2011 has been a big year for sports! And, of all the great moments, the win by USA women’s soccer over Brazil in the World Cup takes the top spot as the best single sports accomplishment of the year. Nearly one-third of sports fans nationally — 32% — have this view. The sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers by the Dallas Mavericks comes in a distant second with 18% while Derek Jeter getting his 3,000th hit is perceived to be the most significant sports accomplishment of 2011 by 15%. 13% believe Butler’s second trip to the NCAA Championship rates most significant while 11% say the Rose Bowl win by Texas Christian University deserves that description. Five percent think another sports moment is the best, and 6% are unsure.
This Marist Poll has been done in conjunction with The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.
“These results speak to the public’s greater respect for women’s sports as well as our clear thirst for nationalism through sport,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication. “We should always consider that while we live in an increasingly global society, sport remains one of the few places to reclaim national identity and superiority. That may be particularly true as the United States faces economic uncertainty amidst the rise of new emerging superpowers.”
While those 30 years of age and older — 31% of those 30 to 44, 39% of those 45 to 59, and 32% of those 60 and older — rank the World Cup win as the best single sports accomplishment of the year, 30% of those under 30 say the Mavericks’ victory deserves the title.
More women — 37% — than men — 29% — report USA besting Brazil in the World Cup takes the number one slot.
Packers Split the Uprights … Super Bowl Win Called Best Sports Championship of 2011
The Lombardi Trophy isn’t the only award the Green Bay Packers have received in 2011. The team’s Super Bowl victory is considered to be the best sports championship of the year by 36% of sports fans. Three in ten — 30% — say the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series was the home run of sports this year while 15% think the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA Championship win was a slam dunk. The Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup win and Rory McIlroy’s US Open victory are perceived by 8% and 5%, respectively, as the best sports championship of 2011. Three percent select another championship, and 3% are unsure.
There are age and gender differences on this question. While more than four in ten sports fans under 30 — 41% — and 38% of those 60 and older rate the Packers’ Super Bowl victory as the greatest championship of the year, there is less of a consensus among fans in other age groups. 33% of those 30 to 44 choose the Super Bowl win while 29% select the Cardinals’ World Series victory. Among fans 45 to 59, 32% select the Packers’ victory while the same proportion — 32% — rate the Cardinals’ World Series victory as the top championship of 2011.
Lockouts Have Biggest Impact on Sports in 2011 … Aaron Rodgers Most Influential Player
A plurality of sports fans — 41% — say, when it comes to the biggest impact on sports this year, the NBA and NFL lockouts and labor disputes have left the largest mark. Nearly three in ten — 28% — think the scandals in college athletics have had the greatest impact while 15% report investigations and trials for performance enhancing drugs have topped the list. 12% believe college conference realignment has had the most impact, and 4% are unsure.
While 43% of fans in the West, 42% of those in the Midwest, and 42% of fans in the South believe the lockouts had the biggest impact, 41% of Northeast fans say the same about the scandals in college athletics.
Which player has had the biggest mark on his sport in 2011? 32% of fans say NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been the most influential. Nearly one in five — 19% — report NBA player LeBron James had the biggest impact on basketball while 15% say NFL quarterback Tim Tebow had the biggest effect on football. Golfer Rory McIlroy is deemed by 13% to be the player with the largest impact on his sport while 12% report NBA player Dirk Nowitski greatly impacted basketball. Nine percent are unsure.
While older sports fans — 42% of those between 30 and 44 years of age, 31% of those 45 to 59, and 31% of those 60 and older — say Rodgers had the biggest impact in 2011, younger fans — 34% of those under the age of 30 — think LeBron James has.
There is a gender difference. 39% of men say Aaron Rodgers deserves the title of most influential sports player. However, there is less of a consensus among women. Here, 23% select Rodgers while 22% choose LeBron James.
Just how many adults nationally are sports fans? More than six in ten — 61% — say they are while 39% report they are not.
About Keith Strudler, Ph.D.
Keith Strudler, Ph.D., is the director for the Marist College Center for Sports Communication. Dr. Strudler founded Marist’s popular concentration in sports communication in 2002, now one of the nation’s largest in the discipline. He studies and teaches in the areas of sports media, sport and society, and sports reporting and information. Dr. Strudler also writes weekly sports commentary for WAMC, an NPR radio station in Albany, NY.