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12/17: Deflategate, FIFA Scandal, & Mizzou Protests Vie for Top Sports Story of 2015

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12/17: Deflategate, FIFA Scandal, & Mizzou Protests Vie for Top Sports Story of 2015

Three in ten sports fans, 30%, think the “Deflategate” controversy involving Tom Brady and the New England Patriots was the most profound sports story of 2015.  The resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter after 14 FIFA executives were arrested for their involvement in a corruption scandal, 27%, and the protest by the University of Missouri’s football team to fight campus racism, resulting in the resignation of the University’s president, 27%, follow.  The growing concern over Daily Fantasy Sports wagering on websites such as Draft Kings or Fan Duels receives 9%.  But, differences of opinion exist.  Latinos point to FIFA corruption as most significant.

It was a big year for the U.S. women’s soccer team, and American sports fans took notice.  About one in three, 33%, considers the team’s World Cup victory over Japan to be the single best sports accomplishment of the year.  American Pharaoh’s Triple Crown run came in second with 21% followed by the Kansas City Royals first World Series win since 1985 with 17%.  The New England Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl win since 2002 receives 14%.  13% point to the victory of the Golden State Warriors over the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA title as the biggest sports accomplishment of 2015.

Which player had the biggest impact on his or her sport in 2015?  Steph Curry of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, 27%, and New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, 27%, top the list.  Serena Williams, 19%, slides into the number three spot.

This Marist Poll has been conducted in conjunction with the Marist College Center for Sports Communication.

Click Here for Complete December 17, 2015 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

“These results affirm the significance of Tom Brady in the sports landscape,” says Keith Strudler, Director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication, “Brady is considered one of the two top athletes of the year but is also viewed as a central figure in one of the biggest sports stories of the year.”

Poll points:

  • 30% of American sports fans say “Deflategate” had the biggest impact on sports this year while 27% have this view of the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and an additional 27% have this opinion of the resignation of the University of Missouri’s president as a result of the protests by the school’s football team over campus racism.  Only 9% of sports fans mention growing concern over Daily Fantasy sports wagering on websites such as Draft Kings or Fan Duel.
  • Demographic differences exist.  “Deflategate” is thought to be the most influential sports story of the year by women who are sports fans, 33%, white sports fans, 32%, fans in the South, 31%, and those 45 or older, 30%.  Of note, 28% of fans 45 or older mention the protests at the University of Missouri.
  • The resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter is deemed the most resounding sports story by Latino sports fans, 46%, and fans in the West, 33%, and men, 32%.
  • 33% of sports fans in the Northeast think “Deflategate” is the story with the biggest impact on sports this year while 31% say the same about the resignation of Sepp Blatter.  Among Midwest fans, 31% cite the campus protests at the University of Missouri while 29% believe the “Deflategate” controversy was the most significant.  37% of African American sports fans note the importance of the campus protests at the University of Missouri while 34% think “Deflategate” was the most influential sports story in 2015.  Among those under 45 years old, 31% choose the FIFA scandal while 30% select “Deflategate.”
  • 33% of sports fans say the World Cup victory by the U.S. women’s soccer team over Japan is the biggest sports accomplishment of the year.  21% believe that honor goes to American Pharaoh’s Triple Crown win while 17% say the Kansas City Royals’ first World Series victory since 1985 deserves top honors.  14% say the New England Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl win since 2002 is the biggest sports accomplishment of the year. 13% have this opinion of the Golden State Warriors defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals.
  • While the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup win is considered the biggest sports accomplishment by sports fans in other regions, among fans in the Midwest, the World Cup win, 31%, and the Royals’ World Series victory, 28%, battle it out for this year’s top honor.
  • Among African American sports fans, 32% choose the U.S. women’s soccer team’s win while the same proportion, 32%, selects the Golden State Warriors’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers as the year’s biggest sports accomplishment.  More than three in ten white sports fans, 31%, consider the World Cup victory to take top honors while 27% say this year’s Triple Crown win by American Pharaoh deserves the noteworthy distinction.  42% of Latino sports fans mention the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory.
  • 27% of sports fans nationally say the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry had the biggest impact on the NBA this year.  Another 27% think NFL quarterback Tom Brady had the largest effect on his sport while 19% say tennis great Serena Williams had a major impact on tennis.  12% of American sports fans report professional golfer Jordan Spieth had the biggest impact on his sport in 2015, and 9% think professional soccer player Carli Lloyd had the greatest effect on the soccer world.
  • Demographically, Steph Curry is believed to have had the biggest impact on the NBA by African American fans, 40%, and those under 45 years old, 39%, including 43% of those 18 to 29 years old.  Men, 33%, Latinos, 31%, and sports fans who reside in the West, 31%, also have this view.
  • Tom Brady is thought to have had the largest effect on the NFL by Northeast fans, 35%, white sports fans, 30%, and women who follow sports, 30%.
  • 57% of Americans, similar to 60% last year, are sports fans.

Marist Poll Methodology

Marist Poll Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

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