March Madness in Minneapolis Makes Many Hoops Fans Merry

by Mark Gillespie

NCAA Championship one of the events sports fans want most to see in person

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Two weeks ago, 65 teams had a dream. Now, the dreamers are down to just four -- the Final Four. This weekend's NCAA men's basketball championship in Minneapolis is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year, and millions will be watching as Duke, Arizona, Maryland and Michigan State square off for bragging rights in the world of men's college basketball.

A new Gallup poll conducted March 26-28 finds nearly half of Americans (47%) consider themselves college basketball fans. While that percentage is smaller than the fan base for pro football (63%), pro baseball (56%), college football (53%) and figure skating (50%), it is larger than the fan base for pro basketball, auto racing, golf, hockey and tennis.

In addition, the Final Four is one of the three major sporting events sports fans would most like to see in person. A January Gallup poll found that 13% of sports fans picked the Final Four when asked about the major sporting event to which they would most like to get a ticket. This puts the NCAA men's championship behind only the Super Bowl (40%) and the World Series (18%) as events fans would most want to attend.

Americans Oppose Pay for College Athletes
Observers say one of the reasons for the intense interest in college athletics is the amateur status of the athletes. Instead of playing for pay, college athletes play for the pride of their schools and enjoyment of the sport. However, some believe college athletes should be paid, because college sports generate tremendous amounts of revenue for the schools. Several proposals for paying college athletes have been advanced in the past, but the American public is strongly opposed to the idea. A Gallup poll conducted March 9-11 finds three out of four Americans would oppose paying athletes anything in addition to the scholarships most of them currently receive, while only 21% would favor this. In addition, 77% would be opposed to possible athlete protests that involve a boycott of the NCAA basketball tournament to draw attention to the issue of paying college athletes.

Survey Methods

The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,024 adults, 18 years and older, conducted March 26-28, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For each of the following, please say whether you are a fan of that sport or not. First -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

 

2001 Mar 26-28
(sorted by "total fans")

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

Total fans

%

%

%

Professional football

54

9

63

Professional baseball

46

10

56

College football

44

9

53

Figure skating

40

10

50

College basketball

38

9

47

Professional basketball

36

8

44

Auto racing

31

8

39

Professional golf

27

9

36

Professional ice hockey

24

7

31

Professional tennis

19

9

28

Professional wrestling

12

3

15

(vol.) Volunteered response



SPORTS FAN TRENDS

A. Professional baseball

 

 



Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)



No, not a fan



No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

         

2001 Mar 26-28

46

10

44

*

         

2000 May 5-7

35

11

54

--

2000 Apr 28-30

40

12

48

--

2000 Mar 30-Apr 2

45

10

45

--

1999 Nov 18-21

45

16

39

--

1999 Oct 21-24

37

10

53

--

1999 Jul 13-14

40

19

41

--

1999 Mar 19-21

34

15

51

--

1998 Oct 9-12

47

14

39

--

1998 Sep 14-15

45

18

37

--

1998 Jun 22-23

34

10

56

--

1996 Mar 15-17

38

10

52

--

1995 Oct 5-7

34

8

58

--

1995 Jul 7-9

35

13

52

--

1995 May 11-14

35

10

55

--

1995 Apr 17-19

32

9

59

--

1995 Feb 24-26

37

12

51

--

1995 Jan 16-18

37

8

55

--

1994 Oct 17-19

39

9

52

--

1994 Sep 6-7

35

11

54

--

1994 Aug 15-16

39

10

51

--

1994 Aug 8-9

35

20

45

--

1993 May 21-23

39

10

51

--

1993 Feb 12-14

44

7

49

--



B. Professional football

 

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

No, not a fan

No opinion

%

%

%

%

2001 Mar 26-28

54

9

37

*

2001 Mar 9-11

48

14

38

*

2001 Jan 15-16

44

14

42

*

2000 Aug 24-27

42

12

46

*

1999 Mar 5-7

47

9

44

0

1999 Jan 22-24

51

10

39

*

1998 Jan 16-18

45

11

43

1



C. Professional basketball

 

 



Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)



No, not a fan



No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

         

2001 Mar 26-28

36

8

55

1

         

2000 Mar 30-Apr 2

38

8

54

--

1999 Jan 15-17

31

11

58

--

1999 Jan 6

29

12

59

--

1998 Oct 9-12

36

10

54

--

1994 Mar 11-13

32

11

57

--



D. Professional ice hockey

 

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

No, not a fan



No opinion

2001 Mar 26-28

24%

7

69

*



E. College football^

 

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

No, not a fan

No opinion

%

%

%

%

2001 Mar 26-28

44

9

46

1

2000 Nov 13-15

41

6

53

*

2000 Aug 24-27

32

10

58

*

1999 Oct 21-24

36

10

54

*

^ Asked Jan 6-8, 1994: "Are you a college football fan, or not?" Yes = 48%; No = 52%

† Asked Dec 4-6, 1993: "Are you a college football fan, or not?" Yes = 43%; No = 57%



F. College basketball

 

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

No, not a fan



No opinion

2001 Mar 26-28

38%

9

52

1



G. Professional golf

 



Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)



No, not a fan



No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

         

2001 Mar 26-28

27

9

64

*

         

2001 Feb 9-11

26

5

69

*

2000 Mar 30-Apr 2

26

8

66

*



H. Professional tennis

 

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

No, not a fan



No opinion

2001 Mar 26-28

19%

9

71

1



I. Auto racing

 

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

No, not a fan



No opinion

2001 Mar 26-28

31%

8

61

*



J. Figure skating

 

Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)

No, not a fan



No opinion

2001 Mar 26-28

40%

10

50

*



K. Professional wrestling

 



Yes, a fan

SOMEWHAT
OF A FAN (vol.)



No, not a fan



No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

         

2001 Mar 26-28

12

3

85

*

         

1999 Aug 16-18 ^

12

6

82

*

         

^

WORDING: Now thinking about World Championship Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation and other professional wrestling that you may see on TV, are you a fan of professional wrestling, or not?



(vol.) Volunteered response
* Less than 0.5%

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