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10 Top Rich People Sports

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10 Top Rich People Sports

There are simply certain sports that 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 is going to cost more than grabbing a used basketball, for example.

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

We will detail these sports and the tips for getting into them in this guide. Whether you are looking for sports to avoid because you want to save money or sports to get into because you want to meet more rich people, we think you will find something on this list!

Photo by Francisco Deane via Unsplash

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

Photo by Josh Chiodo via Unsplash

Some of these sports feature larger barriers to entry than others. That being said, we hope you can use some of these simple tips to experience these rich people’s sports without breaking the bank!

Shop For Second-Hand Gear

While we don’t necessarily recommend buying an old, run-down sailboat if you want to get into competitive sailing, thrift stores and yard sales can be a great place 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 that are a great place for you to grab the gear that is 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, it can be really helpful to ask a friend to take you out on their boat or introduce you to someone in the horse racing world, for example.

If you don’t currently know anyone that is entrenched in the sport that you want to get into, see if there are any social media groups dedicated to that sport in your region. That is a great way to attend gatherings and meet others that are interested in the sport you want to get into.

The 10 Top Rich People Sports

1. Competitive Sailing

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 a rich people’s sport.

The world of competitive sailing, however, is of particular interest to us in this article. To clear up a few important sailing terms, a competitive race is often known as a regatta and this sport was actually known as yachting up until 1996.

The sport of yachting dates back to 1851 and it was first seen in the Olympics in the year 1900 in Paris. However, humans have been sailing for thousands of years and arguments could be made that competitive sailing events were staged 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. Sailing is also unique in that its races are mainly self-regulated by the sailors themselves.

2. Polo

Photo by Paul Chambers via Unsplash

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 and some forms of it were played in Persia over 2,000 years ago.

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

Polo was actually mainly played in Asia and India before it was discovered by Westerners sometime in the middle of the 19th century. It spread quickly throughout Europe from there and 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. There are various different forms of polo (i.e. camel polo, bike polo, elephant polo, etc.), but they are all team sports and are typically played with a minimum of four players per team.

Even though players are on their individual horses, it is considered to be a contact sport, which may be why you see players wearing protective equipment on their heads, hands, and knees.

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

3. Golf

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

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

Golf is a rich people’s sport that is played with a collection of clubs that are utilized to hit the ball various distances. The holes are also 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 and 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 and it was first placed in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1860.

Perhaps the craziest part about the sport of golf is that it does not involve anything close to a standardized playing surface. Part of the challenge is that the terrain can vary dramatically from course to course and the location of the hole on the green also changes often.

In golf, the player with the lowest number of strokes used per round is declared the winner (and 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 add up to make golf one of the top rich people’s sports.

4. Automobile Racing

Photo by Bill Stephan via Unsplash

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, which is where Formula One and IndyCar fall in. There is sports car racing where races last anywhere from 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 history of automobile racing is largely tied to the development of the world’s first automobiles designed to be used for sport instead of purely transportation. Reportedly, the first arranged car race took place in England in August of 1867 and pitted two carriages powered by solid-fired steam engines against one another.

5. Tennis

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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 being 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. The ball can only bounce once on your side of the net before you hit it again if you want to keep the rally going.

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.

Speaking of England, the sport of tennis would later be adapted as lawn tennis in England, which may explain why the sport is now played on multiple different surfaces today. Competitive tennis matches take place 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 because you only need a ball, a racket, a partner, and a court (and almost every town or city in the U.S. has a court somewhere these days!).

6. Water Skiing

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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, there are also cable installations that 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 and makes 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 in order to reduce the risk of injury.

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

7. Downhill Snow Skiing

Photo by Banff Sunshine Village via Unsplash

Especially with recent increases in ticket prices that are required to access the best downhill ski resorts, downhill skiing is definitely 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, but 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 at all, a daily lift ticket can easily be more than $100.

That being said, alpine skiing is a very fun sport that has been a winter pastime for more than 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. There are many competitive variations of snow skiing, including downhill, ski jumping, slalom, moguls, and more.

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

8. Snowboarding

Photo by Lucas Ludwig via Unsplash

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 definitely 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 actually 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 a way 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 both 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 they firmly land snowboarding in the category of rich people sports.

9. Horse Racing

Photo by Mathew Schwartz via Unsplash

There are actually 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 type of 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 at that time.

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

Photo by Ryan Derry via Flickr

This is the most obscure sport on our list, but it is one that attracts rich people because it lends itself well to gambling. The sport originated in Spain but made its way to 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!

Final 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 that they don’t actually 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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Top Rich People Sports

Author: Peter SalisburyPete 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.

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