Greetings, sports enthusiasts!
Are you craving some unconventional athletic action?
Jump into our Non-Olympic Sport List, sorted by popularity for your pleasure.
From skilled athletes to adventurous amateurs, this list offers a thrilling variety of sports for everyone to enjoy!
Table of Contents
#1 American Football
American football, a popular gridiron game, originated in the United States around the late 19th century. Walter Camp, known as the “Father of American Football,” played a significant role in developing the sport.
Today, American football is hugely popular in the US, with the National Football League (NFL) being its leading professional competition. The Super Bowl, the NFL’s annual championship, is a highly anticipated event.
While American football is not an Olympic sport, it has made appearances as a demonstration sport in past Olympic Games.
Cricket originated in southeast England during the late 16th century as a game played by shepherds. The sport spread across the world through the British Empire, making it most popular in countries like India, Pakistan, England, Australia, and the West Indies.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) governs the sport, with major formats including Tests, One Day Internationals (ODIs), and Twenty20 (T20). Some popular tournaments are the ICC Cricket World Cup, T20 World Cup, and Indian Premier League.
Cricket featured in the 1900 Olympics but has not made a return since.
Rugby, a contact sport played with an oval ball, is believed to have originated in England in the 19th century. Today, rugby is popular in countries such as England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and France.
There are two main types of rugby: Rugby Union and Rugby League, both with their governing bodies – World Rugby (Union) and International Rugby League (League).
Popular tournaments include the Rugby World Cup (Union), Six Nations Championship (Union), and the Rugby League World Cup (League). Rugby Sevens, a variant, became an Olympic sport in 2016.
Squash, a fast-paced racket sport played in an enclosed court, originated in England in the 19th century. The sport is popular worldwide, particularly in Egypt, England, Australia, and countries across Europe.
The World Squash Federation governs the sport, with popular tournaments like the World Squash Championships, British Open, and US Open. While squash has been considered for inclusion in the Olympics, it has not yet been added to the program.
Lacrosse, a fast and dynamic team sport using a small rubber ball and long-handled stick, has origins in Native American tribes, dating back to the 12th century.
Today, the sport is popular in North America, particularly in the United States and Canada. The World Lacrosse organization oversees the sport with popular tournaments such as the World Lacrosse Championship and NCAA Lacrosse Championship (college level).
Lacrosse is not currently an Olympic sport but has appeared as a demonstration sport in previous Olympic Games.
Pickleball is a relatively new racket sport invented in 1965 in Washington, USA. It combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. The sport is gaining popularity in the United States and other countries, particularly among the older population.
The International Federation of Pickleball governs the sport, with tournaments like the US Open Pickleball Championships and the USAPA National Championships. Pickleball is not an Olympic sport.
#7 Ultimate Frisbee
Ultimate Frisbee, also simply known as Ultimate, originated in 1968 in New Jersey, USA. The non-contact team sport involves passing a flying disc among teammates to achieve goals.
Ultimate is popular in the United States and Canada, as well as other regions worldwide.
The World Flying Disc Federation governs the sport, organizing international tournaments like the World Ultimate and Guts Championship. Ultimate Frisbee is not an Olympic sport.
Floorball, a type of indoor floor hockey, originated in Sweden in the late 1960s. It is popular across Europe, particularly in Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland.
The International Floorball Federation oversees the sport, organizing competitions such as the Men’s and Women’s World Floorball Championships. Floorball is not an Olympic sport, but it is a part of the World Games program.
Netball, a popular team sport similar to basketball, emerged in England in the late 19th century. The sport is especially popular across the Commonwealth nations, including England, Australia, New Zealand, and countries in Africa and the Caribbean.
The International Netball Federation governs netball, with major competitions including the Netball World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. Netball is not an Olympic sport.
#10 Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw, a sport similar to volleyball but played without using hands, has its origins in Southeast Asia dating back to the 15th century. The sport is most popular in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) oversees the sport, organizing the biennial King’s Cup World Championship. Sepak Takraw is not an Olympic sport but has featured in the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.
More Non Olympic Sports
- Kabaddi: Originating in ancient India over 4,000 years ago, Kabaddi is a team contact sport that combines elements of wrestling and rugby. The sport is most popular in South Asia, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The International Kabaddi Federation governs the sport with popular tournaments including the Kabaddi World Cup and the Pro Kabaddi League in India. Kabaddi is not an Olympic sport.
- Hurling: Hurling, an outdoor team sport of ancient Gaelic and Irish origin, dates back over 3,000 years. The sport, which involves using a wooden stick to hit a ball, is most popular in Ireland. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) governs hurling with popular tournaments like the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Hurling is not an Olympic sport.
