Among adults who said that they follow at least one sport, 36 percent chose professional football as their favorite. Major League Baseball came in second at 13 percent. The gap between football and baseball widened, from 14 percentage points in the 2011 poll to 23 percentage points in this year’s survey. That 23-point gap is the largest disparity between the No. 1 and No. 2 sports since the poll’s inception in 1985. Professional football has been selected as the most popular sport in each year since the poll began.
The NFL has grown from 24 percent choosing it as their favorite sport in 1985 to 36 percent in 2011. The gap between football and the second-most popular sport has grown as well, from one percentage point in 1985.
The percentage of fans that named pro football as their favorite sport jumped from 31 percent in 2010 — a five-percentage-point increase, the highest in the poll’s history. Since 1985, the NFL’s popularity has increased by 12 percent while baseball, which remains the No. 2 sport, has dropped by 10 percent. No other sport has increased by more than three percent during that span.
Full poll results and methodology are available from Harris Interactive.
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