2/11: Let the Games Begin! 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver

Tomorrow night, the eyes and ears of the world will be focused on Vancouver, British Columbia for the Opening Ceremonies of the XXI Olympic Winter Games.

While Canadian pride is sure to glow during the games, how engaged will Americans be?  76% of U.S. residents report they will follow at least a little of the games.  This includes 37% who plan to tune in a little, 22% who say they will watch a good deal of them, and 17% who are die-hards and report they will watch a great deal of the games.  24% will not check out the Winter Olympics at all.

Although there is little difference between the sexes on this question, there is an age gap.  Older Americans are more likely to watch at least some of the Olympics than are their younger counterparts.

Table: Watch the 2010 Winter Olympics
Skating Glides In To Top Spot Among Americans

U.S. residents have definite preferences when it comes to their favorite Olympic sport.  32% enjoy skating the most.  29% pick skiing as their favorite, and rounding out the top five are snowboarding, ice hockey, and bobsledding, each receiving 6%.  11% report they do not have a favorite Olympic sport.

When Marist asked this question prior to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, skating topped Americans’ list with 50%.  26% reported skiing was their preferred sport.  Hockey and snowboarding each received 6%, and luge followed closely behind with 5%.

Americans may have their preferred sport, but most do not have a favorite athlete participating in the games.  89% of residents do not have a specific competitor who appeals to them, and the remaining 11% do have an athlete on their radar screens.

More men than women have a favorite athlete competing in Vancouver.  14% of men compared with 8% of women have a specific athlete who they will follow.

Table: Favorite Olympic Sport
Table: Favorite Olympic Sport (2006)
Table: Favorite Olympic Athlete

Athletes Good Role Models … Steroids Not the Norm

Most Americans – 88% — believe Olympic athletes teach children mostly good things while only 6% think they set bad examples.

On the question of steroid use, seven in ten Americans believe steroids are not commonly used by Olympians.  23%, on the other hand, think their use is common practice by many of the athletes.  7% are unsure.

Younger Americans are more cynical here.  31% of those age 18 to 29 and 27% of those 30 to 44 believe many Olympic athletes use steroids.  This compares with 19% of those between the ages of 45 and 59 and 18% of those 60 and older.

Table: Olympic Athletes as Role Models
Table: Steroid Use Among Olympic Athletes

The Road Most Travelled?

Just how many Americans dreamt of standing atop the Olympic podium?  Not as many as you might think.  Just 13% aspired to become an Olympic athlete as a child while 87% did not.

More younger Americans than older ones dreamt of becoming an Olympian as a child.  21% of those 18 to 29 wanted to be an Olympic competitor compared with 13% of Americans 30 to 44, 14% of residents 45 to 59, and 9% of those 60 and older.

Table: Olympic Aspirations

Marist Poll Methodology

Related Story:

2/11: The Winter Games: An Interview