Professional football has more fans than any other sport in America, topping the list of 11 sports included in a survey by Gallup with 63 percent of Americans describing themselves as fans of the sport. Professional baseball is next (56 percent), followed by college football (53 percent), figure skating (50 percent), and college basketball (47 percent).
But it’s the demographic information about the fans of each sport that will prove most intriguing to public relations and sports marketing professionals. For example:
- Pro football has broad support. It’s one of only three sports where a majority of women polled consider themselves fans. It also draws more of its fan base from younger Americans, with about seven in 10 Americans below the age of 50 describing themselves as fans, compared to just 47 percent over the age of 65. Support is higher in suburban and urban areas than it is in rural America.
- Pro baseball is more popular among older fans, with 57 percent of those over 50 describing themselves as baseball fans. The sport also appeals more to white Americans than to non-whites.
- Figure skating is the only sport that has more female than male fans. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of women consider themselves fans, compared to 32 percent of men. Figure skating also has an older fan base than most sports.
- Professional basketball has the strongest appeal to non-whites, with 77 percent of blacks indicating they are fans, compared to just 40 percent of whites. The sport also has younger fans, with almost six in 10 of those between the ages of 18 and 29 describing themselves as fans, compared to just 44 percent of 30 to 49 year olds.
- Auto racing fans are especially likely to be male (48 percent of males are auto racing fans compared to 30 percent of females) and also white (41 percent compared to 29 percent of non-whites). Racing fans are also less likely to hold college degrees.
- Fans of golf tend to be older (48 percent of Americans 65 and older are golf fans, compared to just 29 percent of 18-29 year olds) and to come from higher income households. There is a large gender gap among golf fans, as 44 percent of men are fans of the sport compared to just 28 percent of women.
- Of the major team sports, professional ice hockey has the smallest fan base in the United States, with 31 percent of Americans saying they are fans of the sport. Hockey fans tend to be very young—40 percent of 18-29 year olds say they are hockey fans compared to just 19 percent of those 65 and older. Whites are nearly twice as likely to be fans of hockey as are blacks.