Despite a current negative spotlight on football with reports from former players suffering from memory failure, depression, loss of impulse control, and other signs of diminished mental capacity, football, both college and professional, remains very popular in the United States.

In the Center’s study of sports fan behavior and media use, which surveyed Americans aged 15 to 74 who follow at least one sport in season, professional football was the most popular sport, with 76% of respondents saying they followed it (college football was popular too, with 44% saying they follow it, which put it as the third most popular sport, tied with NBA basketball).

But let’s focus here on professional football.  Who is more likely to be a fan of professional football?  How do gender, race/ethnicity, age, education, and region of the country affect this interest?


Males are more likely than females to be fans. Eighty-three percent of males versus only 71% of females said that they were followers.


Whites (79%) and African-Americans (77%) are somewhat more likely than Latinos (73%) and Asians (70%) to follow NFL football.


Those aged 65-74 (81%) and 35-54 (81%) are somewhat more likely than those aged 25-34 (75%), 55-64 (75%), 18-24 (73%), and younger than 18 (70%) to be fans.


College graduates (80%) and those with some college or an associate’s degree (78%) are slightly more likely than high school graduates (77%) and those with post-graduate degrees (76%) to follow the sport.


And those living in the Midwest (79%) and the Northeast (78%) are slightly more likely than those in the West (77%) and the South (76%) to be NFL fans.


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February 27, 2019