In America, sports that rank high in popularity are football, baseball and basketball. But what sports draw crowds in other parts of the world? We decided to take a look at some unique and non-American sports with the largest fan bases.


(Image courtesy of Alexander Cohen via Flickr.)

Originating in Spain, bullfighting or “corrida de toros” is practiced in parts of Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Portugal and Southern France. Bullfighting season runs from March to October, and continues to draw a large number of fans annually despite protests and the anti-bullfighting movement in the past. The sport is filled with rituals, such as the beginning of each round being announced with a trumpet and the “suit of lights” outfits made with silver and gold threads that the participants wear. There are six people on a team that work together over the course of three stages to kill the bull.


(Image courtesy of David Surtees via Flickr.)

Cricket is often traced back to 16th century England, and is believed to originate as a children’s game. It is most popular in England, Ireland and Australia. It is a bat-and-ball game played by both men and women. Played between two teams of 11 players, Cricket is played in a series of innings with the teams switching roles after each, similar to baseball. The spirit of the game is very important and players are held to high standards to ensure they’re playing respectfully. Though Cricket isn’t played in the Olympics, there are men’s and women’s Cricket World Cups where teams across the globe compete.


(Image courtesy of Cardiff Potter via Flickr.)

Hurling is an Irish game that’s still very popular in the country today–in fact, Ireland has its own international team. Hurling grew in popularity and is now played in Australia and Continental Europe. There are both men and women teams, and 15 players per side participate on a field similar to a rugby field. Each game lasts 70 minutes and is divided into halves. Hurling made an appearance in the Olympics once, competing in the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, MO. Hurling has large competitions and championships within leagues, the 2009 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final drawing a crowd of 82,000 people.

Team Handball

(Image courtesy of West Point – The U.S. Military Academy via Flickr.)

Team Handball is a sport that originated in and is still most played in Germany and Scandinavia by both men and women. Handball first appeared in the Olympics in 1936, returning in 1972 (men’s) and 1976 (women’s). There are also team handball men’s and women’s world championships held in odd-numbered years. Each team has seven players on the field at once, and the object is to score in the opposing team’s goal. A game that draws aspects from basketball, hockey and soccer, Team Handball continues to be largely popular with matches drawing around 40,000 spectators.

Cycling/Road Bicycle Racing

(Image courtesy Mandy Jansen via Flickr.)

Cycling, or Road Bicycle Racing, is highly popular in Belgium, France and Italy. However, it is competed around the world as well, with various types of competitions from individual and team time trials, single-day races, stage races and distance races. Perhaps the most well-known competition is the Tour de France, which is a three-week long stage race through France that draws huge crowds each year. There are also grand tours through Italy, Spain and Australia that draw large numbers of competitors and spectators.

(Image courtesy Johnno100 via Flickr.)