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Top 5 Sports Brits love

Brits are massive fans of sports in general but there are some sports that are more favoured than others. Here we explore the top 5 sports loved by the British.

Just as bingo is a national pass-time in Britain, there are some more physical games that inspire the same level of devotion – and it seems most of them require you to be obsessed with numbers too. While in the US it might all be about winning, in the UK there is something about the way the game is played and the sense of community from participating. Here we take you through the top five sports that obsess the British.

Cricket

Let’s start with a game that is quintessentially British. There are only a handful of nations around the world that genuinely understand the game of cricket. However, during the summer months in the UK, there are teams setting out on an epic five day or one day battle to see who is the victor.

Explaining why cricket is so brilliant is hard to do in summary. A person throws a ball at another who hits it with a bat. The batter then runs backwards and forwards between sticks until the ball is retrieved. The team with the most runs wins.

Oh, if it was only this simple.

Yet, the intricacies of the fielding positions, leg before wicket umpiring decisions and something called the Duckworth Lewis method of scoring make it a beautiful game. People can huddle in the stands with their scorecards and for hours discuss the strategy and the skill involved.

Is it really popular? Well, it was quite a niche sport for a while but 4.5 million watched the Cricket World Cup final. And, when England and Australia play it can get pretty brutal – never a more intense rivalry exists.

Football

Football – or soccer in some strange parts of the world – was invented by the Brits in 1170. And, for those living on the island – it is ‘the beautiful game’. While cricket might be the epitome of English sport, football is the most popular by absolute miles. Literally millions of fans tune in or crowd into the stands to watch their team play.

Who you choose to support can be about where you live, be a family tradition or be ruled by some invisible set of criteria. However, once chosen you are a disciple of that team and part of the clan. When match day comes round, you can find yourself on the opposite side of the argument with friends and family – but mostly in good humour!

Why is this sport so popular? Well, as a kid all you need is a patch of grass and a ball. You can make goal posts out of your coats and just play. However, as you grow up it is a reason to go to the pub with your mates and a prompt to have a good sing along.

Rugby

There is union and league… and the rules are slightly different for each. However, the general concept is the same. You have a funny shaped ball that you need to get to the zone at the other end of the pitch. Your opposition will try to stop you – and in turn try to get the same ball to their zone at your end of the pitch. You can’t throw forwards, so there is a mixture of running the ball and then throwing to a teammate. Watch out though – because to stop you the opposition will ram into you – known as a tackle – and try to steal the ball.

Why is it popular? Well it is highly physical and requires skill and courage. While it is harder to play down the local field, everyone still loves to gather in the pub for a laugh.

Tennis

Tennis has become a whole load more popular since Andy Murray became a Wimbledon champion. While the Brits have always loved the game and were the first to host a major tournament, they don’t necessarily have the depth of talent of other countries. Also, for the average viewer, the points system seems baffling.

Therefore, tennis tends to be popular for two weeks a year when Wimbledon is played. As well as watch the tennis – and brush the dust of your racket – people also drink a lot of Pimms and eat a lot of strawberries. It becomes a national event as well as a sporting match up.

Badminton

Badminton might be a surprising addition to this list. However, it is the most popular racket sport in Britain – way above Tennis. Yet, it is not because the Brits like to watch the game, rather they love to play it. It is a sport that has more than 2 million regular players. About 6400 schools compete each year in the National Schools Badminton Championship each year.

The game is actually named after a country estate in England. It is a derivative of the early childhood game battledore and shuttlecock – but was then developed into a sport. The first championships were held in 1977 after the sport appeared in the Olympics for the first time in 1972.

Badminton is one of those sports that is accessible to everyone. While it can be a highly physical game, it can also be played at a more gentle pace for those who like to chat as they play.

This article was brought to you by The Cricket Paper, the UK's best-selling cricket publication, on-sale every Sunday.
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