When it comes to global fandom, football is the clear winner in terms of popularity. In fact, with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar just around the corner, there’s already an electric atmosphere for many sports fans who are awaiting next November’s start date.
However, not many people will actually attend a World Cup match. In fact, when it comes to spectatorship, most sports fans stick to team loyalty. In other words, they’re likely to pack into stadiums to support their favorite team—especially when the stakes are high.
But not all spectating experiences are similar. For example, a cricket fan will have a vastly different expectation when entering the grounds than someone heading to a Formula One Grand Prix. In the latter example, most viewers will need live updates via jumbotron and announcements to follow the high-octane action.
Clearly, sports fans seek out live experiences for different reasons. So, when looking at global sports, which provide supporters with the best experience? Keep reading for insight into some of the world’s most popular sports… from a seat in the grand stands.
The Perfect Afternoon: Baseball
Much like cricket, baseball can be critiqued for being ‘too slow’. In reality, much like golf, this adds to the dimension of play. Players need to handle long stretches without participating and still keep their edge for a split-second reaction. It’s incredibly challenging—but also very rewarding to watch.
In North America, the MLB baseball league has been incredibly popular in its near-hundred years of running. In fact, MLB betting odds are some of the most popular markets for sports bettors. Similarly, Japan’s NPB and South Korea’s KBO leagues are helping expand interest in baseball around the world.
So, what can spectators expect at a game? Aside from hours of action on the diamond, attendees can expect a vibrant and exciting atmosphere. There are games between innings, popular songs and chants, and, of course, plenty in the way of concessions, from frankfurters to local specialties.
A Sense of Community: Football
Aside from catching a live game, many enjoy attending sports events for a sense of community—and few clubs have the ardent support of fans like association football. This is especially true in Europe, where the sport (and its associations) has a long and storied history in each city.
As such, there’s no greater sense of community than at a Premier League or La Liga match in England and Spain, respectively. Though baseball fans can expect a few chants and cheers to support their team, football clubs tend to have entire songs—many of which change lyrics according to each roster and season.
Additionally, some clubs are owned by fans; this means home stadiums literally belong (in part) to them. This increases the sentiment at home games, which literally become ‘the twelfth man’ in certain stadiums where fans are passionate about their team and consistent about attending home games. There’s just one caveat: tickets can be hard to come by, depending on the team and time of season.
Pure Excitement: Basketball
As exemplified above, the motivation to attend a live game often differs. Aside from supporting a team, baseball fans might have an interest in player stats and an interactive environment; football fans, by contrast, are likely showing up as part of a specific community. In the case of basketball, spectatorship is about just having fun.
The sport is simple and high-paced; it’s not difficult to introduce newcomers to the rules, while the game takes on a type of hypnotic rhythm as players move from one side of the court to the other. Basketball arenas also tend to be smaller, which makes the viewing environment more intimate.
Spectators can hear shoes squeak against the wooden floors, as well as players and coaches shouting to one another. Add in a few interactive games during breaks, as with baseball, and it’s an exhilarating experience for any stripe of sport’s fan. Even better, due to the number of games played each season, tickets tend to be affordable.