Whilst both team and individual sports are popular in the UK, the three top sports amongst British men are all team sports.
Team sports are great for both participation and as spectator sports and the nation has a proud tradition in many sports. This is probably because the sports are built into the school curriculum and played from a young age, added together with extensive media coverage into events like the Six Nations or the FA Cup Final that encourages people to get involved, even if not avid fans the rest of the season.
Football was popular in Britain for centuries before the creation of the Football Association in 1863, which established the rules of the modern game. Football invokes a level of passion and comradery that is an important part of life for many British men. The choice of team to support can be one supported by elders in the family or dictated by the geographical location of their home. Once a team is chosen, it is usually a life-time commitment following the team as they rise and fall through the league tables.
There are more than 480 divisions, in more than 140 individual leagues and England alone has over 40,000 registered football clubs, with the biggest names in the English Premier League that have vast numbers of supporters across the globe. It is now customary for fans of football to challenge themselves and their friends to predict the final score in any given match. Betting on the game and the general popularity of the game continues to grown, in part, thanks to the Football Association; the first governing body to promote the game worldwide.
Rugby union in Britain is governed by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in England, by the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) in Scotland and by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) in Wales. Whilst not as popular as football, rugby union is played outside of school by around six per cent of children under the age of 10 and by about 15 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds at school or as an extracurricular sport. It is not so common in schools due to the risk of injury in this rather violent game, including concussion.
The Rugby World Cup is a major event hosting almost two million people during the semi-finals and final games. The game began in 1823, when a boy named William Webb Ellis, s student at Rugby School, ran across a field with a ball in his hand during a football game at the school. The game was copied and in 1857, the first rugby match took place in Scotland, between Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Academicals.
Cricket, considered as another sport founded in England is believed to have been a popular sport as far back as the 17th century when it was widely practised in rural areas, though it originated in the 13th century. There is an account of Edward I which records a game like cricket being played in Kent.
Initially a sport played by the wealthy, it was soon being played by local farmers and tradesmen and rules formed by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London. The MCC was based at the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground which promoted the sport in public schools in England, making it popular among the middle and upper-classes.
The popularity of cricket has continued thanks to the launch of short-form T20 cricket, played by some of the best international players. Cricket’s popularity was enhanced as international superstar players competed in T20 leagues across the world.
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