12/18: NFL Domestic Violence Controversy Biggest Sports Story of 2014

December 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Special Events, Sports, Sports Bench

Looking back at some of the sports stories that made headlines in 2014, domestic violence in the National Football League tops the list as the year’s biggest sports story.  Regardless of demographic group, this story is the one that resonated most with sports fans nationally.

When it comes to the biggest sports accomplishment during the past twelve months, the San Francisco Giants third World Series victory in five years and the advance of the men’s national soccer team to the elimination round of the World Cup top the list.  And, while Peyton Manning is considered to be the athlete with the largest impact on his sport in 2014, LeBron James gives him a run for his money.  On many of these questions, there are differences based on race and age.

This Marist Poll is done in conjunction with The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.

“These results reinforce the prominence of football in America. It’s once again where America finds its biggest star and its most dire situation,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “Americans are sending the NFL a clear message that they want the League to establish a sustainable domestic abuse policy.”

Complete December 18, 2014 Marist Poll of the United States 

Poll points:

  • Nearly half of sports fans, 49%, cite the domestic violence controversies in the NFL as the story with the biggest impact on sports this year.  The banning of Donald Sterling, the, now, former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, from the NBA for his racist remarks places a distant second with 24%.  Academic fraud in University athletic programs is mentioned by 11% while another 11% think the suspension of Alex Rodriguez for using performing enhancing drugs had the largest effect on sports in 2014.
  • When it comes to the biggest sports accomplishment of the year, 29% of fans think the San Francisco Giants third World Series win in five years takes the top spot while 27% believe the advance of the U.S. Men’s national soccer team to the elimination round of the World Cup deserves the top honor.  One in five sports fans, 20%, mentions the wins by both UCONN’s men and women in the NCAA basketball championship, and a similar, 19%, cite Serena Williams 18th Grand Slam victory.
  • Age and race matter on this question.  38% of sports fans under 30 and 31% of those 60 and older choose the Giants’ win while 36% of those 30 to 44 think the men’s performance in the World Cup deserves the top honor.  There is little consensus among those 45 to 59.  Looking at race, 42% of Latino sports fans select the Giants’ World Series win while 37% of African Americans choose Serena Williams’ 18th Grand Slam title.  White sports fans are torn between the performance by the men’s U.S. soccer team, 30%, and this year’s World Series victors, 29%.
  • NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, 33%, edges out LeBron James, 29%, as the player who had the biggest impact on their sport this year.  This is the third year that Manning has been selected as the most influential player by sports fans.  A majority of sports fans, 55%, selected Manning in 2013.  MLB’s Derek Jeter was chosen by 24% of sports fans this year.  One in ten fans pick professional soccer player Lionel Messi.
  • Age and race make a difference.  42% of sports fans 60 and older and 38% of those 30 to 44 believe Manning had the largest influence on his sport, football.  32% of sports fans under 30 say James is tops as the player with the greatest impact on his sport, basketball.  There is little consensus among sports fans 45 to 59 years of age.  Nearly half of African American sports fans, 48%, and a plurality of Latinos, 35%, selects James while 37% of white sports fans choose Manning.
  • Six in ten Americans, 60%, up from 55% last year, are sports fans.

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, sports and society, and sports reporting and information.  Dr. Strudler also writes weekly sports commentary for WAMC, an NPR radio station in Albany, NY.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

9/18: Majority Calls Foul on NFL Response to Domestic Violence Cases, but Only Three in Ten Want Goodell to Go

September 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

In the wake of several cases of alleged domestic violence by professional football players, 53% of Americans, including 57% of football fans, think the National Football League has dropped the ball in handling the situation.  Still, only 29% of Americans and 32% of fans believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should lose his job.  43% of residents and 46% of fans do not want him to resign as commissioner.

In light of the controversy swirling around Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson, Americans also weighed in on whether or not it is wrong for parents to use corporal punishment to discipline their children.  60% of Americans, including 67% of women, do not think it is an appropriate way to discipline children.  34% of residents think it is an appropriate action for a parent to take, including 51% of Americans who live in the South.  In other regions of the country, only about one-quarter of residents agree.

