Baseball might have the nickname as America’s Pastime, but a Gallup poll says that does not mean it is the most popular sport in the country. According to the poll, football is and has been America’s favorite sport for the last fifty years.
Although football has taken plenty of heat over the past decade, it is still extremely popular across the country. Baseball was the perennial favorite for decades until 1972 when football took the top spot. It has not relinquished the title since. 37 percent of American adults chose football as their favorite sport to watch in a poll of 1,049 adults across the US. Basketball came in second at 11 percent, and baseball followed it with nine percent.
Both football and baseball fans should worry about their favorite games for different reasons. Baseball’s decline has been well-documented, so it should be no shock to see it have such a low favorability. Nine percent is the lowest percentage baseball has received since the start of the poll in 1937. Soccer, at seven percent, is nearly as popular as baseball, a shocking statement twenty years ago.
As for football, it might hold the top spot, but it is not nearly as strong as it used to be. It has dropped six percentage points since 2006. A few factors likely played into this dropoff. Since a video surfaced of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his wife, the NFL has taken heat for its treatment of players connected to domestic assault. In addition, much has been written about the connection between football and brain injuries, specifically CTE. Many fans have become turned off by the violence knowing it can lead to difficult lives and possibly death for the players. Lastly, many have criticized the game for its national anthem protests.
With basketball’s popularity rising domestically and internationally, could we see a changing of the guard in the US? Will basketball ever overtake football the way football did to baseball? It’s too early to tell, but we will certainly keep an eye out.