The most popular professional sports in the U.S. would be: 1. football 2. basketball 3.baseball . . But if you are talking about spec. Wise NASCAR is number 1.Relative Popularity of Pro Sports "Popularity" could be interpreted in a number of ways. It could be the number of fans. If so, what qualifies someone as a fan? You might measure popularity by TV and radio audience ratings, i.e. how many follow the games, or how many people attend the games, via ticket sales stats. But these wouldn't be perfect gauges of popularity. Stadiums are different sizes, and the potential markets are different sizes. The best method of measuring popularity might be to survey people and find out how they rank spectator sports relative to each other.
According to ESPN's survey: * Football was first. * Baseball was second. * Basketball was third. Those were followed by college football, college basketball, then NASCAR, which had something like 2.2 percent of the population. NASCAR is the biggest sport in certain areas, e.g. in Daytona and Alabama.
Yet another method might be to measure sales of logo gear. For the 1990s, here is that list: 1.) National Football League 2.) National Basketball Association 3.) Major League Baseball 4.) NCAA & other college sports 5.) National Hockey League Football and baseball were closely tied for first at the beginning of the decade. Football overtook baseball in terms of merchandise sales around 1993. The 1994-1995 MLB strike put the final nail in the coffin. The strike seriously damaged professional baseball's fan base. Basketball overtook baseball shortly after 1994. In addition to the baseball strike, this was the Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls era. Sales of NFL and NBA gear still far exceed sales of MLB gear. However, it should be noted that this is worldwide. It is not limited to sales inside the US. People around the world wear NY Yankees, Chicago Bulls, Oakland Raiders, etc. gear without being fans. Basketball, especially, began to gain international popularity in the mid-1990s. It is now believed to be second only to soccer (what the rest of the world calls football) in world popularity. In recent years, NASCAR racing has become hugely popular in the United States. The "sport" of pro wrestling has also made a big comeback.
In the United States today, a reasonable estimate of the popularity order might be: * NFL (National Football League) * NBA (National Basketball Association) * MLB (Major League Baseball) * NCAA football (college football) * NCAA basketball (college basketball) * NASCAR (stock car racing) * NHL (National Hockey League) * MLS (Major League Soccer) * WWE (professional wrestling) * AFL (Arena Football League) * WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association) * IRL (Indy Racing League) Some might challenge whether basketball is above baseball in the US. Baseball is "America's Pastime" and still holds a special place in many Americans' hearts. The popularity of college sports is often underestimated by people who don't follow these leagues. For an example of the size of their fan bases, here is the capacity of a few college football stadiums: * Tennessee's Neyland Stadium: 104,079 * Michigan's "Big House": 107,501 * Ohio Stadium, "The Horse Shoe": 101,568 * Penn State University's Beaver Stadium: 107,282 2004 attendance numbers for all 118 Division I-A schools was 30,270,687. That's just Division I-A college football, it does not include other divisions or other collegiate sports.
The previous post is very interesting. A more accurate analysis would say that baseball in the US is above NBA basketball. the importance of the World Series far pass the NBA finals, as event, tv ratings, etc. red sox win or ChiSox this year had far more impact that any NBA event. even in Jordan's city , analysts place sox win as 2nd most important sporting event after Bears Superbowl. And all recent surveys say MLB is favorite to NBA in this country. You should also check merchandising sales in the US for 2005 as I think MLB have again passed NBA.
To the replied post, you mentioned two specific World Series which had special "issues" for lack of a better word. With both teams they were traditional underdogs overcoming historical trend, which caused more people to tune in. Granted the NBA Finals do not pull in the same type of viewership as the Super Bowl, I believe you have to look at the bigger picture than just seeing what the last two World Series brought. Whose to say if a beloved NBA team finally had a great season and went all the way that they wouldn't have the type of impact as a Red Sox or ChiSox victory in the World Series... to the reply, sorry no. it's unrealistic... you're probably a die hard basketball fan. no NBA finals beat the worst WS TV ratings... when sports weekly covers only baseball and football it's because of something...
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