How Many Hockey Players Are There In The World? [Updated!]

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Hockey, the ‘the fastest and most exciting game on ice’, is a Winter Olympic sport and one of the most popular games globally. With over 200 million players around the world, it would seem that everyone is keen to give it a try!

But how many hockey players are there in the world? And how qualified are they to play the game?

The following infographic from nikestats provides an overview of hockey‘s global player base and the development of the game globally over the last century.

It shows how many different countries/territories play the game, the number of registered players, and how many actually play the sport. It also looks at the sport’s popularity across Europe, North America, and Asia.

This data-driven piece will help you understand the sport, its history, and its global reach.

The Evolution Of Hockey

Hockey, often hailed as ‘the fastest and most exciting game on ice’, is played across the world and across centuries. While its rules have remained largely unchanged since its inception in the 1800s, the game itself has evolved greatly over the years.

The origins of hockey date back to the latter half of the 1800s in Canada, with the first hockey game ever played taking place in Montreal in 1875. The game’s popularity soon spread to the United States, which became the dominant force in professional hockey in the early 1900s. The first hockey superstitions – such as crossing one’s fingers and wearing one’s sweater inside-out – were also born in this era. As the 20th century approached, hockey became an important part of Canadian culture and the country’s first Olympic gold medal was won in 1908.

Since then, the sport has continued to grow in popularity across the world. The International Ice Hockey Federation, the governing body of the sport, estimates that there are currently over 200 million players globally and it is one of the fastest growing sports, especially popular in Asia. To this day, hockey remains the nation’s favorite winter sport. In fact, according to the most recent figures from the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), there are currently over 36 million registered players worldwide. And Canada continues to dominate the sport, with the most players (over 70 million) and medals (126 total) earned by any country. The U.S.A. is a distant second, with Sweden, Finland, and Russia rounding out the top five.

The Global Reach Of Hockey

Hockey is now practiced in more countries than ever before. In fact, the IIHF states that there are currently over 200 countries that play the game. While many of these countries only practice the game recreationally, it is still an incredibly diverse group. And as more people have gotten access to the internet, the world’s largest hockey communities have flourished online.

The spread of hockey around the world can be attributed to a number of factors. One is the simplicity of the game, which has made it readily accessible to people of all ages and genders. Another is the rise of professional hockey, which has provided players with stable, long-term contracts. Finally, the growth of women’s hockey has made the game more appealing to a wider audience.

It is important to note that some countries have more than one version of hockey. For example, Finland plays a variant called Kaari which is a combination of hockey and football. Similarly, Sweden has both a hockey and rinkswimming league. The IIHF also notes that “hockey has become one of the most popular sports not only in Europe but also worldwide, thanks to the outstanding quality of the game and its worldwide fame.” Furthermore, the body adds “that the continuous development of hockey, both on and off the ice, has played a major role in making the sport more widely known and appreciated.”

How Many Hockey Players Are There In The World?

The number of hockey players around the world is continuing to rise as the IIHF notes that over 36 million people are registered to play the game. What’s more is that today, almost two-thirds of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24. This makes hockey arguably the most popular sport globally among young people. The only team sport to match hockey‘s global reach is soccer, which has an estimated total of 400 million players worldwide.

The Most Popular Countries

Hockey is now practiced in more countries than ever before. According to the IIHF, there are currently over 200 countries that play the game. While many of these countries only practice the game recreationally, it is still an incredibly diverse group. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.

The U.S.A. is the most populated country in the world, with over 320 million residents. It also happens to be one of the most popular countries when it comes to hockey, with over 70 million people registered to play the game. This makes the U.S.A. the 7th most populated country in the world, and the 3rd most populated country in North America, trailing only Canada and Mexico.

Finland is the second most populated country in the world, with an estimated population of over 50 million. It is also one of the most popular countries in the world when it comes to hockey, with over 36 million people registered to play the game. This makes Finland the 4th most populated country in the world, and the most populated country in Northern Europe, trailing only Sweden and Norway.

Russia is the third most populated country in the world, with an estimated population of almost 142 million. It is also the most populated country in the world, behind only the U.S.A. and China. Over 33.9 million people in Russia are registered to play hockey, placing it third in the world, behind only the U.S.A. and Canada.

As you can see, Canada, the U.S.A., and Finland are the top three most populated countries in the world, when it comes to playing hockey. This is likely because of the sport’s popularity in the region. Moreover, Canada has the highest average household income in the world, so it is no wonder that 100 million Canadians have registered to play hockey. The next highest average household income is in the U.S.A., with Sweden, Finland, and Norway following closely behind. This is likely because of the game’s popularity in these countries. It should also be noted that many Canadian players play for U.S. based teams, which is one of the reasons the game is so popular in America.

The Least Popular Countries

Although hockey is now practiced in over 200 countries, not all are created equal. To determine the least popular countries, we need to look at the number of players registered to play the game. According to the IIHF, there are currently over 75 million registered players worldwide, but only about 5 million of them actually play the game. This makes it the least popular sport, globally, among those registered to play.

The countries with the lowest number of registered players are Afghanistan, North Korea, and Qatar. Only about 15,000 people in Afghanistan and 8,000 in North Korea are registered to play hockey. These numbers are likely much smaller, considering that many of these countries do not have the necessary infrastructure, such as specialized ice rinks, to support a professional league. (2) As for Qatar, only about 5,000 people are registered to play the game in the tiny Persian Gulf country. This is compared to about 70,000 in Cambodia and over 33,000 in Burundi.

As you can see, there are a few African countries in the list as well, with Angola, Ghana, and Nigeria all registered under 10,000 players. Similarly, only about 4,000 people in Bhutan, Brunei, and Cambodia are registered to play hockey. (3) Many of these countries certainly do play the game recreationally, but the lack of an organized league, along with the expensive price of admission, makes it hard for the region’s residents to participate on a regular basis. (4) Moreover, some of these countries’ first-past-the-post system for selecting MPs, where only the person who wins the election, gets the job, can further disenfranchise the population. Consider that Afghanistan’s last presidential election was marred by claims of fraud and intimidation. (5) All things considered, it’s a wonder that any hockey players, at all, are registered in these countries!

In conclusion, let’s take a look at how many professional hockey players there are globally, and how they are doing, based on the 2017-18 season.

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