Awareness of the NFL controversy over domestic violence is widespread.  86% of Americans, including 93% of football fans, have heard, at least, something about the accusations of domestic violence by NFL players.  About one in ten football fans, 11%, says the recent news about the NFL has made them less likely to watch the sport.  86% of football fans say their viewing habits will be unchanged.

 Complete September 18, 2014 USA NBC News/Marist Poll

 Poll points:

  • 53% of Americans disapprove of how the NFL has handled the domestic violence accusations against some of its players while 27% approve.  21% are unsure.  Among football fans, 57% say the League should have responded differently, and 30% report the NFL’s response has been on the mark.  14% are unsure.
  • When it comes to Goodell’s future, 29% of Americans want Goodell to resign.  43% think he should retain his position, and a notable 29% are unsure.  Among football fans, 32% believe Goodell should step down, 46% want him to remain commissioner, and 21% are unsure.
  • Looking at the impact this controversy has had on NFL viewership, 85% of residents, including 86% of football fans, say it has not changed the amount of football they watch.  However, 12% of Americans, including 11% of fans, report they are less likely to tune into NFL games.
  • While 60% of Americans, including 59% of football fans, report it is not acceptable to discipline their children by hitting them with a paddle, switch, or belt, 34% of residents say it is.  35% of football fans are among those who condone corporal punishment.
  • Looking at gender, 67% of women and 52% of men disapprove of physically reprimanding their children.
  • 51% of residents in the South believe corporal punishment is appropriate compared with 27% in the West, 25% in the Midwest, and 20% in the Northeast.
  • 86% have heard, at least, a little about the recent controversy involving the NFL, including 93% of football fans.
  • 71% of Americans describe themselves as football fans, including 77% of men who watch at least a little professional football and 65% of women.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables

 

 

5/14: PED Suspensions Warranted, Say Nearly Seven in Ten

May 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Baseball, Featured, Sports, Sports Bench

 Major League Baseball is in full swing, but has last season’s player suspensions for using performance-enhancing drugs rubbed fans the wrong way?  68% of baseball fans nationally think the MLB has taken the right steps.  In fact, one in five — 20% — believes the league hasn’t gone far enough.  Only 8% say their actions have gone too far.  Four percent are unsure.

Click Here for Complete May 14, 2014 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

Table: Has Major League Baseball Taken the Right Steps in Handling Players’ Use of Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

More Fans Expected to Head to the Ballpark 

While half of baseball fans — 50% — say they did not attend any MLB games last year and don’t plan to do so this season either, there has been an increase in the proportion of fans who think they will go to more games this year.  Nearly one in five — 19% — expects to go to more baseball games this season.  27% say they will attend about the same amount of games they did last year, and only 4% plan to go to fewer.

When Marist last reported this question in March 2013, 54% of fans said they wouldn’t be making a trip to the stadium.  13% reported they would be attending more games than in the past year while 28% said they would be attending about the same number of baseball games.  Six percent, at that time, believed they would be making fewer outings to the ballpark.

Key points:

  • Fans younger than 45 are the key.  32% of fans in this age group think they will be attending more baseball games this season.  This is up from 19% last year.  Among those 45 or older, 12% expect to make more trips to the stadium this year compared with 9% previously.
  • While fans who earn $50,000 or more annually — 22% — are slightly more likely than those who make less — 17% — to increase their ballgame attendance, there has been a bump in the proportion of fans in both income groups who expect to do so.  Last year, 15% of fans who earn $50,000 or more said they would be going to more games.  12% who made less said the same.

Although nearly half of fans — 49% — do not think the cost of a ticket to a major league game is a good value for the money, 41% believe it is a good bang for their buck.  10% are unsure.  These findings suggest more fans find value in going to a game this season than last spring.  At that time, 52% of fans said the price of a ticket was not a good value.  37% thought it was, and 11% were unsure.

How many Americans are baseball fans?  45% of residents follow professional baseball a great deal — 9%, a good amount — 8%, or a little — 28%.  However, a majority — 55% — does not watch baseball at all.

