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harris-sports-fan-trend-jan11.gifThree in 10 Americans who follow at least one sport (31%) say professional football is their favorite sport, while 17% say baseball, according to results of a new Harris Poll. This is a narrowing of the gap from last year when over one-third (35%) of sports fans said professional football was their favorite sport and 16% said it was baseball.

There are some fluctuations in favorites during the years. Since this question was first asked in 1985, professional football has gone up seven points from 24% of sports fans saying it was their favorite sport then to 31% saying so now. Baseball, on the other hand, has gone down 6 points from 23% in 1985 to 17% today.

College Football Snares Third Place

Looking at how other sports fared, just more than one in 10 sports fans (12%) say college football is their favorite sport while 7% say it is auto racing, 6% say men’s professional basketball, 5% say hockey, and 4% each say men’s soccer and men’s college basketball. Most other sports are favorites for 2% or less of sports fans. Two sports however, women’s professional basketball and women’s college basketball, are not favorites for any sports fan.

African-Americans, Baby Boomers, Easterners Favor Football

harris-favorite-sport-jan-20111.jpgWhen it comes to the top sports, different groups are more likely to cite them as favorites. African Americans (45%), Baby Boomers (aged 46-64) (37%), and Easterners (34%) are more likely to say professional football is their favorite sport. Meanwhile, Echo Boomers (aged 18-33) (23%), Hispanics (26%), and Midwesterners (26%) are less likely to do so.

When it comes to baseball, Matures (those 65 and older) (21%), Hispanics (20%), and those with a high school or less education (20%) are more likely to cite it as their favorite sport. African Americans (6%), those with some college education (12%) and Echo Boomers (13%) are least likely to say baseball is their favorite.

Among the third- and fourth-ranked sports, post-grads (18%), Republicans and Southerners (17%) are most likely to favor college football. Auto racing does best among those earning an annual salary of $35,000 – $49,999 (13%), holding a high school diploma or less and Republicans (9% each).

NFL Team Values Fall 2%

NFL team values fell 2% in the 2009 season to an average of $1.02 billion, according to analysis from Forbes Magazine. This marks the first decline in average NFL team value since Forbes began tracking the league’s finances in 1998, with 21 of the league’s 32 teams seeing their worths drop and another seven maintaining flat value.

Forbes analysis indicates team values slipped because the bad economy has reduced demand, and there is less non-broadcasting revenue for many teams.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 6 to 13, 2010 among 2,331 adults (aged 18 and over), 1,647 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.

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