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There’s Nothing More American Than Apple Pie and . . . Football and Soccer?
Joanna Piacenza,
Topics: Sports


‘Cause it’s one, two, three strikes and baseball is out! Out of trend, that is, according to a recent New York Times article, which claims that baseball is no longer America’s favorite pastime. National viewership is declining, even as cable packages and online streaming services expand.

Take the World Series, which is in full swing this week between two wild card teams – the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals, Opening game of the championship, once a major event, this year lost viewers to popular television shows like “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

Replacing baseball, football is now the sport winning our hearts, despite recent controversies in the N.F.L.:

Above all, perhaps, is the rise of the N.F.L. in the era of 24-hour sports television, and the growing popularity of football fantasy leagues and video games.

Indeed, PRRI’s annual sports poll indicates that only nine percent of Americans say baseball is their favorite sport, while 39 percent said football. In fact, when asked if football has replaced baseball as America’s national sport, a majority (55 percent) of Americans said yes while over one-third (36 percent) said no.

But there may be a new competitor on the block, as the NYT article notes. Last summer’s World Cup match between the United States and Portugal attracted 25 million viewers, about double that of the World Series opener. As PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox pointed out earlier this year in the Huffington Post, the two demographic groups most passionate about soccer are Hispanics and young adults (ages 18 to 29).

What’s more, Cox continues, “demographers expect the Hispanic population to triple by 2050 making up roughly one-third of the population,” which would bolster soccer’s growing fan base. And while football remains the most popular sport among young adults, soccer, at 32 percent, is the runner-up.

“If baseball is America’s past and football is its present, then soccer may be its future,” says Cox.