A recent Gallup Poll caused some concern among baseball fans. The survey of American sports fans found baseball rank had fallen below basketball when it came to their favorite sport to watch.

Also, the survey found soccer has almost caught baseball in popularity.

Lower Baseball Rank

The survey, released in January, found football still ranks first in popularity among all sports. The numbers broke down as follows. The number represents the percentage of respondents who voted for each sport as their favorite.

  • Football, 37%
  • Basketball, 11%
  • Baseball, 9%
  • Soccer, 7%

That 9% figure is the lowest baseball rank since Gallup first started asking this question in 1937.

Is this survey an accurate reflection of how American sports fans really feel?

Breaking It Down

Baseball ranked as the most favorite sport among Americans in 1948 and 1960. They’ve trailed football since 1972.

However, the drop to 9% below basketball and almost even with soccer came as a bit of a surprise.

There are issues to note, however. The first is that the terms themselves are a bit deceiving. If someone is asked about baseball, they most likely think of teams in Major League Baseball. Other forms of baseball – the minors, college baseball – have very little presence on television.

Football, on the other hand, includes both the National Football League and college football, two of the most prominent sports on television. Basketball includes both the National Basketball Association and college basketball. The latter is highlighted each year in the popular March Madness college basketball tournament.

Other Surveys

Other polls more accurately rank fans’ interest by league. For example, polls from ESPN actually provide a much more granular breakdown of the popularity of individual sports leagues. Their latest poll, which covers 2016, found the NFL ranked as the most popular sport, followed by MLB, college football, the NBA and international soccer.

A 2017 survey from Scarborough also found the MLB ranked second behind the NFL, followed by the NBA, NASCAR, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer.

And there’s this poll, which found MLB is the most popular league in the country. That conclusion was based on the percentage of respondents who had an “unfavorable” view of each sport. The NFL, mired in a controversy about players protesting police violence during the National Anthem, had high unfavorable ratings.

For those who really want to get down to the details, the 538 blog a few years ago looked at individual team popularity based on Google searches. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox came out on top.

Bottom line: Certainly, baseball is not America’s favorite sport and hasn’t been for a long time. But with more than 72 million tickets sold to games in 2017, it’s far from disappearing from the American sports landscape.