- Gaelic Football: Gaelic Football, a sport that combines aspects of soccer and rugby, has its roots in Ireland, dating back to the 16th century. The sport is most popular in Ireland and has a growing following in the United States and Australia. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) governs Gaelic Football, with the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship being the most popular annual tournament. The sport is not part of the Olympic program.
- Bandy: Bandy, a form of field hockey played on ice, originated in England in the late 18th century. The sport is popular in Russia, Sweden, and Finland. The International Bandy Federation oversees the sport, with popular competitions including the Bandy World Championship. Bandy is not an Olympic sport.
- Futsal: Futsal, a variant of soccer played with a smaller ball on a smaller indoor field, was developed in Uruguay in the 1930s. The sport is popular worldwide, particularly in Brazil, Spain, and Portugal. Futsal is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Futsal Association (AMF). The FIFA Futsal World Cup and the AMF Futsal World Cup are popular international tournaments. Futsal is not an Olympic sport.
- Paddle Tennis: Paddle tennis, a racquet sport similar to tennis but played on a smaller court with solid paddles, originated in the United States in the 1920s. The sport is most popular in the US, Spain, and Mexico. The International Padel Federation and the American Platform Tennis Association govern the sport. Paddle tennis is not part of the Olympic program.
- Paddleboarding: Paddleboarding has its roots in ancient Polynesian culture, but it gained modern popularity in Hawaii in the early 2000s. The sport involves standing on a large, stable board and propelling oneself using a long paddle. SUP is popular in coastal areas, lakes, and rivers worldwide. The International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) both govern the sport. Paddleboarding is not part of the Olympic program but has its own World Championships.
- Disc Golf: Disc golf, a flying disc sport, was invented in the 1970s as an alternative to traditional golf. The sport is played using a flying disc instead of a ball and clubs, with players aiming for a target rather than a hole. Disc golf is popular in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The Professional Disc Golf Association governs the sport, overseeing events like the World Disc Golf Championships. Disc golf is not an Olympic sport.
- Bowls: Bowls, also known as lawn bowls, is a sport that involves rolling biased balls towards a smaller target ball, called a “jack” or “kitty.” The sport has its origins in medieval England and Scotland. Bowls is popular in Australia, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The International Bowls Federation governs the sport, and the World Bowls Championships is a popular biennial event. Bowls is not an Olympic sport.
- Chess Boxing: Chess boxing, a hybrid sport that combines chess and boxing in alternating rounds, was first conceived by French comic book artist Enki Bilal in 1992 and made real in 2003 by Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh. The sport requires both intellectual and physical skills, with competitors alternating between playing chess and boxing. Chess boxing is popular in Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and India. The sport is governed by the World Chess Boxing Organisation, which organizes the Chess Boxing World Championships. Chess boxing is not an Olympic sport.
- Tug of War: Tug of war, a physical contest between two teams pulling on opposite ends of a rope, has ancient origins dating back to the Tang dynasty in China and ancient Egypt, Greece, and India. The sport is popular worldwide, particularly in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Asian countries. The International Tug of War Federation governs the sport, with competitions like the Tug of War World Championships. Tug of war was an Olympic sport between 1900 and 1920 but has since been removed from the program.
- CrossFit: CrossFit, a competitive and high-intensity fitness sport, was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai in the United States. The sport involves varied functional movements performed at high intensity. CrossFit is popular worldwide, with regional and international competitions, such as the CrossFit Games. CrossFit is not an Olympic sport.
- Obstacle Course Racing: Obstacle course racing, a sport involving a series of physical challenges such as running, climbing, crawling, and balancing, has roots in military training exercises. The sport is popular in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Some popular obstacle course racing events include Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash. Obstacle course racing is not an Olympic sport.
- Fistball: Fistball, a sport similar to volleyball but played with a closed fist, has its origins in Italy in the late 16th century. The sport is popular in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and South America. The International Fistball Association governs the sport, with competitions such as the Fistball World Championships. Fistball is not an Olympic sport.
- Petanque: Petanque, a French boules game played with metal balls and a small wooden target ball, originated in the early 20th century in the Provence region of France. The sport is most popular in France and other European countries. The Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal oversees the sport, with international events like the Petanque World Championships. Petanque is not an Olympic sport.
- Canoe Polo: Canoe polo, a water sport combining elements of canoeing and water polo, was created in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. The sport is popular in Europe, particularly in Germany and the United Kingdom. The International Canoe Federation governs the sport, overseeing events like the Canoe Polo World Championships. Canoe polo is not an Olympic sport.
- Kiteboarding: Kiteboarding, also known as kite surfing, was developed in the late 20th century, with pioneers such as the Legaignoux brothers and Cory Roeseler contributing to its creation. The sport involves riding on a board while being propelled by a large kite. Kiteboarding is popular in locations with consistent winds, such as the Dominican Republic, Tarifa, Spain, and Cape Town, South Africa. The Global Kitesports Association (GKA) oversees the sport, and the annual GKA Kite World Tour takes place across multiple locations. Kiteboarding is not an Olympic sport.
