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



5/5: 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


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.

9/27: No Clear NFL Surprise

September 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

With the NFL season underway, is there a sleeper team in the mix?  According to this Marist Poll, there’s no clear surprise among football fans nationally.  Nine percent of fans think the Detroit Lions will be the biggest surprise this season, 6% believe the Dallas Cowboys will come out of nowhere while the same proportion — 6% — say the Philadelphia Eagles will be this year’s upset team.  The Green Bay Packers are perceived by 5% to charge the field and shock football fans while 4% say the Oakland Raiders will split the uprights as the NFL’s surprise of the season.  A majority — 55% — believe another team will shock fans and commentators alike, and 15% are unsure.

football in grass


Click Here for Complete September 27, 2011 USA Marist Poll Release and Tables

The proportion of football fans remains consistent.  67% of adults nationally report they watch football at least a little.  Included here are 22% who tune into the sport a great deal, 17% who follow it a good amount, and 28% who watch it a little.  34% of U.S. residents, however, do not follow the sport at all.

In November 2010, 68% followed professional football at least a little.  Included here are 18% who admitted to being an armchair quarterback most of the time, 15% who caught a good amount of football fever, and 35% reported they followed a little of the action on the gridiron.  32%, at that time, said they had no interest in the sport.

Table: NFL Surprise of 2011-2012 Season

Table: Professional Football Fans

Marist Poll Methodology

2/4: The Gridiron vs. Madison Avenue: Game Beats Out Ads

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers will face off this Sunday in Super Bowl XLV.  But, there’s an off-field battle brewing.  Of American adults who are planning to watch the big game this year, will they be tuning in for the game or for the ads?  According to this national Marist Poll, the battle for the Lombardi trophy reigns supreme.  74% say they watch the Super Bowl more for the game while 26% tune in more for the commercials.



Little has changed since last year.  In Marist’s February 2010 survey, 78% reported they watched more for the game while 22% said they wanted to check out the commercials.

There currently is a gender gap.  84% of men are more into the game itself rather than the ads.  This compares with 63% of women.

Table: Watch for the Game vs. Ads

Marist Poll Methodology

11/23: Helmet-to-Helmet Hits: Football Fans Define the Penalty

November 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

The NFL has been cracking down on players who commit illegal helmet-to-helmet hits with fines and suspensions.  But, what do football fans think the punishment should be for this type of player conduct?  More than one-fifth — 27% — believe these players should be, both, fined and suspended.  An additional 31% say they should be only fined while 22% believe they should just be suspended.  One-fifth — 20% — believe neither punishment should be used.



Younger football fans are more tolerant of helmet-to-helmet hits. 27% of those younger than 30 years old don’t think any punishment should be imposed compared with 14% of fans 60 and older.

There is also a gender gap on this question. More men — 26% — compared with women — 11% — don’t think players should be penalized at all for these hard hits.

As for the number of U.S. residents who are professional football fans, 68% of residents report they watch the sport, at least, a little. There has been no change on this question since Marist’s October survey.

Table: Punishment for Helmet-to-Helmet Hits
Table: Professional Football Fans

Marist Poll Methodology

Related Story:
Interview: Verne Lundquist Discusses Hard Hits on the Gridiron

10/1: Majority of U.S. Residents College Football Fans … Nearly Half Watch NFL & College Ball

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

54% of U.S. residents are college football fans.  This includes 12% who watch college football a great deal, 10% who enjoy a good amount of it, and 32% who say they follow it a little.  46% do not watch college football at all.



Men, residents who earn $50,000 or more annually, and those in the Midwest, West, and South are those who are most likely to be college football fans.

Americans, however, are more inclined to be professional football fans than college football fans.  More than two-thirds of U.S. residents — 68% — tune into the NFL at least a little bit.  This includes 20% who watch the sport a great deal, 16% who follow it a good amount, and 32% who catch it a little.  32% do not watch it all.

Although there is little difference among geographic regions, men and Americans younger than 45 years old are more likely to be professional football fans.

Is there an overlap in the proportion of U.S. residents who watch both professional football and college football?  Yes.  Nearly half of Americans — 49% — watch both NFL and college football.  The proportion who watches just professional football outnumbers those who tune into just college football.  Nearly one in five — 19% — check out only the pros tossing the pigskin around while only 5% follow just college teams.  More than one in four residents — 27% — do not watch either professional or college football.

