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scarborough-sports-oct-2011.JPGAn October 2011 study from Scarborough Sports Marketing shows that more than half (53%) of American adults are “avid fans” of one of the following major sports: the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, college football and basketball, NASCAR, and the Olympics. However, results also show that significant percentages of fandom extend well beyond, and sometimes even exceed, the best-known and publicized sports.

Study results indicate the NFL is the most popular US sports league, with 62% of adults expressing some level of interest. The Olympics closely follow (58%), with MLB coming in third (49%), with college football close behind (45%). There is then a significant drop in the percentage of adults expressing some level of interest in the number five sports league, the NBA (35%).

Gymnastics, Figure Skating Beat College Hoop, NASCAR, NHL

Somewhat surprisingly, two sports often seen as niche events for women: gymnastics and figure skating (34% each), attract more interest than college basketball (33%), NASCAR (25%) or the NHL (23%). In addition, high school sports (28%) and the PGA tour (27%) also draw slightly higher levels of interest than NASCAR or the NHL.

Avid Gymnastics, Figure Skating Fans Mostly Female

Almost three-quarters (73%) of avid gymnastics fans are female and 81% of avid figure skating Fans are female. This is a unique demographic makeup since Scarborough data shows avid fans of sports like the Olympics, Women’s Tennis and the WNBA – classically “female friendly” sports – are only about 50% female.

This notable demographic base helps explain findings such as gymnastics fans are 53% more likely than all American adults to schedule a spa day, 30% more likely to visit a jewelry store and 33% more likely to visit a bridal store. Similarly, figure skating fans are 28% more likely to visit a florist and 27% more likely to visit a dry cleaner.

Pro Boxing Draws Hispanics, Smartphone Users

Though European soccer, Major League Soccer and Mexican soccer are all leagues with large Hispanic fan bases, pro boxing is the non-soccer sports league with the highest percentage of Hispanics among its avid fans – 35%. Avid pro boxing fans are also 58% more likely than all American adults to use their smartphones to listen to or download music, 67% more likely to check sports scores and updates, and a significant 110% more likely to watch free TV programs.

Wealthiest Racing Fans Prefer Formula One

Formula One Racing attracts the highest percentage of avid fans with $100K in annual household income, more than any of the eight motor sports measured. Overall, Formula One Racing fans are 7% more likely than other motor sports fans to own homes with $500,000-plus market values, yet Formula One Racing Fans are also 25% more likely to hold blue collar jobs.

Town Trends in Fandom

A local market look shows West Palm Beach, FL represents the top local market for figure skating, with 43% of adults characterized as fFans of the sport. Salt Lake City was overwhelmingly supportive of gymnastics with 45% Fans and Harlingen, TX is the top market for pro boxing with 37% of the market considered fans.

Harris: Men, Blacks Most Likely to Follow Football

Fifty-five percent of US adults follow professional football, according to Harris Poll data released in October 2011. Broken down demographically, poll results show men and blacks are the groups most likely to be pro football followers. Looking at gender differences, poll data indicates 71% of men but only 41% of women follow pro football. The other demographic breakdown that produces a similar disparity is analysis by ethnic group. This reveals that 72% of blacks, but only 54% of whites and 51% of Hispanics, follow pro football.

About the Data: Interviews were conducted between March and August 2011

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