Table: More or Less Games than Last Year

Table: Ticket Prices Value

Table: Baseball Fans

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

 

5/5: Player’s Sexual Orientation Will Not Impact NFL Draft, Say Nearly Two-Thirds

May 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

Michael Sam, the University of Missouri defensive lineman who publicly announced he is gay, will participate in this year’s NFL Draft.  What impact, if any, will Sam’s sexual orientation have on his NFL prospects?  Close to two-thirds of football fans nationally — 65% — do not think it will make any difference where he is selected in the draft.  One in four — 25% — thinks NFL teams will be less likely to pick him while 6% say it will make teams more likely to select Sam.  Three percent are unsure.

Click Here for Complete May 5, 2014 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

This Marist Poll has been done in conjunction with The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.

Men are slightly more likely than women to think that Sam’s announcement will have a negative impact on his professional football future.  29% of men, compared with 20% of women, believe Sam’s sexual orientation will make NFL teams less likely to choose him.     

“These results indicate that many football fans view professional football as a sport which is increasingly accepting of openly gay athletes,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  ”They believe that Michael Sam’s abilities, not his orientation, will determine his professional future.”

To be eligible for the NFL Draft, football players need to be out of high school for at least three years.  And, more than seven in ten football fans — 71% — think this is the right amount of time to wait before entering the draft.  15% believe the length of time is too long while 12% say it is not long enough.  Two percent are unsure.

Table: Impact of Michael Sam’s Announcement that He is Gay on NFL Draft

Table: Length of Time after High School Football Players Need to Wait Before Entering NFL Draft

Majority Supports Rookie Salary Cap

57% of football fans think there should be a salary cap for new players and that they should be paid less than players who have more experience.  39%, however, believe rookies should receive whatever the market will pay them even if they earn more than their experienced teammates.  Four percent are unsure.  Men — 41% — are slightly more likely than women — 36% — to think the pay limit should be lifted.

How many Americans are football fans?  65% follow professional football, at least, a little.  This includes 22% who watch a great deal of the game, 16% who follow a good amount of it, and 27% who catch a few games.  36% of adults nationally do not follow the game at all.  The proportion of football fans has remained steady.  When Marist last reported this question in 2011, 67% of Americans said they followed football, at least, a little.

Although there is a gender divide, nearly six in ten women — 57% — say they are football fans.  This compares with more than seven in ten men — 72% — who follow the sport.

Table: Favor or Oppose NFL Salary Cap for New Players

Table:  Professional Football Fans

 How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

 

3/26: Race Impacts Decision Not to Pay College Athletes, Say More than Three in Ten

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Special Events, Sports, Sports Bench

Despite the money top college men’s basketball and football programs generate, college athletes are not paid, and 31% of Americans believe there is some truth to the argument that this is because many student athletes are African American.  This includes 4% who believe there is a lot of credence to that claim and 27% who say there is probably some legitimacy to it.  17% report there is not very much truth in it, and a majority — 53% — says the argument that race plays into the decision not to pay college athletes is false.  Similar proportions of college sports fans share these views.

This HBO Real Sports/Marist Poll has been conducted in conjunction with the Marist College Center for Sports Communication

Click Here for Complete March 26, 2014 USA HBO Real Sports/Marist Poll Release and Tables

“When the majority of revenue generating college athletes are unpaid African-American players and the majority of coaches are often white and well compensated, it almost compels the public to raise the question of race,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “It is a complex issue.  While sports often act as a true melting pot, it feels less apparent when financial compensation in college sports doesn’t reflect that ideal.”

Race matters.  More than six in ten African Americans — 61% — think top college athletes are unpaid because many of these athletes are African American.  About one-third of Latinos — 33% — and one in four whites — 25% — agree.  Looking at income, Americans who earn less than $50,000 annually — 38% — are more likely to say race factors into the decision to pay college athletes.  This compares with 24% of those who make $50,000 or more.  Women — 34% — are also more likely than men — 27% — to think there is some truth to the argument that race plays a role in determining whether or not college athletes are paid.

Looking at age, adults under thirty years old — 38% — are more likely to say there is some accuracy in the claim that top college athletes are not compensated because of race than are residents who are older.  29% of those 30 to 44, 25% of Americans 45 to 59, and 33% of those 60 and older share the view that race is a factor.

Do Americans think college athletes should be paid for their time practicing, travelling, and playing on the team?  67% do not think they should be monetarily compensated.  29% think they should be, and 4% are unsure.  The views of college sports fans reflect the opinions of residents, overall.

