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Poll: Auto racing more popular in America than NBA and NHL

Jan 26, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT

Ryan Briscoe AP

Back when NASCAR was white-hot in the early to mid 2000s, there was plenty of talk about the stock car series having supplanted the National Hockey League (which, it must be noted, suffered a lockout in 2004-05) as the fourth major sport in America.

Since that point, NASCAR’s popularity has cooled off while the NHL has come around nicely after yet another stoppage in 2012-13. But a new Harris Poll has revealed that “auto racing” – not just NASCAR specifically, but auto racing in general – is not only more popular in the U.S. than the NHL, but the National Basketball Association as well.

In no surprise whatsoever, the poll (which was first reported on by ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell) found that the National Football League was the most popular sport in America among adults 18 years old and up. The NFL took 30 percent of the vote, followed by Major League Baseball with 14 percent, and NCAA college football with 11 percent.

Auto racing’s advantage over the NBA and NHL isn’t big, it must be said. Auto racing grabbed seven percent of the vote for the fourth position, while the NBA garnered six percent and the NHL, five percent.

The seven percent figure for auto racing is also down from the eight percent that the sport got in last year’s Harris Poll on the same subject.

One could interpret that as some sort of justification for the recent tinkering in NASCAR, which now has a new knockout qualifying format and could overhaul its Chase post-season and points system very soon.

According to Rovell’s report, the poll also notes – perhaps in an unflattering light in the eyes of some – that “those with a high school education or less tend to gravitate to auto racing.”

I’ll just say that there are many highly educated fans within the sport as well, and leave it at that.

  1. testover6370 - Jan 26, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    I think if anything this shows the fallibility of polling. I’ll believe auto racing is more popular than the NHL, but NBA? No. My guess is the key was that it asked for favorite sport. There are many racing fans who don’t like other sports, but a basketball fan will more likely like other stick and ball sports.

  2. markdartj - Jan 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    I sure hope COMCAST reads this. They need to get off their butts and let us get FOX SPORTS 2. I have never come up against a more obtuse organization than COMCAST.

  3. miserynmossouri - Jan 27, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    This really means nothing. I’d be interested in seeing the revenue numbers by sport. The most glaring part of this poll is that it’s yet another sign that college football players should be paid. It they are that popular only second to the NFL in popularity then it’s time to start paying the players.

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