10 Top Rich People Sports

10 Top Rich People Sports

Certain sports cost a lot more money to get into than others. Even picking up a full bag of second-hand golf clubs from your local Play It Again Sports store will cost more than grabbing a used basketball, for example.

Then you have to add the cost of clothing, greens fees, and more. That being said, there are some clever ways to get into the 10 top rich people’s sports without spending an arm and a leg just to get started.

This guide will detail these sports and the tips for getting into them.

You may be looking for a list of sports to avoid because you want to save money playing them. Or a list of sports to get into because you want to meet rich people, this list has something for you!

rich people sports vs old money sports

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10 Top Rich People Sports

  1. Competitive Sailing
  2. Polo
  3. Golf
  4. Automobile Racing
  5. Tennis
  6. Water Skiing
  7. Downhill Snow Skiing
  8. Snowboarding
  9. Horse Racing
  10. Jai Alai

Tips For Getting Into Rich People Sports

rich people sports lists

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Some of these sports feature larger barriers to entry than others. They may be old money sports or rich people sports.

Old money sports are typically associated with wealthy individuals and often include traditional activities like polo, horseback riding, tennis, golf, yachting, and sailing.

On the other hand, rich people sports encompass a wide range of exclusive and expensive activities that often require elaborate facilities or costly equipment. Think motor racing, skydiving, skiing, or even indulging in luxurious helicopter trips. These activities tend to be more contemporary and less bound by tradition compared to old money sports.

We hope you can use some simple tips to experience these old money sports or rich people’s sports without breaking the bank!

Shop For Second-Hand Gear

We don’t necessarily recommend buying an old, run-down sailboat if you want to get into competitive sailing. But, thrift stores and yard sales can be great places to get a tennis racket or skiing gear if you want to try these sports out.

Many winter towns even have massive ski sales in the fall. They are a great place to grab the gear still in decent condition for a discounted price.

This tip will work for sports like tennis, golf, downhill snow, skiing, and snowboarding. But it still won’t help with all the costs of these sports.

Find a Friend

For a sport like sailing, horse racing, or automobile racing, who you know goes a long way.

If you are trying to get into these sports, asking a friend for assistance can be really helpful. For example, they could take you out on their boat or introduce you to someone in the horse racing world.

You can search for social media groups dedicated to that sport in your region if you don’t know anyone in the sport you want to get into.

That is a great way to attend gatherings and meet others interested in the sport you want to get into.

The 10 Top Rich People Sports

1. Competitive Sailing

Competitive Sailing - popular old money sport

Photo by Ludomil Sawicki via Unsplash

There is hopping on your sailboat for a recreational afternoon on the water and then there is the world of competitive sailing. To be quite honest, the cost of a sailboat alone is enough to consider both rich people’s sport.

The world of competitive sailing, however, is of particular interest to us in this guide.

A competitive race is often known as a regatta. This sport was known as yachting up until 1996.

The sport of yachting dates back to 1851. It was first seen in the Olympics in the year 1900 in Paris.

However, humans have been sailing for thousands of years. Arguments could be made that competitive sailing events were staged even longer before an International committee was formed to regulate the sport worldwide.

Today, there are three main types of races in the world of competitive sailing: coastal inshore races, offshore races, and short course races. Within those three categories, there are also fleet races, team races, and match races.

The International Sailing Federation is the main organizing and regulating body behind the sport’s largest events. Sailors mainly self-regulate races. This makes Sailing unique.

2. Polo – Widely Known and Esteemed Old Money Sport

Polo - oldest old money sport

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Polo is also affectionately known as “The Gentleman’s Sport” because it is widely associated with British royalty. The sport, however, may very well be one of the oldest team sports out there. Some forms were played in Persia over 2,000 years ago.

Historians believe that warriors and armed forces originally used the sport as a training exercise for battle. This would explain it spreading to cultures that featured large cavalry divisions in their armies.

Polo was mainly played in Asia and India. It was not until sometime in the middle of 19th century that Westerners discovered it.

It spread quickly throughout Europe from there. The first polo club in the United States was established in New York in 1876.

The objective of polo is to strike the ball into the goal using a wooden mallet at the end of a long stick.

Polo is a team sport, usually with a minimum of four players per team. There are various forms of polo, such as camel polo, bike polo, and elephant polo.

Even though players are on their horses, it is considered a contact sport. This is why players wear protective equipment on their heads, hands, and knees.

It may, however, be the horses that can exert the most energy. They often run more than two miles per match. After playing, they are given a well-deserved break.