While more than seven in ten whites — 72% — and Latinos — 71% — think college athletes should not be paid, a majority of African Americans — 53% — believe college athletes should be compensated for their time.  Men — 35% — are more likely than women — 24% — to say student athletes should be paid.

If college athletes were paid a salary, nearly three in four U.S. residents — 73% — say it would make no difference in how much they enjoy watching college sports.  23% think it would make watching the games less entertaining while only 4% say it would increase their enjoyment.  Among college sports fans, 68% believe it would make no difference in their enjoyment while 27% think it would take something away from the pleasure they get from watching college sports.  Five percent think it would increase their enjoyment.

Table: Truth in Argument that Top College Athletes are not Paid Because Many are African American

Table: Should Top College Athletes be Paid?

Table: Amount of Enjoyment Watching College Sports if College Athletes were Paid

To Unionize or Not to Unionize?

75% of Americans, including the same proportion of college sports fans, think college athletes should not be allowed to join a union since they are not college employees.  More than one in five — 22% — believes student athletes should be able to join a union so they can receive payments and benefits.  Four percent are unsure.

Non-white residents — 28% — are more likely to support unionizing by college residents than white residents — 19%.  Nearly eight in ten white residents — 78% — compared with 67% of non-white Americans believe college athletes should not be able to join a union.

When it comes to special treatment by local authorities, about two-thirds of adults nationally — 66% — think top college athletes receive special treatment by town police in their college community.  One in four — 25% — reports student athletes are treated the same as their fellow students, and 9% are unsure.  Similar proportions of college sports fans share these views.

Table: Should College Athletes be Allowed to Unionize?

Table: Do Top College Athletes Receive Special Treatment?

Overemphasis Placed on College Sports, Say More than Six in Ten 

61% of Americans think college and universities with top men’s football and basketball programs put too much emphasis on athletics over academics.  34%, however, say these schools strike a good balance between education and sports.  Five percent are unsure.  The views of college sports fans reflect those of U.S. residents.

While older Americans are more likely to think colleges put too much emphasis on athletics, majorities in all age groups agree.  54% of those 18 to 29, 59% of residents 30 to 44, 61% of Americans 45 to 59, and 67% of those 60 and older say too much importance is put on sports.  Regardless of region, at least a majority of adults say colleges prioritize athletics over academics.  However, those in the Northeast — 63%, Midwest — 63%, and South — 61% — are slightly more likely than those in the West — 55% — to believe this to be the case.  

What is more important to Americans?  Most — 90% — care more about the academic reputation of their local colleges and universities.  Just 7% are more concerned with the athletic success of their local schools, and 3% are unsure.

Table: Do Colleges Put Too Much Emphasis on Athletics over Academics?

Table: Do You Care More about Athletic Success or the Reputation of College or University?

Bracket Bragging Rights? 

While 85% of Americans do not fill out a March Madness bracket, 15% say they do.  Of residents who fill out a bracket, most — 91% — do so just for fun.  Five percent fill out a bracket both for fun and for money.  Three percent play for the money, and 1% is unsure.

Not surprisingly, college sports fans are more likely to try to predict the winner of the NCAA Men’s College basketball tournament.  22% of college sports fans say they put together a bracket while 78% don’t participate.  Income matters.  More than one in five Americans who earn $50,000 or more — 21% — fills out a bracket.  This compares with only 8% who make less annually.  Men — 23% — are more than three times as likely as women — 7% — to make their picks.

Do Americans bet on college sports?  88% of residents report they have not placed a wager on college sports in the past year.  12%, however, say they have.  College sports fans are slightly more likely to bet on college sports.  17% of fans have done so in the past year while 83% have not.

And, when it comes to the number of college sports fans, about two-thirds of Americans — 66% — say they follow college sports at least a little bit.  This includes 12% who watch these sports a great deal, 18% who follow them a good amount, and 36% who catch a small amount of the games.  34% do not follow college sports at all.

Table: March Madness Bracket?

Table: Have You Bet on College Sports in the Past Year?

