Jason Whitlock Says Dumbest Thing Ever: Basketball Is More Popular Than Soccer, Worldwide

  • Jake O'Donnell

This headline is misleading. Jason Whitlock just said the two dumbest things ever: Basketball is more popular than soccer AND that basketball is not popular here in America.

Hearing this made me puke a little bit in my mouth, so read the transcript of his interview with Colin Cowherd while I rinse out my mouth/ears.

[The Herd] Basketball is underachieving. basketball — i’m not saying it should be as popular as football, both college and professional, but it should be closer. basketball is a great sport. basketball is played worldwide. it’s probably the most popular sport, i think even more popular than soccer and it’s not as popular here at home because the game is broken.

Ok, all better. Did you read it? You did? Crazy, right? Regardless of whatever unscientific metric Mr. Whitlock is using to base this incredibly inaccurate statement on, or the greater point he was trying to make about basketball’s pro/amateur dichotomy, the fact that 3.2 billion people watched the World Cup — 800 million people shy of the mark the London Olympics set two years earlier — should tell you everything you need to know about the popularity of the sport.

Is he basing this (ridiculous) claim on the idea that China — the most populous country on Earth — loves basketball, and therefore the sport is technically popular with more people? Does he realize that China also loves soccer? Does he know that the English Premier League alone garners nearly $1.47 billion in revenue from their TV deal with Asian broadcasters? Is Jason Whitlock aware that there are at least three other European domestic leagues — and the Champions League — that have their own massive revenue streams from the most populous continent on Earth? Has he heard of India? Africa? South America? Europe? Antarctica? Does he know that the NBA just signed its first TV deal with a China broadcasting company for literally a quarter of the value of the EPL’s deal?

Not to go by “viewership numbers” or “revenue” or even “a basic understanding of what non-Americans are into,” but soccer has the global market cornered without question. Basketball is a distant second (if not third, behind cricket). This is an absurd idea to throw out there, which only highlights this dude’s ignorance. It’s either that, or he’s a genius and he’s subtly trying to stir up controversy/attention for his new website.

If that’s the case, well played Mr. Whitlock. If not, wow.


– We reached out to Jason Whitlock, who clarified that he misspoke when he said he thinks basketball is more popular than soccer.

Jake O'Donnell

Jake was hatched from a large egg in 1999, fully formed. His hobbies include sports, writing, and accumulating hobbies. He considers his body is a temple. A very oddly shaped temple. (@_jakeodonnell)