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7/7: No Goal for World Cup in United States


7/7: No Goal for World Cup in United States

Even with the hype surrounding the World Cup, the tournament hasn’t been able to gain a large foothold in the United States.  When this poll was conducted, while the United States was still in the tournament, 63% of residents nationally were not watching any of the matches while 37% caught some or all of the World Cup.  Included here are 27% who were watching some and 10% who were checking out most of it.



Interest in watching grows when looking at residents who played soccer as a child.  Among this group, 58% tuned in for at least a portion of the tournament.  This includes nearly one-quarter — 24% — who report they were watching most of the World Cup at the time, and 34% who were tuning in to some of it.

Residents in the Northeast (48%), those in the West (38%) and in the South (36%) were more likely to watch, at least, some of the tournament than those in the Midwest (27%).

There were also income, ethnic, age, and gender differences in World Cup viewing habits.  Americans with higher annual incomes (47%), non-whites (46%), those younger than 45 (44%), and men (44%) were more likely to watch, at least, some of the event.

Table: Watching the World Cup

Soccer More Popular Among Younger Americans

Most U.S. residents — 74% — report they did not play soccer as a child.  26%, however, did.  Younger Americans are more likely to have played the sport in their youth.  42% of those 18 to 29 and 36% of residents 30 to 44 took the “pitch” as a kid.  This compares with 22% of those 45 to 59 and 11% of residents 60 and older.  By a two-to-one margin, men played soccer more than women.  34% of men took up the sport when they were young while 17% of women report doing the same.

Table: Soccer as Childhood Sport

Baseball Tops List of Favorite Childhood Sports

Among residents who played sports as a child, America’s pastime takes the crown as their favorite childhood sport.  27% enjoyed playing baseball or softball the most as a child.  Basketball comes in a close second with 23%, and football rounds out the top three with 19%.  One-tenth of Americans say they enjoyed soccer the most.  9% chose tennis.  4% preferred hockey while 8% liked playing something else entirely.

Baseball, however, is not cross-generational.  The lower one goes on the age spectrum, the less likely residents who played sports as a child are to say baseball was their preferred sport.  16% of those 18 to 29 say baseball was their sport of choice.  Instead, 25% rate football the highest while 24% in this age group claim basketball as their favorite.  Looking at those 30 to 44, 24% give the top spot to basketball while 23% enjoyed baseball the most.  31% of Americans 45 to 59 say baseball topped their list as a kid.  37% of those 60 and older report the same.

Table: Favorite Childhood Sport

Marist Poll Methodology

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  1. Jerome

    July 18, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    The 2014 world cup was amazing for #USA. It was a great competition for them and they deserved to go further in the contest.

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  3. Reed

    July 8, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    The headline is misleading.
    The TV data don’t mean much in isolation. In absolute numbers, it doesn’t look like many people were watching (although given that the games were on while most people are working, not bad) but the numbers don’t look nearly as bad when compared to what you’d get if you polled how many people watched the NBA finals or the World Series. Even the Super Bowl, contrary to common wisdom, doesn’t draw the majority of eyes in the country. Nobody would say those sports are struggling.

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