Table: College Sports Fans 

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

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, sports and society, and sports reporting and information.  Dr. Strudler also writes weekly sports commentary for WAMC, an NPR radio station in Albany, NY.

 

 

 

1/22: Marijuana Use in Pro-Sports: Keep it Banned, Say More than Six in Ten

January 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, Special Events, Sports, Sports Bench

Many Americans, including more than six in ten sports fans, think marijuana should continue to be banned in professional sports, regardless of state or federal laws which have legalized the substance.  62% of adults nationally believe the ban should stay in place.  36% of Americans think the ban on marijuana should be lifted, and 2% are unsure.  Similar proportions of sports fans share these views.

This HBO Real Sports/Marist Poll has been conducted in conjunction with the Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  The current edition of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel explores the use of marijuana in the NFL.  The program replays multiple times on HBO and will also be available on HBO ON DEMAND and HBO GO.

Click Here for Complete January 22, 2014 USA HBO Real Sports/Marist Poll Release and Tables

There are age and gender differences.  Older Americans are more likely than younger residents to say that marijuana should be banned.  Seven in ten adults 60 and older — 70% — think marijuana should not be allowed for professional athletes.  This compares with 65% of those 45 to 59, 57% of residents 30 to 44, and 51% of Americans under 30. Looking at gender, women — 67% — are more likely than men — 57% — to think marijuana should be off limits for professional athletes.

“While marijuana is banned in the NFL, players tell Real Sports it is widely used, and for reasons that many might not expect,” says Joe Perskie, Senior Producer for HBO’s Real Sports.

Does marijuana use by professional athletes to relieve pain and anxiety trump its negative effects on performance?  Nearly two-thirds of Americans — 64% — say professional athletes should not be allowed to use the drug because of the negative effects it has on their game.  34%, however, believe they should be permitted to use the drug for medicinal purposes, and 3% are unsure.  The views of sports fans are in line with the overall population.

“Americans hold professional athletes to very high standards.  Smoking marijuana, even if legal, would likely shatter the image of excellence we demand from our sports heroes,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “In the end, we expect professional athletes to do three things: make physical sacrifice, care deeply about winning, and be role models for kids.”

Again, there are differences by age.  Americans under thirty — 55% — are more likely to say athletes should be allowed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.  This compares with just 39% of residents 30 to 44 years old, 30% of those 45 to 59, and 23% of Americans 60 and older.

 

Table: Should Marijuana Continue to be a Banned Substance, Regardless of Federal or State Laws?

Table: Should Marijuana Use in Pro-sports be Allowed to Relieve Pain and Anxiety?

  How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

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, sports and society, and sports reporting and information.  Dr. Strudler also writes weekly sports commentary for WAMC, an NPR radio station in Albany, NY.

12/17: Boston Marathon Bombing, 2013 Sports Event Most Remembered

December 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, Special Events, Sports, Sports Bench

Many memorable sports stories marked 2013, but for more than seven in ten sports fans nationally, the bombing at the Boston Marathon is the most notable.  71% of sports fans have this view.  This compares with 14% who think the NFL concussion settlement was the most significant.  Seven percent report baseball’s Biogenesis drug scandal had the largest effect while an additional 7% say the hazing scandal involving the Miami Dolphins had the biggest impact on sports in 2013.  One percent is unsure.

Regardless of age, race, region, income, level of education, and gender, the deadly attack at the Boston Marathon is thought to be the event that resonated the most in the sports world and beyond.

Click Here for Complete December 17, 2013 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

This Marist Poll is done in conjunction with The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.

“While stories like the concussion settlement and Biogenesis scandal were important in the context of their sports, the marathon tragedy went further to impact the national conversation, even for those with little or no interest in the event itself,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “The Boston Marathon both vastly impacted and transcended sport at the same time.”

Table: Story with the Biggest Impact on Sports in 2013

Iron Bowl and BoSox Vie for Title of 2013’s Best Cinderella Story 

The matchup between the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers is one of college sports’ most heralded rivalries.  When the Tigers returned the Crimson Tide’s missed field goal at the end of the game, resulting in an upset victory for Auburn, it went down in the books for 36% of sports fans as the Cinderella story of 2013.  However, about one-third of sports fans — 33% — disagree and give that title to the Boston Red Sox’s ascent from the worst team in baseball to World Series Champions.  Nearly one in five sports fans — 18% — think the Pittsburgh Pirates making Major League Baseball’s playoffs for the first time in 21 years is the greatest underdog story of the year.  This compares with 11% who report the most unexpected sports outcome was Florida Gulf Coast making the Sweet 16 of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.  Three percent are unsure.