3. Golf – Well-Known Rich People Sport

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Golf is probably one of the most well-known rich people sports. It is one of the first people think of when asked about this topic.

There are so many different types of games that golfers play these days. It would be tough to list them all, but stroke play, match play, and best ball scramble are just a few popular options.

Golf is a rich people’s sport played with a collection of clubs utilized to hit the ball at various distances. The holes are also of different lengths ranging from par three, par four, and par five variations.

The origins of golf are believed to go back to the 15th century in Scotland. The first 18-hole round was played at the St. Andrews golf course in 1764.

The sport’s oldest tournament in existence is called The Open Championship. It was first placed in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1860.

Perhaps the craziest part about golf is that it involves nothing close to a standardized playing surface. Part of the challenge is that the terrain can vary dramatically from course to course, and the hole’s location on the green also changes often.

The player with the lowest number of strokes used per round is declared the winner in golf. This person also usually wins whatever wager has been placed on the round.

The cost of clubs, balls, tees, gloves, green fees (aka access to the course), cart rentals, and accumulated frustration all make golf one of the top rich people’s sports.

4. Automobile Racing

Automobile racing - popular rich people sport.

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While Formula One racing definitely attracts a different crowd than Nascar, a race car is far from inexpensive.

Some of the world’s richest people in sports are owners of racing teams that rake in millions (if not billions) of dollars in annual revenue.

If you want to catch a really cool movie about some of the early days of car racing, definitely check out Ford v Ferrari. Auto racing these days, however, has many different forms and is followed by adrenaline-seeking aficionados

There is open-wheel racing, where Formula One and IndyCar fall in. And then there is sports car racing, where races last 2.5 to 24 hours, and popular races are 24 hours for Le Mans and 24 Hours at Daytona.

There is also touring car racing, production car racing, stock car racing (i.e., Nascar), rally car racing, drag racing, and, in the event of recent world events, simulation racing, which is conducted via digital platforms.

The first automobiles were designed for sport rather than transportation. It is reported that the first car race was held in England in August 1867. Two carriages powered by solid-fueled steam engines competed against each other in this race.

5. Tennis

Tennis one of the well-known rich people sports

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Aside from golf, tennis makes a great argument for being the most widespread and well-known sport for rich people. It can technically be played as a single sport or with a partner, but it is recognized as an individual sport in many senses.

The tennis court involves a central net that players must hit the ball over by using a tennis racket. If you want to keep the rally going, the ball can only bounce once on your side of the net before you hit it again.

The history of the sport of tennis dates back to the 16th century in France. In early iterations, players were encouraged to shout the word ”˜tenez’ as the match began, which roughly translates to ”˜Here You Are!’ in English.

The sport of tennis was adapted as lawn tennis in England. This may explain why the sport is now played on multiple surfaces today. Competitive tennis matches occur on grass, clay, and hard surfaces that are usually made with concrete, asphalt, wood, or Astroturf.

Competitive tennis includes well-known matches such as Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, The Australian Open, and The French Open. While it is still considered a rich people sport, tennis is arguably one of the most accessible sports on this list. All you only need is a ball, a racket, a partner, and a court. Almost every town or city in the U.S. has a court somewhere these days!

6. Water Skiing

Water skiing - another rich people sport

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Water skiing is a sport that has traditionally required the use of a powerboat to pull the skier at high speeds over the surface of the water.

Nowadays, cable installations can pull the skier around a course if a boat is not readily available.

Most water skiers are pulled at a minimum speed of 15 miles per hour and many prefer to be pulled much faster. At faster speeds, the wake behind the boat becomes flatter, making it easier for the skier to make quick, hard turns.

The invention of water skiing is credited to a man named Ralph Samuelson and dates back to the 1920s. Ralph used a pair of boards as his “skis” and held onto a clothesline to be pulled behind his boat.

Today, there are two main types of water skiing in which the skier either uses one or two skis. The single ski is known as a slalom ski and it is the tool of choice for competitive water skiers while two skis are usually best for beginners.

On the skis, rubber boot bindings hold the skier’s feet in place and provide control of the ski. These bindings are usually pretty tight, but they are designed to naturally release the skier’s feet during a fall to reduce the risk of injury.

The most restrictive part about water skiing is the cost of owning and maintaining one of the ski boats. However, the skis themselves are a great thing to find at a garage sale if you already know someone with a boat.

7. Downhill Snow Skiing

Snow Skiing - rich people sports

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Especially with recent increases in ticket prices required to access the downhill ski resorts, downhill skiing is one of the top rich people’s sports. When you consider downhill skiing versus cross country skiing, the costs are quite different.

