ESPN’s NFL popularity poll doesn’t really tell us much

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Once again, a sampling of a small slice of America is being interpreted broadly and expansively to reflect the attitudes of the millions of folks who inhabit this great nation of ours.

This time, ESPN has declared that America’s team still is America’s team, with 8.8 percent of the country making the Dallas Cowboys their favorite pro football franchise.

As usual, however, the devil has built a duplex in the details.  For starters, there’s no mention of the margin for error arising from assuming that the views of 1,500 can be extrapolated to more than 313 million.  With the top five teams separated by only two percentage points, that’s a fairly critical wrinkle.

Perhaps even more importantly, the truth is that the Cowboys came in second.  Behind “pass.”

That’s right.  A full 10.3 percent of the 1,500 people polled didn’t indicate a favorite team.

So all we really know is that 132 people in America are Cowboys fans.  And that 150 people in America don’t have a favorite NFL team.

Of course, that information wouldn’t create the kind of headline that would drive traffic to

42 responses to “ESPN’s NFL popularity poll doesn’t really tell us much

  1. Id say my not watching ESPN next year would do something, but ESPN may not even notice, if im not part of the 1500 people from the same small location they use for their inevitable headline ‘ESPN most popular network in history of mankind.’

  2. It is not very hard to be a “fan” of the cowboys. A lot of them know very little and just claim a Super Bowl run every year and then are almost all band wagoning other teams by the end of the season. Let’s just say they have “backup teams”. I don’t know how the cowboys have fans out side of Texas cause being here is miserable. I wish I could identify with my home area team. But everything from the ownership down is repulsive when it is in your face.

  3. we’re L-O-N-G past the time that we should collectively stop considering ESPN anything more than what the acronym stand for…Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. they are NOT a “News” network, therefore anything that they put forth should be considered simply “for entertainment purposes only”.

    for sports related surveys and investigative reporting, ESPN is NOT my resource of choice!

  4. It was down exactly like a political poll. With your logic the Redskins would have a negative number of fans.

    Sorry Mike the Cowboys came out on top.

  5. I’m dubious about these polls myself. The Packers are more popular than the Steelers according to this poll. However in Super Bowl XLV it seemed like a Steelers home game.

  6. Outside of the Cowboys, the next six teams have all been to the Super Bowl in the last four years. We may root for the underdog but lots of the country loves the frontrunners.

  7. ESPN should do a popularity poll of it’s NFL analysists so that they can know what everyone else in America already knows- Chris Berman makes watching football painful.

  8. Trying to poll this is always a mistake since teams like the Pats and Steelers are full of massive band wagon fans. Seriously ask any steeler or Pats fan and I’ll a bunch of them haven’t even been to the team’s home state. I bet 25 years ago the 9ers were the most popular team.

  9. ESPN is stupid!!!!!

    #1 If you keep Skip Bayless on the payroll and don’t realize that he’s a waste of time and can be replaced you are an ass clown!!!!!

    #2 “America’s Team” (a name that hasn’t been worthy for Big D since 1995!!!) only consists of 9.78% of people saying that they have a “Favorite Team”!!!

    #3 Polling people via telephone is useful, but ESPN will never have the correct answer on anything because they do work very irresponsibly and without any intellect or insight!!!!

    #4 If you wanted the correct answer just go ask Darren Rovell!!! At least listening to him makes you smarter!!! ESPN let him walk, not let him be himself and became dumber!!! How do I know??? The idiot known as Bayless is on my screen!!!!
    Plus, Rovell would at least have a legitimate argument pointing out that merchandise and ticket sales dictate likeability!!!

    I would also include team web page visits, Google Searches, and the number of social network followers!!!

  10. I honestly just think people have a hard time accepting the fact a lot of people do like Cowboys.

  11. That 10% irks me. Probably the dreaded “casual fan” who worships at the altar of fantasy football. I’m old school…I hate that there are those types…I love the game itself and LOATHE casual fantasy football “fans”. That’s the demographic that some of these poofy changes (“fan experience” stuff) are being tailored to and that they are trying to maximize. I “get” it from a business standpoint, I just hate it.

  12. There will never be an “Americas Team” in that sport. the problem is the fanbase. everyone has their own favorite and they whine and cry and call the other teams cheaters when their team loses. thats the nfl/espn culture now. they wanted it, they got it.

  13. trefkennedy says:
    May 27, 2012 12:47 PM
    I was born in november 1988, been a Team Cowboys fan since then, and will never switch sides

    —————————————————Sorry for your lack of good judgement.

  14. 1988 lol! Try being a bengals fan since 1976. A hard road that i will always follow. True fans stick by their teams. Easy to like the Steelers, Cowboys and Pats.

  15. Thumbs up if you think PFT should post the same poll and show ESPN where the real football fans hang out.

    Guaranteed to get more than 1500 votes

  16. I don’t care who you choose to follow. All I ask is you know a little about the team you choose to be a “fan” of. For example, there’s this guy I work with that claims he likes the cowboys and Yankees. Yet every question I ask him about “his teams” he has no clue….what number did roger staubach wear? What position did Mickey mantle play? Can you name the years the cowboys won the super bowl? This guy didn’t know any of them! Like who you want but do a little research on the team before you call yourself a fan.

