Gallup poll: Soccer closes in on big three as most popular U.S. spectator sport

Just how hard no World Cup for the USA in 2018 will be is evident in the results of the new Gallup poll on U.S. spectator sports, the first since 2013.

Soccer's popularity has tripled in the last decade and ranks fourth among all sports, picked by 7 percent of U.S. adults as their favorite sport to watch, behind football at 37 percent, basketball at 11 percent and baseball at 9 percent in the poll conducted Dec. 4-11.

The 2 percent difference between soccer and baseball is the closest the fourth-place sport is to one of the big three in the last 20 years of polling and just the second time a fourth-place sport polled as high as 7 percent. (Auto racing was at 7 percent in 1997.)

As recently as a decade ago, soccer interest was steady at 2 percent, but it has climbed steadily in the last decade. For the first time in 2013, soccer was fourth, ahead of ice hockey. It has extended its edge over ice hockey to 3 percent.

Soccer's rising popularity is reflected in its appeal among younger Americans:

-- Soccer ranks tied for second among all spectator sports among 18 to 34 years old, tied with basketball at 11 percent, ahead of baseball at 6 percent.

-- Soccer ranks third among all spectator sports among 35 to 54 years old, at 10 percent, ahead of baseball at 7 percent.

In all the subgroups, soccer ranked highest among "liberals" with 13 percent interest and lowest at 1 percent among 55 years old and older.

5 comments about "Gallup poll: Soccer closes in on big three as most popular U.S. spectator sport".
  1. Randy Vogt, January 9, 2018 at 9:08 a.m.

    I've believed for a long time that hockey is not as popular a spectator sport as soccer and that baseball was on the decline and this poll confirms that. When I grew up in the 1960's, baseball was king but football slowly took over.

  2. Scott Hunt, January 9, 2018 at 11:28 a.m.

    One potential flaw with this survey. The timing. It was conducted the week of December 4-11, 2017. This was the week of MLS Final where media attention is greatest on MLS. Not sure how you control for this but there definietly exisits possibility that soccer numbers are influenced by timing of survey.

  3. Mark Buckley replied, January 9, 2018 at 1:05 p.m.

    I guess the "possibility exists" but I am 58 years old, and I never remember any more coverage of soccer in the main stream sports media based on any MLS news or event. Since the birth of MLS there is barely any coverage of the "MLS Cup" from the mainstream media. Unless this is a poll of soccer fans, and I don't see where it says the sample was soccer fans, then media coverage of that week means nothing. Now if it was taken in June 2018 during the WORLD CUP, then there might be a problem, but since it's not, the poll seems ok to me.  

  4. Bob Ashpole, January 9, 2018 at 4:35 p.m.

    The topic is entertainment, not sport.

  5. Dick Burns, January 9, 2018 at 7:41 p.m.

    At 81, I am old time soccer fan and I enjoy watching soccer with its continous action more than any other sport.  I still watch other sports but become very tired with the continous commercials and interruptions.  As far as bias in the pole, that will be a problem at almost any time you do the poling depending on the time of year, i.e., World Series, Final 4, NBA Finals, Super Bowl, etc.  

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