Monday, January 30, 2012

Football is America's favorite sport as lead over baseball continues to grow

NEW YORK, Jan. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- For two months every year, sports fans have to make a decision - watch football or baseball on Sundays? Based on the numbers of Americans who say it's their favorite sport, one would have to assume that football wins hands down. Over one-third of adults who follow at least one sport (36%) say professional football is their favorite sport while just 13% say baseball is their favorite. The gap between the two sports has widened in the past year - last year 31% said pro football was their favorite while 17% said baseball was their favorite sport.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Looking at how other sports fared, just over one in ten sports fans (13%) say college football is their favorite sport while 8% say it is auto racing, 5% each say men's professional basketball, men's college basketball and hockey. All other sports are favorites for 2% or less of sports fans.

There are some fluctuations in favorites over time. Since this question was first asked in 1985, professional football has gone up 12 points from 24% of sports fans saying it was their favorite sport then to 36% saying so now. Baseball, on the other hand, has gone down 10 points from 23% in 1985 to 13% today. College football, auto racing and hockey have all gone up 3 points while men's tennis has gone down 3 points.

Who likes football and baseball... and who really doesn't

When it comes to the top sports, different groups are more likely to cite them as favorites. African Americans (48%), those aged 30-39 years (46%), and those with some college (42%) are more likely to say professional football is their favorite sport while those with a post-graduate education (28%), Born-again Christians (30%), and those aged 65 and older (30%) are less likely to do so. When it comes to baseball, those aged 50 - 64 (21%), Hispanics (19%), and Easterners (17%) are more likely to cite it as their favorite sport. African Americans (6%), those aged 30-39 (6%) and households with children (9%) are least likely to say baseball is their favorite. Looking at college football, those with a post-graduate degree (22%), college graduates (19%) and Midwesterners (18%) are more likely to say it's their favorite sport while Easterners (4%), those with a household income of under $35,000 (8%) and those aged 50-64 (8%) are least likely to say so.

So What?

As we got closer to the beginning of the football season there was a sense of gloom that it might not start. However, the talks succeeded and the season began on time. This scare did not seem to drive fans away from the sport, but rather, moved more people to it as the gap between football and baseball is now the largest it's ever been at 23 points. The question is why? Is it that football is doing everything right and baseball is doing something wrong? Or, is the draw of one sport just that much larger than the other. Next year, it is possible that college football could overtake baseball and what would that say about America's pastime? 


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 5 to 12, 2011 among 2,237 adults (aged 18 and over), 1,466 of whom say they follow at least one sport. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit .

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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