The number of athletes in the world is difficult to pinpoint precisely, but it's estimated that the number could be in the billions. The reason for such a high number is due to the vast number of sports that people participate in, and the different levels of competition that exist.
Starting at the grassroots level, children around the world engage in a variety of physical activities, from organized sports leagues to informal games with friends. Many schools and communities encourage physical activity, which can include a variety of sports such as soccer, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, and more. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 80% of adolescents worldwide are not active enough, but even with that high percentage, the number of children and youth that participate in sports is still quite high.
As these children grow up, many continue to participate in sports either as amateurs or on a more casual level. Amateur sports leagues provide opportunities for people to compete in a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and more. These leagues can be organized by local community organizations, work groups, or social clubs, and allow people to engage in healthy competition and physical activity.
Collegiate sports programs also provide opportunities for athletes to participate at a higher level of competition. Many colleges and universities around the world offer sports scholarships to talented athletes, which can provide them with the opportunity to play at the college level while also earning a degree. According to the NCAA, there are over 460,000 student-athletes competing in NCAA sports across all divisions in the United States alone.
As athletes progress to a more professional level of competition, the number of participants decreases, but it's still quite significant. Professional athletes are often paid for their participation and compete at a high level of skill and ability. Team sports such as soccer, basketball, and football are popular around the world and attract large numbers of participants.
In recent years, the popularity of esports has also exploded, with millions of people around the world participating in video game competitions. Esports athletes compete in a variety of games, including League of Legends, Dota 2, and Fortnite, and can earn significant amounts of money through sponsorships and prize money.
Even as people age, many continue to participate in sports and physical activity. There are senior leagues for many sports, including basketball, softball, and tennis, as well as a growing number of senior-focused fitness programs.
In conclusion, the number of athletes in the world could be in the billions due to the many different levels of participation and the sheer number of sports that people engage in. From childhood sports leagues to amateur and collegiate competitions, to professional sports and esports, people around the world are drawn to the benefits of physical activity, competition, and personal growth that sports provide.