DETROIT (WWJ) - 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.
A recent Harris Poll found that over one-third of adults who follow at least one sport (36 percent) say professional football is their favorite sport while just 13 percent say baseball is their favorite. The gap between the two sports has widened in the past year – last year 31 percent said pro football was their favorite while 17 percent said baseball was their favorite sport.
Looking at how other sports fared, just over one in ten sports fans (13 percent) say college football is their favorite sport while 8 percent say it is auto racing, 5 percent each say men’s professional basketball, men’s college basketball and hockey. All other sports are favorites for 2 percent 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 percent of sports fans saying it was their favorite sport then to 36 percent saying so now.
Baseball, on the other hand, has gone down 10 points from 23 percent in 1985 to 13 percent today. College football, auto racing and hockey have all gone up 3 points while men’s tennis has gone down 3 points.
When it comes to the top sports, different groups are more likely to cite them as favorites. African Americans (48 percent), those aged 30-39 years (46 percent), and those with some college (42 percent) are more likely to say professional football is their favorite sport while those with a post-graduate education (28 percent), Born-again Christians (30 percent), and those aged 65 and older (30 percent) are less likely to do so.
When it comes to baseball, those aged 50 – 64 (21 percent), Hispanics (19 percent), and Easterners (17 percent) are more likely to cite it as their favorite sport. African Americans (6 percent), those aged 30-39 (6 percent) and households with children (9 percent) are least likely to say baseball is their favorite.
Looking at college football, those with a post-graduate degree (22 percent), college graduates (19 percent) and Midwesterners (18 percent) are more likely to say it’s their favorite sport while Easterners (4 percent), those with a household income of under $35,000 (8 percent) and those aged 50-64 (8 percent) are least likely to say so.
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.