The NHL is often referred to as the No. 4 league when it comes to ranking the popularity of North American professional team sports. But in the latest Harris Poll, hockey comes in at No. 6 when a survey asked Americans what their favorite sport was. Pro football, namely the NFL, finished first for the 30th year in a row with 35 percent of the popular vote. Baseball was second at 14 percent, college football third at 11 percent, auto racing fourth at seven percent, pro basketball fifth at six percent, then hockey sixth at five percent. Hey, at least they didn’t refer to it as ice hockey.
Hockey has actual climbed the rankings the past few decades. Back in 1985, pro football was 24 percent, baseball 23 percent, then college football and college basketball 10 percent each. Hockey was tied in 11th at two percent, also behind pro basketball, auto racing, golf, tennis, bowling and horse racing. Pro football has been climbing since then, mostly at the expense of baseball and college basketball. Hockey has never received more than five percent of the popular vote and has been at least four percent since 2004.
Harris Interactive is a market research firm based in Rochester, N.Y. It accepted votes online Dec. 11-17, 2013 from 2,311 people 18-and-older living in the United States.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN