Global Odd Index

The Professional Athlete Index

In this Olympic year, we wanted to understand the statistics behind truly mastering a sport and to celebrate the achievements of the few who do, by calculating the chances of someone being a professional athlete in their country of birth. We then added to the study by calculating where most professionals come from for a range of globally popular sports.

Making it to the top of a sport requires decades of extreme dedication and many thousands of hours of training and practice, which must all be in addition to a complementary set of in-built physical features that mean some people, and not others, have the tools to succeed.

Beyond physical attributes, your country of birth can heavily influence whether the ecosystem is favourable to excelling in a sport. An almost religious love of football across the nation ensures Brazil continues to produce elite footballers by the hundreds, despite limited investment in youth academies in comparison with other countries.

In many places, a sport’s popularity dictates how much financial investment it receives, and these factors combine to facilitate easier progression for budding athletes under the right conditions, or hinder those without.

Make it through these challenges to the upper stratosphere of athletes and you are still at the mercy of injuries or poor form that can limit performance levels and success.

There are obstacles at every turn, meaning only a tiny fraction of amateur sportsmen and women ever turn professional. Here are the probabilities of becoming a professional in a range of globally popular sports around the world.

Basketball

Number of players per team 5
Current Olympic champions USA

Famous for its speed, finesse and intensity, basketball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, having been popularised by giants of the game such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Over 450 million people play basketball around the world, with professional leagues and national teams established in 213 countries. Physical attributes are influential at the top level; the average player height in the 2019/20 American NBA season was 1.99m, while the tallest player to ever grace the NBA was Manute Bol at 2.31m. Recent decades have seen the explosion of the sport in China, where it is estimated that over 300 million people play the sport casually.

Percentage of top tier basketball players

This map shows the percentage of current top tier basketball players that come from each country.

Country
Percentage of top tier basketball players globally
Percentage of top tier basketball players globally
USA
26.42%
China
3.92%
Argentina
3.77%
Serbia
3.41%
Brazil
2.77%
2.57%
Montenegro
2.57%
Poland
2.34%
Lithuania
2.14%
Slovenia
2.06%
France
2.02%
Czech Republic
1.96%
Philippines
1.85%
Germany
1.81%
Turkey
1.81%
South Korea
1.76%
New Zealand
1.74%
Hungary
1.69%
Italy
1.66%
Luxembourg
1.63%
Ukraine
1.57%
Latvia
1.50%
Belgium
1.43%
Israel
1.43%
Greece
1.41%
Iran
1.40%
Canada
1.39%
Finland
1.30%
Spain
1.28%
Australia
1.26%
Croatia
1.23%
Russia
1.17%
Austria
1.10%
UK
1.05%
Estonia
0.99%
Mexico
0.95%
Puerto Rico
0.83%
Bosnia
0.75%
Georgia
0.64%
Senegal
0.45%
Dominican Republic
0.42%
Nigeria
0.39%
Netherlands
0.25%
Belarus
0.20%
Sweden
0.20%
Denmark
0.17%
Uruguay
0.17%
Slovakia
0.16%
Switzerland
0.14%
Ivory Coast
0.14%
Cuba
0.13%
Cyprus
0.13%
Tunisia
0.13%
Macedonia
0.12%
Cameroon
0.11%
Kazakhstan
0.10%
Colombia
0.09%
Bahamas
0.08%
Jamaica
0.08%
Bulgaria
0.07%
Chile
0.07%
Iceland
0.07%
Panama
0.04%
Haiti
0.03%
Kenya
0.03%
Morocco
0.02%
Paraguay
0.02%
Trinidad & Tobago
0.02%
Albania
0.01%
Barbados
0.01%
South Africa
0.01%
Ecuador
0.01%
Egypt
0.01%
Ghana
0.01%
Hong Kong
0.01%
Moldova
0.01%
Peru
0.01%
Portugal
0.01%
Romania
0.01%
El Salvador
0.01%
Bolivia
0.00%
Vietnam
0.00%
Costa Rica
0.00%
Uzbekistan
0.00%
Algeria
0.00%
Ethiopia
0.00%
Guatemala
0.00%
Indonesia
0.00%
India
0.00%
Ireland
0.00%
Malaysia
0.00%
Namibia
0.00%
Norway
0.00%
Saudi Arabia
0.00%
Thailand
0.00%
Taiwan
0.00%
Afghanistan
%
Angola
%
Armenia
%
Azerbaijan
%
Bangladesh
%
Belize
%
Benin
%
Bhutan
%
Botswana
%
Brunei Darussalam
%
Burkina Faso
%
BDI
%
Cambodia
%
Central African Republic
%
Chad
%
Democratic Republic of the Congo
%
Djibouti
%
East Timor
%
Equatorial Guinea
%
Eritrea
%
Fiji
%
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
%
Gabon
%
Gambia
%
Greenland
%
Guinea
%
Guinea Bissau
%
Guyana
-%
Honduras
%
Iran
%
Iraq
%
Jordan
%
Kuwait
%
Kosovo
%
Kyrgyzstan
%
Laos
%
Lebanon
%
Lesotho
%
Liberia
%
Libya
%
Madagascar
%
Malawi
%
Mali
%
Mauritania
%
Mongolia
%
Mozambique
%
Myanmar
%
Nepal
%
New Caledonia
%
Nicaragua
%
Niger
%
North Korea
%
Northern Cyprus
%
Oman
%
Pakistan
%
Papua New Guinea
%
Qatar
%
Republic of the Congo
%
Rwanda
%
Sierra Leone
%
Solomon Islands
%
Somalia
%
South Sudan
%
Sri Lanka
%
Somaliland
%
Sudan
%
Suriname
-%
Swaziland
%
Syria
%
Tajikistan
%
Tanzania
%
Togo
%
Turkmenistan
%
Uganda
%
United Arab Emirates
%
Vanuatu
%
West Bank
%
Venezuela
%
Western Sahara
%
Yemen
%
Zambia
%
Zimbabwe
%
Falkland Islands
%
Odds of being a top tier basketball player (1:X)

This map shows the odds of being a top tier basketball player in each country, ranked in order of probability. 1 in 80 men born in Montenegro in the study’s age bracket are top basketball players, the best odds in the world.

Country
Odds of being a top tier basketball player (1:X)
Odds of being a top tier basketball player (1:X)
Montenegro
79
Luxembourg
210
Slovenia
662
Estonia
1,032
Latvia
1,112
Serbia
1,319
Lithuania
1,355
Georgia
2,375
New Zealand
2,402
Finland
2,527
Croatia
2,787
Bosnia
2,964
Czech Republic
3,761
Iceland
4,381
Hungary
4,571
Puerto Rico
4,908
Cyprus
5,228
Greece
5,325
Bahamas
5,326
Austria
5,624
Belgium
5,950
Israel
6,371
USA
9,298
Senegal
10,094
Argentina
13,198
Poland
13,316
Australia
14,719
Barbados
15,738
Macedonia
15,741
Canada
15,878
Jamaica
17,570
Uruguay
20,984
Ukraine
21,745
Spain
22,245
Slovakia
23,135
Italy
23,892
France
26,783
Denmark
27,845
Turkey
27,970
Germany
31,133
33,792
Philippines
36,087
Dominican Republic
36,143
Iran
36,782
Sweden
37,670
Belarus
37,907
Switzerland
40,993
South Korea
43,161
UK
50,253
Netherlands
57,275
Trinidad & Tobago
63,566
Bulgaria
83,268
Cuba
84,136
Russia
86,821
Brazil
91,301
Tunisia
101,725
Panama
104,032
Mexico
177,626
Kazakhstan
196,462
Moldova
268,418
Albania
272,912
Chile
293,170
Ivory Coast
312,631
China
347,214
Cameroon
395,634
Hong Kong
401,480
Paraguay
467,812
Haiti
578,130
Colombia
727,244
Portugal
760,961
Nigeria
893,462
El Salvador
1,006,852
Peru
1,011,166
Romania
1,588,807
Morocco
1,831,653
Ecuador
2,073,173
Kenya
2,572,044
Ghana
4,292,264
South Africa
6,820,247
Egypt
11,197,542
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International Results
Percentage of top tier athletes globally Odds of being a top tier athlete (1:X)
# Country Country Code
13 Guyana GUY - - - - 0.27 - - - 0 0 0 0 130,535 0 0 0
52 Suriname SUR - - - - 0.27 - - - 0 0 0 0 63,939 0 0 0
69 Albania ALB 0.18 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.30 5,150 0 272,912 0 0 0 38,988 45,486
70 Argentina ARG 4.38 0.00 3.77 3.76 0.53 0.90 0.35 0.10 3,626 0 13,198 42,552 2,276,485 267,823 57,634 2,276,485
71 Australia AUS 1.01 1.57 1.26 1.26 1.59 6.27 2.59 2.40 5,838 12,356 14,719 21,983 282,104 14,225 2,894 35,264
72 Austria AUT 1.12 0.72 1.10 1.26 0.53 0.69 0.36 1.15 1,770 9,015 5,624 15,776 283,946 43,685 7,012 24,692
73 Belgium BEL 1.20 0.76 1.43 1.54 0.00 0.26 0.91 7.00 2,260 11,809 5,950 17,713 0 155,862 3,784 5,567
74 Bulgaria BGR 1.18 1.23 0.07 0.88 0.53 0.00 0.27 0.70 1,470 4,670 83,268 19,985 249,802 0 8,191 35,687
75 Bahamas BHS 0.00 0.00 0.08 0.11 0.00 0.00 0.33 0.00 0 0 5,326 12,427 0 0 505 0
76 Bosnia BIH 0.50 0.00 0.75 0.35 0.27 0.00 0.08 0.45 1,421 0 2,964 20,443 204,417 0 10,760 22,714
77 Belarus BLR 0.06 2.31 0.20 0.63 0.27 0.00 0.79 0.85 40,136 3,379 37,907 37,907 682,304 0 3,834 40,136
