Football Still America's Favorite, and Then Some

According to the results of a recent Harris Poll, 35% of adults who follow at least one sport say professional football is their favorite, while just 14% say baseball is. In September and October, it's an argument that happens year after year in sports bars nationwide, says the report, but football continues to dominate over baseball as America's Favorite Sport.

The gap between the two sports has grown from last year, when 34% said pro football was their favorite while 16% said baseball was their favorite sport. This is the second largest gap between the two sports in the almost 30 years this survey has been conducted. The highest gap was in 2011, when it was 23 points as 36% said professional football was their favorite sport and 13% said baseball.

Looking at how other sports fared, just 11% of sports fans say college football is their favorite sport, while 7% say it is auto racing, 6% say men's professional basketball, 5% say hockey and 3% say it is men's college basketball. All other sports are favorites for 2% or less of sports fans.

Since this question was first asked in 1985, professional football has gone up 11 points, from 24% of sports fans saying it was their favorite sport then, to 35% saying so now. Baseball, on the other hand, has gone down 9 points, from 23% in 1985 to 14% today. Hockey has gone up 3 points while men's tennis, men's college basketball and horse racing have all gone down 3 points.

When it comes to the top sports, different groups are more likely to cite them as favorites. Of those who say professional football is their favorite sport

  • 44% live in rural areas
  • 42% people with a child under 18
  • 39% are Easterners

Those less likely to prefer football are:

  • Those with a post graduate degree (24%)
  • Echo Boomers (31%)
  • Liberals (31%)

Those who are more likely to say baseball is their favorite sport are:

  • Hispanics (19%)
  • those with a household income of $100,000 or more (18%)
  • and suburbanites (18%);

Least likely to pick baseball as their favorite are:

  • African Americans (7%)
  • Those who live in rural areas (8%)
  • Echo Boomers (10%)

Looking at college football, those more likely to say this is their favorite are:

  • In the South (17%)
  • Those with a post graduate degree (17%)
  • College graduates (16%)

Least likely to say college football is their favorite sport are:

  • Easterners (4%)
  • Hispanics (7%)
  • Democrats (8%)

Auto racing is more likely to be the favorite for:

  • Those living in rural areas (12%)
  • Those in households with an income under $35,000 (12%)
  • Those with a high school or less education (11%);

Auto racing is less likely to be the favorite for:

  • African Americans (1%)
  • Hispanics (2%)
  • Both post graduates and college graduates (3% each)

"If You Had To Choose, Which ONE Of These Sports Is Your Favorite?" (Base: All Adults Who Follow One Or More Sports; % of Respondents)

 

 

1985

1992

2003

2010

2012

2013

Change vs. 1985

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

% Points

Pro football

24

28

29

31

34

35

11

Baseball

23

21

13

17

16

14

-9

College football

10

7

9

12

11

11

1

Auto racing

5

5

9

7

8

7

2

Men's pro basketball

6

8

10  

6

7

6

0

Hockey

2

3

3

5

5

5

3

Men's college basketball

6

8

6

4

3

3

-3

Men's golf

3

4

5

2

2

2

-1

Men's soccer

3

2

3

4

2

2

-1

Swimming

NA

NA

NA

1

2

2

NA

Boxing

NA

NA

NA

1

1

2

NA

Men's tennis

5

4

2

2

2

2

-3

Bowling

3

2

1

2

1

1

-2

Horse racing

4

3

2

1

1

1

-3

Track & field

2

1

3

2

1

1

-1

Women's tennis

NA

NA

2

1

1

1

NA

Women's college basketball

NA

NA

*

-

1

1

NA

Women's soccer

NA

NA

NA

*

*

*

NA

Women's pro basketball

NA

NA

1

-

*

*

NA

Women's golf

NA

NA

1

*

*

*

NA

Not sure

*

4

1

3

2

3

3

Pro football's lead over baseball

1

7

16

14

18

21

20

Source: Harris Poll/Harris Interactive, February 2014

 

For additional information, please visit Harris Interactive here.

 

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