TVOne News led with it. At first glance The New Zealand Herald looks like it did too. Last month, the newspaper had just two words on its front page: IT’S ON! Which we already knew so it hardly qualified as news.
Both media outlets were covering the same story, the Rugby World Cup. Thing is the Herald wasn’t – well, not exactly. The front page,usually the pride of newspapers, was a wrap-around. At its bottom was a line which proudly proclaimed that this was an ad for the chain store Harvey Norman… The real Granny Herald hid inside, shamed perhaps by its commercial needs.
The same could be said of TVONE. Weren’t there any other real stories to be told that evening? Or did it assume that its entire audience was caught up in ruggers mania? As Harvey Norman/Granny Herald pointed out, the World Rugby Cup is on, but just how popular is rugby when compared to other sports?
The website sportsshow.net has done a thorough job of compiling a list of the ten most popular sports. First, it critiqued its own effort by asking just what ‘popular’ meant.
‘The word “popular” could mean ‘most watched sports’ or ‘most revenue-generating sports’ said the site. It then decided to rank the sports by using 15 different criteria for its final ranking. Some of these included global fan base and revenue, viewership on TV, and number of countries in which the sport is popular.
It used its criteria to make sure its own assessment was accurate and arrived at this list:
- Soccer, 3.5 billion fans.
- Cricket, 2.3 billion.
- Basketball, 2.2 billion.
- Field and ice hockey, 2 billion.
- Tennis, 1 billion.
- Volleyball (really?) 900 million.
- Table tennis (and ditto) 850 million.
- Baseball, 500 million.
- Rugby, one million.
- Golf, 390 million.
There’s no doubt that we’re a sporting society. When it comes to rugby, the ninth most popular sport, we lead the world, having won three world cups. But when did it become a news lead?