There are regional, racial, and gender differences.  While a plurality of fans in the Northeast — 38% — think the Red Sox season is the biggest Cinderella story of the year, a plurality of those in the South — 45% — believe Auburn’s upset victory deserves the title.  40% of sports fans in the West say the Red Sox story outdoes the Auburn victory.  35% think the opposite is true.  In the Midwest, 36% cite Auburn’s win as the biggest sports surprise.  This compares with 30% who believe the Red Sox turnaround is the most unexpected sports story of 2013.

Looking at race, 40% of white sports fans think Auburn’s upset victory is the best Cinderella story of 2013.  This compares with 38% of non-white fans who say the Boston Red Sox climb from last to champs is the biggest upset of the year.  A gender divide also exists.  38% of men say the outcome of the Iron Bowl trumps the year’s other major sports fairytales, and 30% point to the BoSox.  However, women divide.  36% say the Red Sox season is the best Cinderella story of the year compared with 33% who say Auburn’s win takes the top spot.

Table: Best Cinderella Story of 2013

Big Papi’s MVP Title and the Heat’s Winning Streak Top Sports Accomplishments 

Which sports accomplishment do fans consider to be the best in 2013?  Nearly three in ten — 29% — say the Red Sox’s David Ortiz winning the World Series MVP is the best.  The Miami Heat’s 27-game winning streak follows closely behind with 28%.  One in five — 20% — reports NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson winning his sixth Sprint Cup Championship takes top honors while 16% say Tiger Woods ranking as the number one golfer in the world is the biggest sports accomplishment of 2013.  Seven percent are unsure.

Age differences exist.  39% of those under thirty believe the Heat’s winning streak was the biggest accomplishment of the year.  The same proportion of those 30 to 44 — 39% — agree.  However, among fans 45 to 59, 35% say David Ortiz’s MVP title is the biggest sports accomplishment of 2013.  There is no consensus among those 60 and older.  One in four — 25% — cites David Ortiz being named World Series MVP.  This compares with 21% who mention the Heat’s winning streak, 20% who say Jimmie Johnson’s sixth Sprint Cup victory, and 20% who cite Tiger Woods’ number-one ranking.

Table: Single Best Sports Accomplishment of 2013

Peyton Manning Named Most Influential Athlete for Second Year

A majority of sports fans nationally — 55% — say Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the player who has had the biggest impact on his sport in 2013.  This is the second year in which Manning has received this title.  Miami Heat power forward LeBron James is considered by 20% to be the player who had the biggest impact on the NBA.  11% believe tennis great Serena Williams was the most influential on her sport while 10% report Detroit TigersMiguel Cabrera had the biggest impact on his sport this year.  Five percent are unsure.

Just how many Americans are sports fans?  A majority — 55% — are while 45% say they are not.

Table: Player with the Biggest Impact on Their Sport in 2013

Table: Sports Fans Nationally

 

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

10/23: Youth Football Takes Hard Hit… One-Third of Americans Less Likely to Allow Son to Play Football because of Head Injury Risk

October 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

Most Americans are aware of the connection between concussions suffered while playing football and long-term brain injury, and that information would influence some Americans’ decision to allow their son to play the sport if they had to make the choice.  About one in three Americans say this knowledge would make them less likely to allow a son to participate in the game.  In fact, nearly one in five Americans say this risk would be the key factor in deciding whether or not they would allow their son to step onto the gridiron.  About one-third of Americans has become more concerned because of the link between concussions suffered while playing football and long-term brain injury.

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

Click Here for Complete October 23, 2013 USA HBO Real Sports/Marist Poll Release and Tables

“Historically, youth football has fueled the NFL,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “Parents’ concern about the safety of the game could jeopardize the future of the sport.”

