Pro football is the most popular sport in America for at least the 30th straight year. That's according to a survey taken this month by the Harris Poll, which has been asking adult fans, ages 18 and over, about their favorite sport since 1985. In 2014, 35 percent of fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent), college football (11 percent), auto racing (7 percent), the NBA (6 percent), the NHL (5 percent) and college basketball (3 percent). In 1985, the first year the poll was taken, the NFL bested MLB by just one percentage point (24 to 23 percent), but since then interest in baseball has fallen while the NFL has experienced a huge rise in popularity. Nine percent fewer fans call baseball their favorite sport over the 30-year span, the biggest drop of any sport. The polling numbers suggest that the sport hasn't been able to recover from a popularity standpoint from 1994, when a strike forced the cancellation of the World Series. One other significant drop was in professional golf. Throughout Tiger Woods' pro career, which began in 1996, no less four percent of the U.S. adult population called golf their favorite sport. But since 2010, the first year after Woods' extramarital affair scandal, only two percent of Americans have called it their favorite sport. ESPN.com
01/17/14 For 20 years ESPN has been doing a poll of fans favorite sport. In 2013 football was king at 34.7% of those surveyed who said it was their favorite sport to watch.
Racing came in 6th at just 3.7% for 2013, i.e. dead last…..indicating our sport has lost touch with the younger generation. While the 20 year average below shows racing the 4th most popular, in 2013 it fell to 6th, not a good sign. In this AR1.com April Fools spoof, we laid out the solution for the racing industry, but it has fallen on deaf ears. Meanwhile racing's popularity has dropped to an all-time low. Will the last one out please turn off the lights.
Over 20 years the averages are as follows: