The Harris Poll: NFL continues 47-year run as America’s most popular sport

Tops Next 3 Pro Sports Combined

Largest Increase of Any Sport over Past Decade

The NFL has been recognized as America’s most popular sport for the past 47 years, rated No. 1 by fans in The Harris Poll since 1965. In addition, more people named professional football (34 percent) as their favorite sport than the combined total of the next three professional sports – baseball (16), auto racing (eight) and men’s pro basketball (seven).

The number of fans choosing the NFL as their favorite sport has risen seven percent over the past 10 years (27 percent in 2002) – the largest increase of any sport over that span.

Pro football moved ahead of baseball as the fans’ favorite for the first time in 1965.  Following are the five most popular sports according The Harris Poll:


Percent of Fans Citing as Favorite

Pro Football




College Football


Auto Racing


Men’s Pro Basketball


Source: The Harris Poll, January 2013 (poll taken Dec. 2012)

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