Most U.S. adults — 86% — have heard at least a little about the connection between concussions inflicted while on the football field and long-term brain injury.  This includes 55% who have heard either a great deal or good amount and 31% who have heard a little about this link.  14% have heard nothing at all about it.

Awareness varies based upon a family’s income.  While about two-thirds of Americans who earn $50,000 or more annually — 66% — have heard a great deal or a good amount about the issue, 47% of those who earn less say the same.  There are also differences based on education.  While 63% of college graduates have heard a great deal or a good amount about the link between these head injuries and long-term brain trauma, 50% of those without a college degree are comparably aware.

33% of Americans say the link between head injuries in football and long-term brain trauma would make them less likely to allow their son to play football if they had to make that choice.  Only 7% report it would make them more likely to do so, and 60% say it would make no difference to their decision.  Just how many Americans would ultimately allow their son to play the game?  85% would while a notable 13% would not.  Two percent are unsure.

For almost one in five Americans — 16%, the risk of long-term brain injury due to youth football participation would be the deciding factor in whether or not to allow their son to play football.  And, a majority of U.S. adults — 56% — say it would be one of the factors that influences their decision.  28% report this information would play no role at all in making that choice.

Nearly four in ten U.S. residents — 39% — report the recent information about long-term brain injury as a result of concussions incurred while playing football hasn’t changed their level of concern about the game.  However, 32% say it has made them more  concerned because of the serious risk of long-term brain injury while 30% report it has made them less concerned because coaches, parents, and players are more informed and can take greater precautions.

Table: Awareness of Connection between Concussion while Playing Football and Long-term Brain Injury (U.S. Adults)

Table: Allow Son to Play Football (U.S. Adults)

Table: More or Less Likely to Allow Son to Play Football Knowing the Connection between Concussion while Playing Football and Long-term Brain Injury (U.S. Adults)

Table: Whether Connection between Concussion while Playing Football and Long-term Brain Injury is Key Factor in Deciding Youth Football Participation (U.S. Adults)

Table: Level of Concern about Connection between Concussion while Playing Football and Long-term Brain Injury (U.S. Adults)

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Seven in ten Americans — 70% — think the benefits of playing football outweigh the risk of injury.  However, about one in four — 24% — believe the risk of injury is too high.  Seven percent are unsure.

A similar proportion of adults nationally — 74% — think playing football is a good way to build character and boys should be encouraged to play the game.  However, one in five — 20% — say the risk of injury is too high to allow boys to play football.  Six percent are unsure.

“What will be interesting to watch is if other sports begin to recruit those kids whose parents keep them from football,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “Football’s loss could be the inevitable gain of lacrosse, baseball, or even soccer.”

Table: Do the Benefits of Football Outweigh Risk of Injury? (U.S. Adults)

Table: Is Football a Good Way to Build Character or is the Risk of Injury Too High (U.S. Adults)

More Than One in Ten Fans Less Likely to Enjoy Game 

The recent information about the link between concussions suffered while playing football and long-term brain injury makes watching the sport less enjoyable for a notable 14% of football fans.  Only 2% report it makes the game more enjoyable to watch, and 84% say it makes no difference to their viewing pleasure.

In their own communities, how big of a deal is football?  Nearly seven in ten Americans — 69% — report a lot of people follow and talk about the sport.  One in four — 25% — say some people are engaged in the game.  Only 7% do not follow or talk about football.

Table: Has Enjoyment of Football Changed because of Link to Injury? (Fans Nationally)

Table: Community Interest in Football (U.S. Adults)

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

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, sports and society, and sports reporting and information.  Dr. Strudler also writes weekly sports commentary for WAMC, an NPR radio station in Albany, NY.

7/23: More Than Six in Ten Fans Believe Connection to Biogenesis Steroid Clinic Too Little to Justify MLB Suspensions

July 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Baseball, Featured, Sports, Sports Bench

An investigation by Major League Baseball is underway to determine whether or not to suspend players associated with the Miami-based clinic, Biogenesis, that provided performance enhancing drugs to other players.  But, a majority of baseball fans nationally do not think that an association with the clinic is enough to warrant disciplinary action.  61% of fans say it is not right for the MLB to suspend players who did not test positive for performance-enhancing drugs but are connected to the Biogenesis clinic.  28% think it is right for the players to be suspended, and 11% are unsure.

