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As American as Mom, Apple Pie and Football?

Football continues to trump baseball as America's Favorite Sport

NEW YORK, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In September and October, it's an argument that happens year after year in sports bars nationwide. But, it might be that it's one that comes to an easy conclusion, as football continues to dominate over baseball as America's Favorite Sport. Over one-third (35%) of adults who follow at least one sport say professional football is their favorite sport, while just 14% say baseball is their favorite.

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The gap between the two sports has grown from last year, when 34% said pro football was their favorite while 16% said baseball was their favorite sport. This is the second largest gap between the two sports in the almost 30 years this survey has been conducted. The highest gap was in 2011, when it was 23 points as 36% said professional football was their favorite sport and 13% said baseball was their favorite. 

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,311 adults surveyed online between December 11 and 17, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including data tables and a complete list of sports tested, available here)

Looking at how other sports fared, just over one in ten sports fans (11%) say college football is their favorite sport, while 7% say it is auto racing, 6% say men's professional basketball, 5% say hockey and 3% say it is men's college basketball. 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 11 points, from 24% of sports fans saying it was their favorite sport then to 35% saying so now. Baseball, on the other hand, has gone down 9 points, from 23% in 1985 to 14% today.  Hockey has gone up 3 points while men's tennis, men's college basketball and horse racing have all gone down 3 points.

Some people favor a sport more than others
When it comes to the top sports, different groups are more likely to cite them as favorites. Those who live in rural areas (44%), people with a child under 18 (42%), and Easterners (39%) are more likely to say professional football is their favorite sport, while those with a post graduate degree (24%), Echo Boomers (31%), and Liberals (31%) are less likely to do so. When it comes to baseball, Hispanics (19%), those with a household income of $100,000 or more (18%), and suburbanites (18%) are more likely to cite it as their favorite sport; African Americans (7%), those who live in rural areas (8%) and Echo Boomers (10%) are least likely to say baseball is their favorite.

Looking at college football, those in the South (17%), those with a post graduate degree (17%) and college graduates (16%) are more likely to say this is their favorite, while Easterners (4%), Hispanics (7%) and Democrats (8%) are least likely to say college football is their favorite sport. When it comes to auto racing, it is more likely to be the favorite for those living in rural areas (12%), those in households with an income under $35,000 (12%), and those with a high school or less education (11%); auto racing is less likely to be the favorite for African Americans (1%), Hispanics (2%) and both post graduates and college graduates (3% each).

To view the full findings, or to see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 11 to 17, 2013 among 2,311 adults (aged 18 and over), 1,550 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.

Q955, 960

The Harris Poll® #5, January 16, 2014
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

Press Contact:
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Harris Interactive
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SOURCE Harris Interactive

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