78 Bolivia BOL 1.53 0.00 0.00 0.42 0.00 0.00 0.08 0.00 3,731 0 0 136,452 0 0 86,181 0
79 Brazil BRA 5.14 0.00 2.77 2.07 13.79 0.16 1.29 0.00 15,713 0 91,301 393,057 445,968 7,730,098 79,420 0
80 Barbados BRB 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.18 0.00 15,738 0 15,738 15,738 0 0 394 0
81 Canada CAN 0.69 11.36 1.39 1.37 1.86 1.21 1.86 0.70 10,185 2,036 15,878 51,703 288,053 87,669 4,802 144,027
82 Switzerland CHE 0.81 2.23 0.14 1.47 0.53 0.53 0.90 2.00 2,298 2,734 40,993 12,689 266,448 53,291 2,626 13,323
83 Chile CHL 1.75 0.00 0.07 0.70 0.00 0.42 0.20 0.00 3,512 0 293,170 87,952 0 219,878 38,240 0
84 China CHN 1.36 0.01 3.92 1.58 0.80 2.16 3.30 0.00 319,615 124,649,428 347,214 2,769,988 41,549,810 3,040,231 167,091 0
85 Ivory Coast CIV 0.42 0.00 0.14 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.10 33,589 0 312,631 4,064,197 0 0 508,025 2,032,099
86 South Africa ZAF 1.46 0.00 0.01 0.77 0.27 7.80 1.41 1.05 16,240 0 6,820,247 310,012 6,820,247 46,084 21,314 324,775
87 Vietnam VNM 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.11 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.00 0 0 0 1,007,298 0 0 137,360 0
88 Cameroon CMR 0.37 0.00 0.11 0.00 0.27 0.00 0.09 0.20 37,325 0 395,634 0 3,956,335 0 197,818 989,085
89 Colombia COL 3.23 0.00 0.09 0.81 0.00 0.42 0.42 3.85 6,284 0 727,244 252,955 0 727,244 61,894 75,559
90 Costa Rica CRI 1.06 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.08 0.10 1,440 0 0 437,383 0 0 23,021 218,692
91 Uzbekistan UZB 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.60 0.27 0.00 0.20 0.15 300,588 0 0 194,499 3,306,461 0 71,881 1,102,154
92 Cuba CUB 0.01 0.00 0.13 0.07 0.00 0.00 0.39 0.05 252,405 0 84,136 504,808 0 0 11,345 1,009,615
93 Cyprus CYP 0.03 0.00 0.13 0.14 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.05 6,970 0 5,228 15,681 0 0 1,494 62,719
94 USA USA 1.42 5.66 26.42 9.59 38.73 23.09 21.99 2.25 55,393 45,526 9,298 82,379 154,037 51,346 4,520 499,762
95 Czech Republic CZE 1.84 5.69 1.96 2.00 0.80 0.32 1.15 1.30 1,276 1,355 3,761 11,810 224,377 112,189 2,590 25,891
96 Germany DEU 1.42 1.09 1.81 4.53 0.53 2.48 2.95 3.25 12,667 54,399 31,133 40,062 2,583,925 109,955 7,737 79,506
97 Denmark DNK 1.16 2.46 0.17 0.21 0.53 2.00 0.44 2.45 1,343 2,073 27,845 74,253 222,756 11,725 4,501 9,093
98 Uruguay URY 2.60 0.00 0.17 0.32 0.00 0.00 0.06 0.55 451 0 20,984 37,304 0 0 25,826 30,522
99 Dominican Republic DOM 0.01 0.00 0.42 0.35 0.00 0.05 0.05 0.00 686,706 0 36,143 137,342 0 1,373,411 57,226 0
100 Algeria DZA 2.39 0.00 0.00 0.11 0.00 0.00 0.24 0.30 3,741 0 0 856,456 0 0 47,582 428,228
101 Ecuador ECU 1.60 0.00 0.01 0.42 0.27 0.00 0.22 0.85 4,508 0 2,073,173 172,765 2,073,173 0 42,311 121,952
102 Egypt EGY 0.07 0.00 0.01 0.67 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.05 589,345 0 11,197,542 589,345 0 0 260,409 11,197,542