- Beach Handball: Beach handball, a variation of team handball played on the sand, was developed in the 1990s. The sport is popular in Mediterranean and South American countries. The International Handball Federation governs beach handball, with competitions such as the Beach Handball World Championships and the European Beach Handball Championships. Beach handball is not an Olympic sport but is included in the World Games program.
- Beach Soccer: Beach soccer, also known as beach football, originated in Brazil in the 1940s and has since become a popular global sport. The sport is played on beaches with teams of five players. The Beach Soccer Worldwide organization and FIFA govern the sport, with competitions such as the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and the Euro Beach Soccer League. Beach soccer is not an Olympic sport.
- Jukskei: Jukskei, a traditional South African sport dating back to the 18th century, involves throwing wooden pins at a target. The sport is primarily played in South African provinces like Gauteng and Mpumalanga. The South African Jukskei Board organizes national championships. Jukskei is not an Olympic sport.
- Motoball: Motoball, a combination of soccer and motorcycle racing, was developed in France in the 1930s. The sport is popular in European countries such as France, Germany, and Russia. The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) governs motoball, overseeing events like the European Motoball Championship. Motoball is not an Olympic sport.
- Field Archery: Field archery, an outdoor version of target archery, originated in the United States in the early 20th century. The sport is popular in Europe, the United States, and Australia. The International Field Archery Association (IFAA) oversees the sport, organizing international competitions like the World Field Archery Championship. Field archery is not an Olympic sport, but target archery is included in the Olympic program.
- Darts: Darts, a precision sport involving throwing small missiles at a round target, has been played in various forms since medieval times. The sport is most popular in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and British Darts Organisation (BDO) organize major tournaments such as the PDC World Darts Championship and the BDO World Darts Championship. Darts is not an Olympic sport.
- Snooker: Snooker, a cue sport derived from billiards, was created in the late 19th century in British India. The sport is popular in the United Kingdom, China, and other Commonwealth countries. The World Snooker Tour organizes major tournaments such as the World Snooker Championship and the UK Championship. Snooker is not an Olympic sport.
- Billiards: Billiards, a general term describing several cue sports involving hitting balls with a cue stick, has origins in 15th-century Europe. The sport is popular worldwide, with various forms such as pool, carom billiards, and snooker. The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) and the Union Mondiale de Billard (UMB) govern different forms of billiards. Billiards is not an Olympic sport.
- Table Football (Foosball): Table football, also known as foosball, was invented in the early 20th century as a tabletop version of soccer. The sport is popular worldwide, particularly in Europe and the Americas. The International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) organizes international competitions, including the ITSF World Cup. Table football is not an Olympic sport.
- Paintball: Paintball, a sport in which players eliminate opponents by hitting them with dye-filled capsules, was invented in the United States in the 1980s. The sport is popular globally, with players participating in recreational and competitive events. The Paintball World Cup and the National Collegiate Paintball Association Championships are popular tournaments. Paintball is not an Olympic sport.
- Airsoft: Airsoft, a sport involving players eliminating opponents with plastic pellet-firing airsoft guns, was developed in Japan in the 1970s. The sport is popular in Europe, North America, and Asia. International events include the Airsoft Players’ Choice Awards and the Nordic Airsoft Fair. Airsoft is not an Olympic sport.
- Quidditch: Quidditch, a team sport based on the fictional game from the Harry Potter series, was created in the United States in the early 21st century. The sport, which combines elements of rugby, dodgeball, and tag, has gained popularity in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. The International Quidditch Association governs the sport and organizes the Quidditch World Cup. Quidditch is not an Olympic sport.
- Roller Derby: Roller derby, a full-contact sport played on roller skates, was created in the United States in the 1930s. The sport has experienced a resurgence in popularity since the early 2000s, particularly in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) organizes international tournaments such as the WFTDA Championships. Roller derby is not an Olympic sport.
- Speedcubing: Speedcubing, the competitive sport of solving twisty puzzles such as the Rubik’s Cube as quickly as possible, emerged in the early 1980s. The sport is popular worldwide, with the World Cube Association (WCA) governing the sport and organizing international competitions like the World Rubik’s Cube Championship. Speedcubing is not an Olympic sport.
What are the most popular non-Olympic sports?
The most popular non-Olympic sports include American football, cricket, rugby, squash, lacrosse, pickleball, ultimate frisbee, floorball, netball, and sepak takraw.
How many different non-Olympic sports are there?
Our non-Olympic sports list includes 41 unique sports.