Of those who follow one or more sport, more than one-third (35%) say professional football is their favorite, an increase of four percentage points from last year. Baseball comes next, favored by 16% of sports fans, trailed by college football, with a 12% number-one rating. Both of these percentages remain unchanged from last year. However, football, which led baseball by 15 percentage points from 2006-2008, widened its lead to 19 percentage points in 2009.
Other sports which charted with fans include auto racing (including NASCAR), favored by 9%, men’s pro basketball, favored by 5%, hockey and men’s pro golf, both favored by 4%, and men’s college basketball, favored by 3%.
Different Sports for Different Folks
Each sport has groups of people who are more of a fan and also less of a fan. For professional football, African Americans are more likely to say it is their favorite (45%) as are those aged 40-49 (42%) and those aged 25-29 (38%). On the reverse side, Hispanics (26%), those aged 18-24 (27%) and Westerners (28%) are less likely to say professional football is their favorite sport.
Baseball has its own sets of fans. Hispanics (24%), Easterners (21%) and College graduates (19%) are all more likely to say baseball is their favorite sport while African Americans (7%), those with a post-graduate degree (11%) and Southerners (12%) are less likely to say so.
Younger adults aged 18-24 who might be in college or have just graduated are the most likely to say college football is their favorite sport (26%), followed by Republicans (20%) and Southerners (19%). Easterners are least likely to say college football is their favorite (3%), followed by African Americans (6%) and those aged 40-49 (7%).
When it comes to auto racing, which does include NASCAR, those with a household income of between $35,000 and $49,999 a year (15%), those with a high school education or less (14%) and older Americans, aged 65 and older (13%) are more likely to say this is their favorite sport. African Americans (less than 0.5%), those with a post-graduate education (2%) and those aged 25-29, on the other hand, are all least likely to say auto racing is their favorite.
Football Showed Signs of Dominance in September ’09
Even though baseball was moving into pennant race season, comScore tracking of online sports site traffic in September 2009 showed that fans’ hearts clearly lay with football. The overall sports category reached an all-time high, attracting more than 98 million visitors, up 14% from August 2009. However, the football-specific NFL Internet Group had the third-most site visitors of any sports site provider for the month, increasing its traffic 19% with 19 million visitors. The only sports sites with more traffic during the month were general sports site providers Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.
About the Survey: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States from December 7-14, 2009 among 2,276 adults aged 18 and over. 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.