103 Spain ESP 2.47 1.32 1.28 4.78 0.53 2.16 2.95 5.20 3,677 22,632 22,245 19,138 1,301,294 63,479 3,897 25,026
104 Estonia EST 0.05 1.05 0.99 0.42 0.00 0.05 0.39 0.90 6,705 1,021 1,032 7,822 0 93,853 1,068 5,215
105 Ethiopia ETH 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.81 0.60 8,842,898 0 0 0 0 0 43,243 1,473,817
106 Finland FIN 0.90 6.93 1.30 0.63 0.00 0.90 1.16 0.70 1,166 498 2,527 16,699 0 17,681 1,144 21,470
107 France FRA 2.35 2.37 2.02 6.53 0.80 3.64 3.38 7.65 7,363 23,936 26,783 26,639 1,651,535 71,807 6,486 32,384
108 UK GBR 2.65 1.01 1.05 3.58 3.18 10.17 3.93 2.60 6,357 54,821 50,253 47,297 402,013 24,997 5,421 92,773
109 Georgia GEO 0.16 0.64 0.64 0.28 1.06 0.00 0.04 0.30 6,658 5,469 2,375 38,278 76,554 0 34,025 51,037
110 Ghana GHA 0.61 0.00 0.01 0.25 0.00 0.00 0.13 0.00 24,528 0 4,292,264 613,181 0 0 143,076 0
111 Greece GRC 0.98 0.00 1.41 0.60 0.00 0.05 0.77 0.70 2,445 0 5,325 40,399 0 686,768 3,925 49,056
112 Guatemala GTM 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.05 0.11 0.55 572,193 0 0 1,716,578 0 1,716,578 68,664 156,053
113 Hong Kong HKG 0.01 0.00 0.01 0.28 0.00 0.16 0.06 0.00 200,741 0 401,480 50,186 0 133,827 30,884 0
114 Croatia HRV 1.37 1.48 1.23 1.30 0.00 0.00 0.33 0.70 802 2,442 2,787 8,510 0 0 4,199 22,490
115 Haiti HTI 0.04 0.00 0.03 0.04 0.27 0.00 0.02 0.00 157,673 0 578,130 1,734,389 1,734,389 0 346,879 0
116 Hungary HUN 0.99 2.31 1.69 0.70 0.27 0.00 0.71 0.85 2,504 3,508 4,571 35,421 708,405 0 4,401 41,672
117 Indonesia IDN 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.18 0.00 0.21 0.06 0.00 4,981,770 0 0 5,978,123 0 7,472,654 2,135,045 0
118 India IND 1.75 0.00 0.00 2.28 0.00 2.64 1.07 0.00 360,494 0 0 2,778,570 0 3,612,141 743,240 0
119 Ireland IRL 0.87 0.00 0.00 0.21 0.53 0.79 0.86 0.40 2,236 0 0 93,133 279,396 37,254 2,867 69,850
120 Iran IRN 1.55 0.00 1.40 0.14 0.27 0.00 0.22 0.40 10,605 0 36,782 1,176,999 4,707,991 0 96,082 588,500
121 Iceland ISL 1.13 0.78 0.07 0.00 0.00 0.16 0.12 0.60 82 388 4,381 0 0 8,762 940 2,191
122 Israel ISR 0.12 1.02 1.43 0.95 0.00 0.00 0.30 0.65 23,842 9,377 6,371 30,906 0 0 12,094 64,188
123 Italy ITA 1.10 1.90 1.66 7.13 0.27 1.53 2.59 9.30 11,529 21,877 23,892 17,890 3,631,378 125,221 6,208 19,525
124 Jamaica JAM 0.08 0.00 0.08 0.04 0.53 0.00 1.90 0.00 5,348 0 17,570 122,984 61,492 0 286 0
125 Japan JPN 1.79 0.54 2.57 3.05 1.06 7.96 7.84 0.65 15,420 168,958 33,792 91,277 1,985,246 52,590 4,477 610,846
126 Kazakhstan KAZ 0.03 1.02 0.10 0.56 0.53 0.00 0.28 0.90 176,816 19,868 196,462 110,510 884,076 0 27,628 98,232
127 South Korea KOR 1.35 0.30 1.76 1.23 1.59 6.91 0.51 0.00 17,910 267,261 43,161 198,537 1,158,126 53,045 59,904 0
128 Kenya KEN 0.04 0.00 0.03 0.14 0.00 0.05 4.32 0.05 701,467 0 2,572,044 1,929,033 0 7,716,130 7,899 7,716,130
129 Lithuania LTU 0.04 1.39 2.14 0.46 0.27 0.00 0.00 0.55 22,121 2,195 1,355 20,420 265,446 0 3,124 24,132
