In terms of numbers, it's undeniably cricket. Yes, that is mainly because of India.
I'm curious to know how the people here are defining "biggest sport". While answering the question, most people here seem to be switching from objectivity to subjectivity and back at their own whim, which is absurd to me. You can't discount cricket because it is unknown in "most" of the world and then still go by numbers to say that the answer should be basketball.
Well I guess different people have different criteria which is what this thread is about. Different people might focus more on tv ratings, participation figures, revenue generated, no. of national federations, no. of countries and regions where the sport is popular etc. There is no right or wrong answer there.
A major reason why a lot of people put basketball and tennis ahead of cricket, is that both those sports have more of a presence and are 'on the radar' even in many countries where they are not one of the most popular sports.
With cricket it has a great following in quite a few countries, including some of the most populous ones in the world, but in a lot of countries where it is not popular, many people have never watched it, played it, or even heard of it.
I too am quite surprised by the field hockey numbers. The sport isn't dying in India, it is dead. It's making a very slow revival though.
So are you taking about combined numbers for viewing and playing? This part is true for India, and I'm assuming would for some other countries too: A lot of people in urban areas of India play basketball, but almost no one watches/follows any basketball, probably because coverage here is minimal. Same point continues to your last post. In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Tennis>>Basketball in term of watching but Basketball>>Tennis in terms of playing.
In fact my assumption would be that this continues on a global scale as well. Tennis would probably be the third most followed sport, but wouldn't come in the top 5 most played sports.
Well in my personal opinion is that both participation and TV rating figures should count overall, but I would prioritise the TV revenue and figures in a discussion like this.
I had no idea that basketball was that widely played in South Asia before reading your post and some other sources. Very interesting to know.
Also interesting to read about field hockey there as well. I think that the world governing body FIH turned down a big money proposal by Sahara to create and sponsor a big, wealthy tournament or something, which has hurt the sport a lot in terms of popularity and revenue.
I went to the Olympics last year and watched some field hockey and quite enjoyed it, although the Dutch women's team being talented in more ways than one helped a lot.
These numbers are generally correct, but some huge discrepancies with tennis. For example, tennis is so high in "followed" because people think that watching or even just knowing who won the 4 GS finals is called following tennis. These people(50% of my college
) wouldn't have heard of Ferrer before RG this year, but would still claim to "follow" tennis and be tennis "fans". In participate, I would think tennis would come at 9, only above go-karting.
Thanks a lot for that. I was hoping to get a better idea about the popularity of tennis in India and your post is very informative. Yes here in México it's the same, only the star players are well known and people don't really care about anyone else. I guess tennis generally is a very star driven and dependent sport, just the NBA is as a league.