You’ve heard the refrain from soccer fans for years: “But it’s the most popular sport in the world!” That might have been the case in the past, but that might not be the case any longer, as basketball might have overtaken soccer as the world’s most played sport.
The reason? Call it the Yao Ming Effect. As Julian Borger of THE GUARDIAN writes, basketball has skyrocketed in popularity in China while soccer’s has plummeted. 12 percent of all people in China play basketball, twice as much as who play basketball. And that gap is going to continue to grow: one in three Chinese youths play the sport with more starting every day.