130 Luxembourg LUX 0.06 0.00 1.63 0.07 0.00 0.00 0.07 0.80 1,949 0 210 15,589 0 0 1,949 1,949
131 Latvia LVA 0.05 1.15 1.50 0.28 0.27 0.00 0.27 0.55 11,713 1,524 1,112 19,033 152,256 0 2,457 13,842
132 Morocco MAR 0.33 0.00 0.02 0.49 0.00 0.11 0.95 0.15 38,972 0 1,831,653 261,666 0 1,831,653 16,961 1,221,102
133 Moldova MDA 0.07 0.00 0.01 0.18 0.80 0.00 0.08 0.00 12,783 0 268,418 53,684 89,473 0 15,790 0
134 Mexico MEX 1.73 0.80 0.95 0.91 0.27 0.47 0.63 0.75 31,220 220,764 177,626 594,362 15,453,390 1,717,044 108,067 1,030,227
135 Macedonia MKD 0.19 0.00 0.12 0.21 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.45 3,207 0 15,741 28,858 0 0 0 19,239
136 Montenegro MNE 0.25 0.00 2.57 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.45 258 0 79 0 0 0 2,604 2,026
137 Malaysia MYS 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.11 0.00 0.58 0.14 0.10 704,705 0 0 1,174,508 0 320,321 113,663 1,761,762
138 Namibia NAM 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.08 0.55 3,236 0 0 22,644 0 0 1,259 2,059
139 Nigeria NGA 3.44 3.44 0.39 0.18 0.27 0.00 0.69 0.00 32,622 0 893,462 6,432,923 32,164,612 0 204,871 0
140 Netherlands NLD 1.81 0.85 0.25 2.18 0.80 0.79 1.21 5.65 2,539 17,802 57,275 21,248 439,098 87,820 4,826 11,658
141 Norway NOR 1.50 2.48 0.00 0.25 0.27 0.63 0.71 1.95 777 1,542 0 47,549 332,834 27,737 2,068 8,535
142 New Zealand NZL 0.14 1.47 1.74 0.46 1.06 0.90 0.64 2.80 9,312 2,983 2,402 29,367 95,440 22,457 2,652 6,818
143 Panama PAN 0.09 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.05 0.60 16,006 0 104,032 0 0 0 37,830 34,678
144 Peru PER 1.88 1.88 0.01 0.53 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.00 1,880 0 1,011,166 67,412 0 0 23,516 0
145 Philippines PHL 0.00 0.00 1.85 0.21 0.27 0.32 0.08 0.00 6,098,472 0 36,087 1,016,413 6,098,472 1,016,413 338,805 0
146 Poland POL 1.47 0.26 2.34 1.30 3.18 0.11 1.91 1.85 6,753 123,890 13,316 77,013 237,455 1,424,727 6,597 77,013
147 Puerto Rico PRI 0.01 0.00 0.83 0.04 0.00 0.05 0.24 0.50 186,458 0 4,908 372,915 0 372,915 6,781 37,292
149 Portugal PRT 1.40 0.00 0.01 1.16 0.00 0.47 0.87 1.45 1,889 0 760,961 23,060 0 84,552 3,883 26,241
151 Paraguay PRY 1.36 0.00 0.02 0.07 0.27 0.05 0.03 0.00 2,400 0 467,812 467,812 935,623 935,624 133,661 0
153 Romania ROU 1.47 0.72 0.01 1.79 0.00 0.00 0.49 0.05 3,766 25,220 1,588,807 31,154 0 0 14,187 1,588,807
155 Russia RUS 1.38 17.30 1.17 3.65 13.53 0.00 2.01 2.20 23,401 6,153 86,821 89,325 182,152 0 20,463 211,131
157 Saudi Arabia SAU 2.62 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.07 0.60 4,866 0 0 0 0 0 228,960 305,280
159 Senegal SEN 0.46 0.00 0.45 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.06 0.00 3,136 0 10,094 0 0 0 31,833 0
161 El Salvador SLV 0.02 0.00 0.01 0.07 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.60 143,837 0 1,006,852 503,427 0 0 251,714 83,905
