Football surpasses baseball as America's national pastime, survey says


“America’s pastime” is no longer the sport played on a diamond, but rather a gridiron. 

A Pew Research Center survey found Americans believe football, not baseball, is “America’s sport,” and the margin is very wide. 

The survey saw 12,000 adults asked, “If you had to chose one sport as being ‘America’s sport,’ even if you don’t personally follow it, which sport would it be?” 

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Oct 7, 2023; London, United Kingdom; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the NFL Experience London at the Battersea Power Station. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

This question, found in a broader survey about sports fandom throughout the United States, saw 53% of Americans believe football was America’s sport. Baseball came next on the list at 27%. 

The rest of list consisted of basketball (8%), soccer (3%), auto racing (3%), hockey (1%) and “something else” (2%). 

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The “something else” section was the Pew Research Center allowing the surveyors to write another sport if need be. Golf, boxing, rodeo and more were written. 

Furthermore, on football, the survey found that it crushed in every major demographic in the country, whether it was men and women, older and younger adults, and ethnicities like White, Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans. 

Baseballs

A detail shot of the MLB logo on batting practice balls before the game against the Peoria Javelinas and the Mesa Solar Sox at Sloan Park on Saturday, September 21, 2019 in Mesa, Arizona. (Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

However, while the survey said football is the national sport, it didn’t mean the NFL was top of mind for the 12,000 Americans. 

The survey found that 62% of U.S. adults say they did not follow pro or college sports closely, if at all. It also found that 63% of those adults talk sports with others “just a few times a month or less often.”

NFL footballs in Detroit

Wilson brand footballs are pictured with the NFL logo before the game between the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field on December 04, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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Only 7% of the adults considered themselves “superfans” of sports, which categorizes as those who talk sports with others often and follow the most popular leagues. 



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