Table: College Football Fans
Table: Professional Football Fans
Table: NFL vs. College Football Watchers

Marist Poll Methodology

9/17: Manning Bowl 2010: Peyton and the Colts Favored

September 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

Quarterback brothers Eli and Peyton Manning will square off this Sunday night when the Indianapolis Colts play the New York Giants.  So, which brother will claim bragging rights in the Manning family?  According to 61% of football fans nationally, Peyton Manning will lead the Colts to victory this Sunday while 27% report that younger brother Eli and the Giants will be triumphant.  12% are unsure.

Peyton Manning (Photo courtesy of Whitehouse.gov)

Peyton Manning (Photo courtesy of Whitehouse.gov)

While Peyton Manning is the favorite among football fans, regardless of geographic region, more fans in the Northeast (40%) than in the West (25%), Midwest (23%), and the South (22%) think Eli Manning will lead the Giants to victory.

Table: Which Manning Brother will be Victorious?

Saints Shine as Early Super Bowl Favorites

The NFL season may have just begun, but football fans are already prognosticating about the Super Bowl.  Who is the early favorite?  13% of football fans think the New Orleans Saints will receive the Lombardi trophy for the second consecutive year.  9% have their money on the New England Patriots while 7% predict the Pittsburgh Steelers will be victorious.  The Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, and Green Bay Packers each receive the support of 6% of football fans.  34% think another team will win, and 19% of fans are unsure.

Not surprisingly, there are regional differences on this question.  Football fans in the Northeast – 22% — are more likely to choose the Patriots than any other team.  In the Midwest, 15% back the Saints, but the Colts and Packers follow closely behind.  Each receive 12%.  The Saints are also the top pick in the South.  Here, 16% predict the Saints will win the Super Bowl.  13%, though, are banking on the Cowboys.  And, in the West, the Saints and the Steelers vie for the top spot.  Each team gets the support of 10% of football fans.

Men are more likely than women to favor the Saints in their Super Bowl pick.

Table: 2011 Super Bowl Picks

Marist Poll Methodology

9/8: NY Jets vs. NY Giants: Which Will Have the Better Season?

September 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

Who do football fans think will have the better football season this year?  Will it be the New York Jets or the New York Giants?  Find out in the latest NY Daily News/Marist Poll.  To read the full Daily News article, click here.



Tables for The Marist Poll Conducted for the Daily News:

NY Football Team with Better Season

Football Fans

Marist Poll Methodology

2/5: Advocacy Ads During the Super Bowl? Public Okays Tebow Ad

February 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Football, Sports, Sports Bench

Although more than three-quarters of Americans who plan to tune in this Sunday — 78% — say they watch the Super Bowl for the game, a notable proportion — 22% — say the commercials are the main attraction.

Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow (Photo courtesy of the White House)

As usual, this year’s Super Bowl ads are generating a lot of attention, but the introduction of advocacy ads is adding a new layer to the discussion.  Networks have, previously, been hesitant to include issue-related commercials during Super Bowl coverage.  And, nearly one-half of Americans — 49% — agree with that precedent, saying it is inappropriate for such ads to be allowed during the game.  44%, on the other hand, believe they are appropriate.

Although 49% of Americans oppose the inclusion of advocacy ads during the Super Bowl, 60% think CBS has made the right move to allow a pro-life ad sponsored by the group Focus on the Family, featuring Heisman Trophy winner and Florida Gators Quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother.  30%, though, think it should not air, and 10% are unsure.

Overall, how should CBS make the decision about whether to air responsibly-produced advocacy ads?  If it were up to the American people, 34% report the network should pick and choose the issue-related commercials to be included while 25% believe all advocacy ads should be allowed on a first-come basis.  36% don’t think they should be aired at all.

Table: Watch for Game vs. Ads
Table: Appropriateness of Airing Advocacy Ads
Table: Tim Tebow Ad
Table: Decision-making Process

Marist Poll Methodology

Related Stories:

2/5: Advocacy Ads: The Lasting Impact?

2/5: Advocacy Ads: A Broadcast Veteran’s View

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