Most Popular Sports in Canada: Stats

most popular sports in canada
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What are the most popular sports in Canada? Most would say it is Hockey and they are pretty close but most Canadians have fallen in love with other sports that are far from being on Ice.

1. Golf

Let’s start with golf. It might surprise some, but golf is the king of sports in Canada, with almost 1.5 million adults hitting the links in 2005. It’s a sport that seems to appeal more to men, who make up about 78% of those players. But it’s not just about the tranquility of the golf course; it’s about a shared passion that connects people.

most popular sports in canada statistics

2. Hockey

Right behind golf, ice hockey skates in strong. It’s not just a sport in Canada; it’s a part of the country’s soul.

With 1.3 million players, ice hockey is a thrilling display of skill and speed that captivates millions. It’s home to legends like Wayne Gretzky, whose talent on the ice has inspired countless Canadians.

Ice Hockey has been in Canada since the late 1800s and there is an estimated number of 600 thousand (600.000) players.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the main league that covers most Canadian spectators and fans and it is somehow worshiped in the country.  In Alberta, Hockey is a house favorite, with 44.7 percent of the population following closely every season. Then it comes Quebec, with 37.9 percent and Atlantic Canada with 37.7 percent. In B.C., just 24.3 percent follow hockey, and in the other prairie provinces, 25 percent follow the sport. In Ontario, only 24.3 percent say they follow hockey.

Canada is always a favorite in the Olympic games for Ice Hockey bets.

3. Soccer

Then there’s the world’s favorite sport, soccer, which has been steadily gaining ground. It’s the kind of sport that anyone can join in on, from kids in schoolyards to adults in community leagues. Canada’s got a growing soccer scene, with major league teams and a national squad that’s starting to make waves internationally.

Soccer was introduced in late 1800 in Canada, being the most famous player Christine Sinclair. Around 850 thousand players enjoy soccer in Canada.

The most recognized soccer league in Canada is the Major League Soccer (MLS) which includes Canadian franchises, including Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, and CF Montréal. But it is in B.C., where 13 percent of the population follows soccer and this is the highest percentage in the country.

Although Canada hasn’t yet come up with a strong international team in worldwide events such as the World Cup, it is growing in strength and popularity, participating in the last World.

4. Basketball

It is not a coincidence that a Canadian, James Naismith, -ok, Canadian-American – had invented basketball as we know it (1892).

Basketball, another crowd-puller, and especially the NBA betting has seen its popularity skyrocket, mainly after the Toronto Raptors’ NBA Championship win in 2019. Steve Nash, a twice-NBA MVP originally from Canada, is one of the most admired figures in basketball in Canada.

There is an estimated number of 450 thousand basketball players in Canada.

5. Baseball

Baseball too, with roots going deep into Canada’s history, remains a beloved pastime. The Toronto Blue Jays’ World Series wins in the early ’90s are still celebrated, and players like Larry Walker have shown that Canadians can shine in this classic American sport.

Baseball was introduced in Canada around 1860 and around 200 thousand players enjoy this American sport.

6. Tennis

Tennis is a Canadian favorite, especially since Milos Raonic came to the big scene as a Wimbledon finalist.

It is estimated that around 1 million people enjoy tennis, a sport that was introduced in Canada in the late 1800s.

The Role of Gender in the Most Popular Sports in Canada

Gender differences are obvious when it comes to most played sports. Among women, sports such as swimming, golf, soccer, volleyball and downhill skiing seem to be the favorites. While men are mainly into ice hockey, basketball and baseball.

To give some of the stats provided by the Government of Canada, the most popular sport for men (ice hockey) had a much higher participation rate (26%) than did swimming (19%) for women.

Golf and soccer seem to attract both, women and men.

Emerging Sports in Canada

Emerging sports like mountain boarding show Canadians are always up for trying something new, keeping the sports scene vibrant and exciting. In 1998, 81,000 people reported participating in the sport. By 2005, this number had more than doubled, reaching 167,000.

Other popular sports engage relatively few active participants in Canada but attract many spectators. Sports such as football, gymnastics, and tennis are typical examples. They each attract between 200,000 and 400,000 active participants.

About half of Canadians Participate in One Sport

In the last Survey Series on People and their Communities, collected from May 5 to July 25, 2023, Canadian people participated in some type of sport in the previous 12 months’ pre-data collection. More than half (55%) older than 15 years old preferred sports such as soccer, ice hockey, swimming and running.

Overall, men (62%) were more keen on participating in sports than women (49%).

Among those who participated in some type of sport over the previous 12 months, swimming was the most common, reported by over one-third (35%) of people. This was closely followed by cycling (33%) and running (27%).