There are many reasons why skiing is so expensive. Still, this sport happens in places that would traditionally be very inaccessible without a four-wheel-drive vehicle and snow tires or chains. If you can get to the mountain, a daily lift ticket can be more than $100.

That being said, alpine skiing is a fun sport that has been a winter pastime for over a century. While it has been an event in the Winter Olympic Games since 1936, people have been strapping their feet to boards and sliding down snowy slopes for much longer than that.

Today, skiers regularly top speeds of 130 kilometers per hour (~81 mph) in international competitions, and ski jumpers have recorded record distances of more than 830 feet. Snow skiing has many competitive variations, including downhill, ski jumping, slalom, and moguls.

Europe, Japan, and the United States are currently the countries in which downhill snow skiing is most popular and where most skiing venues exist. Skiers have also gotten into new disciplines like halfpipe, big air, and more in recent decades.

8. Snowboarding

Snowboarding - rich people sports.

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At one point in time, snowboarding was considered a cheaper and more accessible alternative to downhill snow skiing. It attracted a much different crowd, and the rift between skiers and snowboarders was born.

Today, the prices of lift tickets alone make both downhill snow skiing and snowboarding rich people sports. That is true even if the people you see on snowboards do their best to dress in a way that makes you believe otherwise.

Snowboarding goes back to the late 60s-early 70s in the U.S., but it did not become a Winter Olympic sport until 1998. The sport’s development is usually credited to skateboarders and surfers who wanted to figure out how to slide down a snowy ski run sideways.

Nowadays, there are several different Olympic snowboarding events that riders can qualify for, including halfpipe, giant slalom, snowboard cross, slopestyle, and big air. Most of them feature men’s and women’s categories, with the snowboard cross also featuring a mixed-team event.

More recently, the development of split snowboards has also made backcountry snowboarding much more popular and accessible. Still, these boards are not cheap and firmly land snowboarding in the category of rich people sports.

9. Horse Racing

Horse racing - well known old money sport

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There are many different sports that fall under the equestrian category, such as dressage, showjumping, and vaulting. Most of them would be considered rich people sports due to the costs of owning and caring for a horse.

Horse racing, however, has arguably gained the most widespread popularity due to its association with sports betting. It is considered an equestrian performance sport and races often take place on dirt, turf, or some synthetic surface.

Many historians date some of the first horse races back to some of the first Greek Olympic events between 700 and 40 B.C. Chariot racing and mounted racing on bareback horses were the most popular forms of horse racing then.

Horse racing continued to be popular throughout the early centuries A.D. in Europe and other parts of the world. Many believe that modern horse racing in North American began in the 1600s.

Today, the popular Belmont Stakes (est. 1867), Preakness Stakes (est. 1873), and Kentucky Derby (est. 1875) races are known as the U.S. Triple Crown and they are some of the most popular and widely-bet-upon events in all horse racing.

10. Jai Alai

Jai Alai

Photo by Ryan Derry via Flickr

This is the most obscure sport on our list, but it attracts rich people because it lends itself well to gambling. The sport originated in Spain but reached North America in the early 1900s.

The sport’s unique player rotation and scoring system make it ideal for a number of prop and side bets throughout the matches. Today, it is still most popular in European countries and attracts many wealthy elites that turn up their noses at popular American sports.

Jai Alai is played in a space that resembles a racquetball court. It involves bouncing a small ball off the wall at high speeds and the players do this by using a tool called a Cesta, which resembles a small wicker basket.

Some bill Jai Alai as the world’s fastest sport, but it has long been forgotten in the United States. The record speed for a ball in this sport has been tallied at 302 kilometers per hour (187.65 mph).

The game’s origins can be traced to early ball games played in Greece and other areas around the Mediterranean. Today, it is primarily played in Florida (in the United States) and has entirely been banned from the Philippines due to problems with game-fixing.

If you are still confused about what this sport looks like, perhaps the video below will put it into a new context!

Top Rich People Sports – Final Thoughts

Top Rich People Sports - Thoughts

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Rich people’s sports are cost-prohibitive by nature, but they don’t always have to be. Nowadays, there are more and more non-profits out there that are doing their best to make these sports more accessible to everyone.

The second-hand market for gear and equipment is also growing as some people find out they don’t like to pay $60 per round of golf or have the time to take proper care of their horse between polo games.

We hope you have appreciated this quick collection of the top rich people’s sports and the tips you can get into them without overspending initially. As always, we hope you enjoy whatever sport you are most passionate about!

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10 Top Rich People Sports

Picture of Peter Salisbury

Peter Salisbury

Pete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.