Eyes on the nation’s most popular sports


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Since 1972, football has been the most popular spectator sport in the United States. 37 percent of Americans reported it as their favorite sport to watch.

Zachary Araki, A&E Editor

Across the nation, people tune in to watch teams compete in their favorite sports. 

According to a Gallup poll, 37 percent of Americans voted football as their favorite sport to watch followed by basketball at 11 percent, baseball at nine percent and soccer at seven percent in 2017. The same poll showed that the number of Americans who reported not having a favorite sport has increased from eight to 15 percent since 2000.

According to the global information and measurement company Nielsen Holdings, football made up 37 of the 50 most watched programs in 2017. The Gallup poll showed that football has been America’s most popular sport since 1972.

In the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s 2018 tournament, over 97 million viewers in the United States watched from the first four to the final four. 68, 257 people attended the national semifinals. Basketball has remained largely consistent since the beginning of the Gallup poll, increasing from eight to 11 percent.

According to Nielsen, over 40 million people watched the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in game seven of the 2016 World Series. In a Gallup poll, baseball was the most popular spectator sport in 1948 and 1960 in the United States. Though the sport’s popularity declined since that time, baseball remains among the top three spectator sports in the country.

Matt Riser, head coach of baseball, discussed baseball’s popularity in the country.

“It’s a national pastime,” said Riser. “There’s so much tradition in the game. You look from a professional standpoint, guys like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. You’re talking about over a century worth of history there all up to the uniforms. Uniforms don’t even change. They stay very traditional in what they do.”

Though the last of the four most popular sports, soccer is the only sport other than the above three to be a favorite by more than seven percent of Americans since 1997. According to Variety, 17.3 million viewers watched the 2014 World Cup final on ABC while the France and Croatia game in the 2018 World Cup drew in 11.8 million viewers.