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January 09, 2018

Poll: Soccer nearly cracks America's top three favorite spectator sports

The beautiful game is more popular than ice hockey and, in some age groups, baseball

Polls Soccer
081417_Yaro-Union_PSP Paul Rudderow/Philly Soccer Page

A recent Gallup poll found Americans like soccer more than ever before. But can it crack the nation's top three spectator sports?

Soccer’s coming, y’all.

A Gallup poll released last week looked into the popularity of America’s favorite spectator sports, and while this nation’s brand of football still reigns supreme, the sport the rest of the world calls football has made some popularity gains.

Long heralded (despite defensive comments to the contrary) as the sport of America’s future, “soccer now nearly matches baseball's popularity,” according to the poll. Translation: The sport darn near cracks the nation’s Top Three.

In a big picture sense, American football – while slipping since its peak popularity of a decade ago – is far and away the nation’s favorite.

Over the course of the past 10 years, soccer has made the biggest gains.

In that time span, football and baseball have dropped (six and four percent respectively), basketball and hockey have plateaued while soccer has jumped five percent overall.

In telephone interviews of some 1,049 adults conducted between December 4 and 11, 2017, 37 percent of all respondents said American football is their favorite sport to watch. Trailing it was basketball (11), baseball (9) and soccer (7).

Soccer actually cracks the top two among respondents between 18 and 34 years of age. In that bracket, football dips to 30 percent while soccer is tied with basketball at 11.

On the flipside, old heads above the age of 55 don’t even give the sport a second look, garnering just 1 percent of the vote.

You can also see differences when it comes to political ideology. 

Just five percent of conservatives tapped it as their favorite (fourth place) while 13 percent of liberals dug the beautiful sport (in third behind football and basketball).

“There is one other sobering statistic to consider. The number of Americans who say they do not have a favorite sport has grown from 8 percent in 2000 to 15 percent now – an increase larger than for any sport during that time, reads the poll summary.

The poll went beyond football, basketball, baseball and soccer. 

Here are the sports that soccer bested according to respondents: Ice hockey, auto racing, tennis, golf, volleyball, boxing, gymnastics, motorcross, ice/figure skating, rodeo, track and field, fishing, swimming, wrestling and bowling.

You can read the report and poll in its entirety via this link.