  17. Dallas is the only perpetual 8-8 team that gets 6 prime time games per year.

    I have no doubt that the team has many die-hard fans. But Dallas is the most visible team in the league, which helps to explain their large fan base.

    Seriously, I live and hour away from Pittsburgh and the I was forced to listen to at least 3 of their games on the radio last year.

    I got to see every Dallas game, though.

  18. First thing first..I’m a Cowboys fan and I never jump to another team bandwagon.. I bleed blue and silver

    Now, the the headline says the most “Popular”, not most “Liked”..while a lot of you say yall hate the Cowboys, it’s that same hatred toward them thats gonna make you look at the TV when they play as you hope/pray they lose. Then after you then watch them play (after we win of course), you can’t wait to get on these blog sites to bash them..oh tony romo sucks (absurd), our defense sucks (see us in 2012 season), our stadium is trash (u really ned to go see a shrink if u think this), Jerry Jones is a trash GM (ok, I agree with u here)..when there is this much traffic in one organization, theses news sites can’t wait to report on our team..not just ESPN, but NFL Network, and urs truly PFT also..another thing that u haters don’t realize is whenever/wherever the Cowboys play, theres always a big crowd cheering for them (i mean California people love the Cowboys more than they do their own teams, I was able to go to the 49ers/Cowboys game last year and I thought I was in Cowboys Stadium)

    And last but not least, the Cowboys is North America’s most valued sports franchise (this entitlement fluctuates between them and the Yankees)..this means my friends (haters) mean people are buying and watching the Cowboys product..if u don’t like the Cowboys don’t talk about them and maybe they will go away (NOT!!)

  19. Steelers fans travel the best. That doesn’t make them the national team. Not much separating the top five. But I do think the Patriots appeal has a lot to do with Brady.

  20. The failure to mention the margin of error wasn’t the biggest flaw in the polling. The biggest flaw is that anyone even believes a poll with 33 options from which to choose. Someone mentioned political polls. How many political polsters take a poll of 33 candidates? It would useless, just as this poll is useless.

    Didn’t someone (maybe ESPN) do a poll of America’s most popular football player and determine it was Tim Tebow? This stuff just drives me mad.

    *I’m not saying that the Cowboys don’t have a huge fan base. Just don’t call them, or any other team, America’s team. That would be like calling the Yankees and Lakers America’s team. America’s team will actually be in London this Summer, in the Olympics. Outside of that, the only America’s team that should be mentioned are the ones that wear camo. Happy Memorial Day.

  21. From the article:

    Pollsters conduct 1,500 monthly telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of Americans age 12 and older. They have reached 390,000 Americans since 1994 via land lines and cell phones, in English and Spanish.

    What does “nationally representative” mean? Does that mean you make more calls based on population or geography?

    It never fails that teams that had success in the early age of Television are high on the list because not only are the old farts partial, often times, the kids they raised like the same team as Dad does. You have to think that is partially the reason for the Cowboys, Packers, Steelers, and Giants being there. In addition, 7 of the top ten teams are NFC teams, further bearing out the fact that this is a bit hereditary. You could make it 8 out of 10 because the Steelers are really an old NFC team but they were so bad, they got kicked out and had to join the AFC.

    Kudos to The Patriots for their high ranking as this is not due to their loooong history or early Super Bowl era success, but their success in the salary cap era.

    If you included factors to balance out the number of years of existence (the hereditary thing) and the early Super Bowl Era success, I think the Patriots just might actually be #1.

    Just my ever so humble opinion. Regardless, as a once floundering AFC franchise, they have been amazing since Kraft bought the team in the 93-94 off season, just as the salary cap era got under way.

  22. Oh, and by the way, I’d love to know what percentage of “Spanish” speaking people polled responded “Los Cowboys.” That would most certainly account for a few extra points for them.

    I’m just sayin’…..It is what it is. Don’t blame me.

  23. I love that whiny people call every Pats fan bandwagon. How many of your whiners with terrible ownership called me bandwagon when we were so bad we earned the right to draft Drew Bledsoe? So this is the new rule: You can be the fan of a team….as long as they aren’t any good.

  24. trefkennedy says: May 27, 2012 12:47 PM

    I was born in november 1988, been a Team Cowboys fan since then, and will never switch sides
    Wow, that’s impressive.

    Considering you couldn’t have REALLY got into the sport until you were at least 18, that makes you a 6 year fan.


  25. joetoronto wrote:
    Wow, that’s impressive.

    Considering you couldn’t have REALLY got into the sport until you were at least 18, that makes you a 6 year fan.

    Right, because no one that plays prior to 18 “REALLY” understands/gets into football. Which means that no college kids REALLY get into the sport.

    The only thing that is amazing is your level of ignorance.

  26. inthezone4 says: May 27, 2012 2:36 PM

    1988 lol! Try being a bengals fan since 1976. A hard road that i will always follow. True fans stick by their teams. Easy to like the Steelers, Cowboys and Pats.

    I have been a Cowboys fan since 1970. I endured their 1989 season of 1-15, I have endured their ineptitude since 1995, I have endured Jerry Jones, etc. You call that easy to like???

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