Sports in general are either something you love or something you don’t. Whether you actually play or watch from the comfort of your home, they have the power to make us feel really great.
And there are a number of reasons for that. Firstly our brains are designed to want to win. It drives us to compete and pick sides which is why when our team or country is playing in a tournament we root for them. The thrill of the win releases dopamine into the system and that makes us feel good. Cognitive neuroscientist Ian Robertson says that “success and failure shapes us more powerfully than genetics and drugs.”
So inherently, following or participating in sports is a good thing. When our team is winning. But with so many games to chose from, which are the most popular in the world and why?
Unsurprisingly, Football is the biggest sport in the world. With an estimated four billion fans, worldwide, it is also the largest attended sport in the UK. And while no money changes hands for the victors, winning the World Cup is one of the single biggest prizes in the world. But it’s the UEFA Champions League where the real money lies. The winning team can expect a cash boost of €15m from a total prize fund of €1.1 billion.
Cricket is the second largest sport in the world with an estimated 2.5 billion fans. Originally an English games, it now enjoys immense popularity in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Australia. The Cricket World Cup now has a whopping prize fund of over $10m. The winning team can expect to take home nearly $4m for their performance.
Many will be very surprised to learn that Field Hockey is actually the third most popular sport on the planet. With two billion fans, it is another game that originated in the UK in the 1800’s. It is now widely played in India, Australia, and Pakistan.
But for all their popularity, unless you are a professional who gets paid for the game, there are few opportunities in sport to win a significant amount of prize money. Mostly, it is for the glory and the bragging rights.
Other than winning a huge tournament, which sports offer the greatest chance to win big? You really can’t look passed Horse Racing for the large purses. The 2019 Grand National will have a prize fund of a million pounds making it the most valuable horse race in Europe.
Else where in the world, the Dubai World Cup Night is also huge in terms of prize money. In one night over $27.25m is paid out to winner. Closely following it is the Breeders Cup in which more than $24m is paid out.
And who can forget Formula 1. One of wealthiest sports on the planet, an estimated $700 million is won each season.
So not only does following sport make us feel good, if you are lucky enough to play professionally it can also make you very, very wealthy.