A new survey conducted by Public Policy Polling reveals that professional football remains the most popular professional sport, with 56% of respondents calling themselves fans of the NFL. Baseball (46%), basketball (37%), and golf (23%) followed.
The Golden State Warriors emerged as the most popular choice to win the NBA title (19%) followed by the Chicago Bulls (17%), and then the Cleveland Cavaliers (15%), the team that just eliminated the Bulls. The Warriors’ Stephen Curry edged out LeBron James as the most popular NBA star, 19% to 18%. James, likely because of his superior name recognition, easily outdistanced Curry when fans were asked whether they had a favorable reaction to him, 65% to 47%. More than four in ten fans weren’t sure how to vote in Curry’s case.
Michael Jordan’s legendary status was confirmed by the poll. When asked who was the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan or James, His Airness received 77% of the vote, with James miles behind at 14%. Jordan’s power was reflected by a question asking who would win a hypothetical one-on-one match between the 52-year-old Jordan and the 30-year-old James; James got 54% of the vote, while the middle-aged former Bulls superstar still received 34% of the vote.
Fans chose the Chicago Blackhawks as their favorite team to win the Stanley Cup (21%) followed by the New York Rangers (17%).
Baseball fans tended toward a traditional perspective, preferring to let pitchers bat for themselves rather than use a designated hitter, 55% to 33%.
Fans clearly preferred Manny Pacquiao to Floyd Mayweather, although neither was particularly well-liked. Pacquiao received a 30% favorable rating while Mayweather tanked at 17%. The recent fight between the two simply didn’t interest most, with 68% of fans saying they didn’t care who won.
Phil Mickelson was voted the most popular golfer by far (35%) followed by Tiger Woods (16%) and Rory McIlroy (15%), although McIlroy was voted the best golfer by a whopping margin (38%) over Woods and Justin Spieth (15%). Mickelson’s favorability rating was gigantic at 87%. McIlroy and Spieth followed closely behind at 75% and 71% respectively, while a bare majority (51%) liked Woods.
Two-thirds of blacks and 43% of Democrats considered themselves NBA fans; only 29% of whites and 26% of Republicans agreed. More than a quarter of Republicans said they were golf fans; only 10% of blacks liked the sport.