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