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SGMA Identifies Today’s American Sports Fan

Date: 3/8/12

SILVER SPRING, MD – March 8, 2012 – Sports in America are often as much about the fans in the stands as they are the players on the field, court, gridiron, pitch, or diamond.  Those fans watching games and sporting events at home on TV, listening to the radio, and tuning in on-line are also part of the American sports experience. 

The results of a recent study -- Sports Fandom in America -- by SGMA Research/Sports Marketing Surveys of 21 major sports leagues (amateur and professional) revealed various levels of popularity of each sport.  The 21 sports were college basketball, college baseball, college football, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, international soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, NASCAR, NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, PGA Tour, LPGA, UFC, WWE, professional boxing, and X Games.

“After analyzing the data, it’s clear that today’s sports and athletic events appeal to a wide range of men and women who are young, middle-aged, and older who represent all age groups and all income producing categories,” said Keith Storey of Sports Marketing Surveys.  “As is always the case in any survey, some categories are more appealing to fans than others.”

The demographic categories covered in this study are gender, age, household income,

Listed below are some of the significant findings of the study on Sports Fandom in America:

Observation: The top five most popular events for fans to watch are the Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics, NFL, college football, and Major League Baseball.
Conclusion:  Traditional/mainstream events have the highest appeal to the widest possible audience.
Observation: The sport which attracted the biggest gain in spectator interest from 2009 to 2010 was international soccer.
Conclusion:  The boost given to soccer by the World Cup in 2010 is clearly evident.
Observation: The two events which attract the highest percentage of female fans/viewers are the Winter Olympics (49.6%) and the Summer Olympics (49.0%).
Conclusion: The appeal of the Olympics continues to draw all family members to the TV set. 

Observation: The highest percentage of fans for 17 sports come from the 45-54 year-old group.  Only MLS, international soccer, WWE, and XGames draw its highest percentage of fans from another age group – in each case, 25-34 year olds.
Conclusion:  Spectators in soccer, WWE, and XGames are a reflection of the young participant base in each case. 

Observation: The highest percentage of fans in each sport category come from household incomes of $100,000 or more with the exception of NASCAR, WWE, and the WNBA which attract their largest percentage of fans from the $25,000-$49,999 annual household income category.
Conclusion:  NASCAR, WWE, and the WNBA attract their second largest percentage of fans from the $100,000 or more annual household income category. 

Observation:  Without exception, the highest percentage of fans in all 21 sports/categories lives in population centers with at least two million people.
Conclusion:  A large number of these high-profile teams and special events are held in large population centers, which makes them easy to attend for nearby residents.

Observation: The majority of fans and spectators in all 21 sports/categories have either attended college or graduated from college.
Conclusion:  Sports fans, for the most part, are well educated.

Observation:  Of the nine population regions in the country, five of them attract a double-digit percentage of participants in all 21 sports/categories.
Conclusion:  Authentic, passionate, committed sports fans live in all parts of the U.S.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by promoting favorable public policies, fostering participation through research, thought leadership, and product promotion. More information about SGMA membership, SGMA public policy platform, and SGMA’s National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.sgma.com.

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