Click Here for Complete July 23, 2013 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

“Sports fans are very loyal to their favorite athletes, and for most, it would take true hard evidence to change their perceptions of these athletes,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “Circumstantial evidence, no matter how strong, probably isn’t going to convince most fans.”

The poll was conducted prior to the suspension of Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun yesterday.  At this point, few fans know a lot about the scandal.  Just 24% say they have heard either a great deal — 13% — or a good amount — 11% — about MLB players and the Biogenesis clinic.  26%, have heard a little and 50% know nothing at all about it.

This Marist Poll has been done in conjunction with The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.

Table: Right or Not Right for MLB to Suspend Players Connected to Miami Clinic?

Table: Awareness of MLB Players and Biogenesis Clinic

The Great Hall of Fame Steroid Debate

More than three in four baseball fans — 78% — think players who have used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame.  18% think these players should be, and 4% are unsure.

“When it’s proven that an athlete cheated, most sports fans aren’t just upset, they often feel betrayed,” says Dr. Keith Strudler, Director of The Marist College Center for Sports Communication.  “They seem to show unusual disdain towards their former heroes, refusing them the ultimate reward of entering the Hall of Fame.”

Time has not healed all wounds.  When Marist last reported this question in April 2009, 70% of baseball fans thought players who used steroids should not be admitted to the Hall of Fame.  24% believed they should be given this honor, and 6%, at the time, were unsure.

There are age differences.  Fans under 45 years old are more forgiving than those who are older.  24% of younger fans think steroid use should not keep players from the Hall of Fame.  13% of those 45 and older share this view.

Table: Steroid Use and the Hall of Fame

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

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, sports and society, and sports reporting and information.  Dr. Strudler also writes weekly sports commentary for WAMC, an NPR radio station in Albany, NY.

3/27: A Day at the Ballpark? MLB Games a No-Go for a Majority of Fans

March 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Baseball, Featured, Sports, Sports Bench

Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is almost here, but baseball fans nationally may not be flocking to the field.  According to this Marist Poll, 54% of fans did not attend any games last year and do not plan to attend any games this year.  28% say they will venture out to the ballpark about the same amount as they did last year while 13% believe they will attend more games than last season.  Six percent report they will go to fewer games than last season.

Click Here for Complete March 27, 2013 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

Little has changed on this question since last year.  At that time, 53% of baseball fans said they were not planning to attend to any MLB games nor did they attend any games the season before.  31% reported they would go to the same amount of games as they had previously while one in ten — 10% — thought they would go to more baseball games.  Six percent believed they would attend fewer games.

Of note regionally, on the heels of the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victory and off-season acquisitions by other Pacific Coast teams, a majority of baseball fans in the West — 53% — plan to attend at least the same number of games they did last year.  Included here, are 20% who say they will take more trips to the ballpark and 33% who think their attendance will be about the same as last season.

Ticket prices could play a role.  52% of fans nationally do not think the cost of an MLB ticket is a good value for the money.  37% believe the experience is a good value for the price, and 11% are unsure.  Last year, 56% of fans did not think they got a good bang for their ticket buck while 34% reported admission prices were a good value.  10% were unsure.

While fans in the Northeast remain the most dissatisfied with ticket prices, fewer have this opinion.  More than six in ten baseball fans in this region — 63% — do not think the price of an MLB ticket is a good value.  This compares with 73% who had this view last year.  In the Midwest, a majority of fans — 55% — say the experience is not worth the cost of a ticket.  47% of fans in the South and 45% of those in the West share this view.  Last year, 55% of Midwest fans, 52% of those in the South, and 47% of fans in the West did not think the ticket price for a Major League Baseball game was a good value for the money.

But, there is some good news for America’s pastime, there has been a bump in the proportion of baseball fans nationwide.  56% of adults watch professional baseball, at least, a little.  This includes 9% who watch a great deal of the sport, 10% who follow a good amount of it, and 37% who watch a little baseball.  45% do not watch any of the game.  When Marist last reported this question, half of adults — 50% — reported they were baseball fans.

Table: More or Less Games than Last Year

Table: Ticket Prices Value

Table: Baseball Fans

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample

 

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