Most popular sports in London and the UK

SWL staff
July 7 2020, 09.00

Sport is an integral part of society in the 21st century, providing people with endless hours of activity and entertainment.

Whether you participate or simply watch, sport often provides a welcome break from the stresses and strains of daily life.

As Nelson Mandela once famously said, ‘sport has the power to change the world’ and it is impossible to disagree with the sentiment.

It is fair to say that some sports capture the public’s imagination more than others, so read on as we look at eight of the most popular sports in London and the United Kingdom.


Football undoubtedly dominates the sporting landscape across the UK, both from a participation and spectating perspective.

Big clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are a huge part of the boroughs they reside in, attracting bumper crowds to their respective home matches.

In the 2019/20 season London had a total of 12 professional clubs and dozens more at amateur level, highlighting the enduring popularity of the sport.


Cricket does tend to divide opinion, but it cannot be disputed that it his hugely popular with millions of people in the UK.

Innovations such as Twenty20 cricket have attracted a new demographic to the sport, further increasing its widespread appeal.

However, for many people cricket is all about the international game and following England’s fortunes against the likes of Australia and West Indies.

Horse racing

Big horse racing events like Royal Ascot and the Grand National have transcended sport and crossed over firmly into mainstream consciousness.

Millions of people enjoy studying betting odds on the sport throughout the year, regardless of whether the action is on the flat or over jumps.

There are numerous racecourses around London including Sandown and Kempton, all of which stage some truly thrilling equine action.


With two different codes to choose from, rugby can be confusing for the uninitiated, but both league and union are certainly well-liked versions of the sport.

Rugby league has its roots in northern England, while rugby union is tremendously popular in the southern half of the country.

At national level the England rugby union team probably garner the most attention, while interest in the British Lions is also extremely high.


Golf is one of the more popular sports across UK, with the country boasting more courses than any other in Europe.

The professional game attracts a huge amount of interest, both in terms of on-course spectators and television audiences.

Big events like the British Open and the Ryder Cup are also tremendously popular, helping to cement golf’s status as a popular sport in the UK.


As home to one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, the UK has a rich heritage when it comes to tennis – although not always on the court!

Wimbledon is the standout event of the year on the UK tennis scene, attracting massive crowds to SW19 on an annual basis.

There is also a network of amateur clubs across the country, all of which are hoping to be the one that uncovers the next Andy Murray.

Combat sports

Boxing is firmly established as a major part of culture in the UK, with millions of people having more than a passing interest in the sport.

Mixed martial arts have also joined the party in recent years, helping to crank up interest in combat sports to a whole new level.

Many stars of combat sports become household names, with the likes of Nigel Benn, Ricky Hatton and Tyson Fury immediately springing to mind.

Ice Hockey

Many people dismiss ice hockey as being the sole preserve of North America, but that belief is a huge misconception where the UK is concerned.

Ice hockey is the most-watched indoor sport in the country, with clubs like Cardiff Devils, Nottingham Panthers and Belfast Giants regularly attracting huge crowds.

The Great Britain national team has also made great strides in recent years, progressing to the top level in the World Championship structure.

Featured image by Hebi B. from Pixabay.

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