5 Most Popular Sports In The UK

David Banks
Authored by David Banks
Posted Monday, July 1, 2024 - 10:41am

Brits love sports. We love to play them, watch them, analyse them, and bet on their outcome. Most people have their favourites, and while a list of the most popular sports in the UK may not contain any groundbreaking inclusions, there may still be one or two surprises.

One of the reasons sports are so popular in the UK is the myriad of betting opportunities that exist for them. Sportsbooks and online bookmakers offer thousands of betting options across virtually every conceivable sport. Punters can also enjoy access to a selection of bonuses and promotional perks for signing up with well-known betting sites (source: bettingsites.ltd). Whether you love watching them, are a hardcore supporter, or just a punter, these are the five most popular sports in the UK.  

Football: It won’t come as a surprise to learn that football is the UK’s most popular sport. Football’s place as the most popular sport in the UK isn’t surprising, but the fact that a massive 80% of British sports fans say they follow or watch football might be surprising. Not only is it the most popular spectator sport, but it is the most widely played sport in the UK too, with more than 8 million people donning shin pads and kicking a ball around a muddy field on a regular basis.

Boxing: Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua’s domination of the boxing world over the past decade goes some way to explain why boxing is so popular in the UK. The fact that modern boxing evolved from prize fights that were started and popularised in the UK is also a part of the legacy that boxing carries here. The emergence of other combat sports, including MMA, has done little to dampen the country’s love of hand-to-hand combat sports.

Cricket: Invented in the 16th century in England, cricket used to be considered among the most boring sports around. International authorities have attempted to freshen up the sport’s image with the introduction of shorter and more entertaining formats, like T20 and 100-ball tournaments, and it has reinvigorated the game. Test cricket is still a popular form of the game, taking place over five days, but the ICC World Cup is extremely popular with its one-day format.

Rugby: Rugby was famously invented by a football player who picked the ball up and ran with it. Rather than causing a ruckus, it created the first ruck, and the game of rugby was born. Although the sport has spread through most of the world, it remains very popular in the UK and while it once had something of a reputation for being more like a public school brawl, this has changed somewhat in recent years. The game is tough, extremely physical, and enjoyed by millions every week, in its two different codes in the UK: rugby union and rugby league.

Tennis: Rounding off the top 5 favourite sports in the UK is tennis—another game with its roots in the UK. In this case, lawn tennis was first played in Edgbaston, Birmingham, although it was strongly based on the original game of tennis that was likely played in French monastic cloisters in the 12 Century. The traditional game is still played, but has more complex rules now, and is not as widely recognised as the modern game of tennis. It is estimated that approximately 5 million people play tennis in the UK.

The UK is a nation of sports lovers, whether it’s watching, playing, or even betting on the outcome of games through crypto betting sites. The top five list of favourite sports doesn’t throw up too many surprises, but, according to one survey, American football and basketball both feature in the top 10 favourite sports for the nation.  


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