Harris Poll shows NFL continues to expand its popularity


When the Harris Poll first asked American fans to identify their favorite sports, the NFL beat baseball by one point, 24 to 23.

Nearly 30 years later, the final score looks like a 70s-era Super Bowl.

Via Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, the latest Harris Poll has the NFL winning a 35-11 blowout over baseball — despite the incessant hand wringing by some in the media regarding the looming death of football due to a concussion crisis that has done nothing to scare grown men away from the risks of playing pro football, which still pays far better than far more grievous risks of harm that folks willingly assume all the time.

College football comes in third at 11 percent, with auto racing at seven percent.  The NBA is fifth at six percent, the NHL has five percent, and college basketball managed a mere three percent.

The poll asks only for the favorite sport, not every sport a fan follows.  Most fans follow multiple sports.

Still, pro football continues to be the king.  Long live it.

15 responses to “Harris Poll shows NFL continues to expand its popularity

  1. MLB hardly qualifies as a “sport” anymore. Between the cheating at the individual level with PEDs, and the lack of a meaningful salary cap, 80% of baseball’s results are determined off the field. Why bother to watch for the other 20%?

  2. How does college football come in 3rd when it is tied for second place with baseball – both at 11 percent?

  3. The NFL is becoming a joke. I am waiting for the flags to be attached to the player’s belts. The emphasis is on crowd noise. Bad officiating has come about because of all the ludicrous rules. Many of the players, like Sherman, are simply idiots. Having said that I remind myself the NFL is Hollywood entertainment. Next we’ll have an award show for the players, oh, we do, the laughable pro bowl.
    The NFL will die a slow death as it sucks the money out of fans. BTW I had always been a fan, 50’s – 80’s.

  4. Hard for me to believe the poll is accurate with the millions of fans that attend baseball games all summer. A large number of teams draw over 3 million plus fans to the park each summer. Look at the number of ‘vacationers’ who attend spring training with their family. Have you ever tried to get a decent ticket to the college World Series. Baseball may not be for everybody but the fan base is huge. Once the drug issue is ironed out, it will be back to normal. I would have to think it is on the same popularity level as the NFL

  5. @floratiotime – MLB teams play 81 home games per season, not 162. A season-long attendance of 3M would translate to an average of just over 37K per home game.

    That said, baseball’s problem, as I understand it, is that their fan base is skewing much older than other sports. In other words, MLB stands to lose a huge chunk of its fan base as the oldsters die off while a much smaller number of kids taking their place, because the kids are just more interested in other sports.

    Is the same thing happening in the NFL’s fan base? I’ve not seen any data to confirm or refute that.

  6. One of the biggest reasons is the fantasy football leagues. Many fans care less who is on TV or what teams win. The main concern is stats of players and points for their team, that is fantasy team.

  7. I have tuned in less and less to NFL games as Goodell continues to destroy the game. But hey, they are the richest sport. I guess that is all that matters because the integrity of the game is long gone!

    Seems the teams with the most players testing positive for PEDs are the ones making the most appearances in the post season.

    Then we have Vegas and the refs. It amazes me how Vegas is getting the games exactly right. Poor officiating is rampant. Right now they have Denver picked to win SB XLVIII. We shall see if they have this one correct as well.

  8. The actual number is 35-14 nfl over mlb. Which I think is true. No reason to doubt. For the people who say peds ruined baseball um how many fb players have tested positive. Everyone just assumes fb playes do roids. When baseball players do it, all of a sudden kts a sin. Fb is most popular, not gonna change for some time.

  9. The NFL is definitely my favorite sport and always has been. I used to follow baseball, but after they cancelled the World Series, I haven’t cared about it since. For some reason, I have never been able to get into college football. I like the atmosphere of CFB, but the game itself, I don’t care for. I like the NBA and college basketball both, but can’t say I love either one. Hockey is the one sport I seem to like more and more and even though it is not on the list I like to watch the PGA tour quite a lot.

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