163 Serbia SRB 2.63 0.76 3.41 1.47 0.27 0.00 0.30 0.65 546 6,233 1,319 9,794 411,314 0 6,050 31,640
165 Slovakia SVK 1.13 4.74 0.16 1.23 0.00 0.05 0.25 0.65 1,075 839 23,135 9,916 0 347,011 6,089 26,694
167 Slovenia SVN 0.23 2.58 2.06 0.46 0.00 0.00 0.35 0.90 1,924 557 662 9,617 0 0 1,583 6,946
169 Sweden SWE 1.55 6.21 0.20 1.40 1.33 4.38 1.16 0.70 1,528 1,252 37,670 16,952 135,609 8,170 2,579 48,433
171 Thailand THA 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.81 0.00 3.37 0.11 0.55 1,050,249 0 0 273,979 0 98,462 242,366 572,864
173 Trinidad & Tobago TTO 0.06 0.00 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.30 0.00 7,947 0 63,566 0 0 0 1,898 0
174 Tunisia TUN 1.51 0.00 0.13 0.39 0.00 0.00 0.09 0.00 2,814 0 101,725 110,972 0 0 61,035 0
175 Turkey TUR 1.62 0.00 1.81 0.81 0.00 0.00 0.84 0.55 10,007 0 27,970 201,865 0 0 24,309 422,079
177 Taiwan TWN 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.74 0.00 0.79 0.37 0.00 639,736 0 0 91,392 0 127,948 22,849 0
178 Ukraine UKR 1.71 1.51 1.57 1.62 0.80 0.00 1.22 0.80 6,365 23,721 21,745 68,068 1,043,698 0 11,387 195,694

Methodology

The Professional Athlete Index analyses eight globally popular team and individual sports. For each sport, a list of top tier male competitors from the latest completed season or ranking was gathered.

For team sports, player data was taken from every team playing in the top domestic league of the world’s 35 highest ranked nations. For individual sports, the players that feature in each sport’s international association ranking were included.

The athletes were assigned to countries based on their nationality. In cases of multiple nationalities, the athletes were assigned to their country of birth.

To calculate the odds of being a top tier athlete, we compared the number of top tier athletes from each country with that country’s number of births over a 12-year period – representing a typical length of a sporting career at the top level. The odds represent the chances of someone born during that period making it to the elite level of each sport.

  • Percentage of top tier athletes

    This percentage was calculated using the following equation:
    Total number of top tier athletes from each country / Total number of top tier athletes in each sport

  • Odds of being a top tier athlete (1:X)

    The odds were calculated for each country in the study using the following equation:

    1 / (number of top tier athletes from each country / total number of people born in each country over 12-year period) / (number of people born over 12-year period in each country that are not currently top tier athletes / total number of people born in each country over 12-year period)

     

    Source: Male births, years 1991 to 2003, UN Demographic Yearbook.

Sport-Specific Methodology Notes