Liberal Arts Blog — Field Hockey — the Third Most Popular Sport in the World?

Today’s Topic — Field Hockey — the third most popular sport in the world?

I know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but I was shocked when I googled “most popular sports in the world” and found a list with soccer #1 with an estimated 3.5 billion fans, cricket #2 with 2.5 billion, and field hockey #3 with 2 billion. After that the numbers fell sharply to tennis (1 billion), volleyball (900 million), and table tennis (850 million). The big surprise was field hockey. I thought it was a sport played exclusively at New England prep schools — usually by girls. Apparently not. So I decided to do some digging. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. Pakistan and India dominated Olympic men’s competition between 1928 and 1968.

2. Since then, men’s competition has increased from Western Europe — especially Germany and the Netherlands. Also from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand.

3. In women’s Olympic competition, the Netherlands has won 8 Olympic medals to second place Australia at 3.

NB: Combining men’s and women’s Olympic medals, the ranking looks like this: Gold: India, 8, Netherlands, 5, Australia 4. Total (Gold, Silver, Bronze): Netherlands 17, Australia and Britain 12, India 11.


1. How can a country of 16 MM people out-compete such behemoths as India and Pakistan?

2. Well, the short story is that India and Pakistan are not serious contenders in women’s field hockey.

3. The Netherlands is a rich country with a fanatical love of field hockey — 255,000 players, 309 clubs, all within a two and a half-hour drive of each other. It is the country’s second most popular sport — after soccer.

THE FIELD HOCKEY STICK — didn’t you always want to know the names of the parts?

1. The head consists of the toe, the face, and the heel.

2. The sticks are sized to fit the player — up to the hip.

3. The face has a flat side and a rounded side. Only legal to hit with the flat side.

World’s Most Popular Sports by Fans

The Most Popular Sports in the World

Field hockey

Pakistan men’s national field hockey team

Why Dutch Field Hockey is the best in the world! | Hockey Heroes TV

India–Pakistan field hockey rivalry

What’s killing Pakistan hockey?

Tiny Netherlands produces big results in field hockey


Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.