pair sport which makes it to the top 10 most popular sports list. Informally, table-tennis is also known as ping-pong. One of the advantages of the game is that it requires relatively lesser space, so many clubs, schools and recreational centers have a table-tennis court. Though it appears that there is relatively less running in the sport, a serious game of table-tennis can be a very good exercise due to the swift movements required.
Baseball, the national pastime of the United States, is the 7th most popular sport in the world. In form, it is closest to Cricket, another popular sport. Baseball is also a very high paying sport at the professional level - the total prize money for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) tournament standing at $14 million, and individual players in the United States earning as much as $33 million in a year.
Golf is the most popular sport which can be played solo (without requiring a partner). It is a game where focus is completely on individual brilliance - ones performance in Golf is not influenced by the opponent's. A golf course can offer unique scenic beauty and natural environment unmatched by any other sport. As golf courses are often rare even in big cities, many people first try their hands on an alternative form - mini golf. Though the sport is played regularly only by the wealthier class, people love to watch golf. Golf has the record for an individual sports-person earning the highest amount of money ever. As of 2010, Tiger Woods has earned close to $900 million in his career so far. He has earned around $90 million in 2010 from winnings and endorsements alone.
Basketball is an action packed game combining the display of skills, strategy and athleticism in one of the shortest durations as compared to contemporary sports. Basketball gives you one of the most rigorous indoor exercises. The game originated in Canada and has a huge fan following in North America. However, it has gained worldwide popularity rather quickly - the Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) has more than 200 countries, of which only 75 are ranked with non-zero points as of 2010. Top Basketball players in the world are rewarded handsomely. In 2004, Michael Jordan made 35 million dollars.
Football is one of the most intensive contact sports. In the US, it is simply called Football (and "Football" is called "Soccer"), while in the rest of the world, it is often more commonly known as Gridiron.