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Baseball is still number two, but here comes college football

Jan 7, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

College football

One of the reasons today is such a slow news day baseball-wise is because the sporting world is focused on tonight’s Alabama-Notre Dame game. It’s a focus that mirrors the increasing popularity of college football. Which, some say, may soon overtake baseball as the nation’s second most popular sport.

Baseball still has more viewers — 48% of adults watched an MLB game as opposed to 39% watching college football — but college football is gaining ground:

Other research indicates the Grand Old Game is still No. 2. But the power and pageantry of college football is grabbing younger consumers. Numbers are trending in the direction of college football.┬áIn the latest Harris Poll, 16% of adults cited baseball as their favorite sport, compared to 11% for college football. Baseball’s actually up three points from last year, when the two sports were tied at 13% while college football dropped two points. But since Harris started tracking America’s favorite sports in 1985, college football has gained 1%, while baseball has gone down 7%.

You know my take on this. Who cares? Bud Light sells more than Stone IPA and Justin Bieber sells more than Neil Young and yet I still like what I like, you like what you like and so to shall it always be with sports.

But it is interesting to see the surge of college football, especially given the public hits it has taken in recent years, what with scandals and greater reporting of its excesses and its corruption. Fans don’t care. They like the product and, our different tastes and the hand-wringing of some aside, there is no reason why they shouldn’t.

  1. steveflack - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Man, with all that success and money coming in, this players must be rich!

    Oh, wait.

    • American of African Descent - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      I always thought that the former “student-athletes” should raise a bigger stink. For example, Reggie Bush was asked to give back his Heisman trophy a few years ago after it came to light that he accepted gifts while in college. Bush could have held a press conference, explained to the world that the student-athletes who play football and (men’s) basketball make a metric butt-ton (yes, that’s a technical term) of money for their school, but that the student-athlete doesn’t see a dime of that money. Bush could have spoken about how scholarships often don’t cover the true cost of attending school, how many student-athletes don’t get the education they need to be competitive after graduation, how student athletes cannot capitalize on their own name while in college, and the many other issues concerning the economic injustice of the NCAA’s rules.

      Mr. Bush then could have handed over his Heisman to the NCAA, and let the NCAA field questions about why it sodomizes football and (men’s) basketball players. Such a press conference wouldn’t have cost Bush any money, and it would have put the NCAA in a bit of an uncomfortable spot. (At the very least, the NCAA would have had to answer how any compensation Bush received affected the integrity of the game.)

      If enough former NCAA stars started talking about how the NCAA screwed them, it might change the national conversation, sort of like how Curt Flood’s unsuccessful law suit changed the national conversation about free agency in baseball.

    • Roger Moore - Jan 7, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      I’m sure, though, that with no player salaries to pay, colleges must give their tickets away.

  2. amhendrick - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    So the latest poll shows baseball up 3 points, CFB down 2 points, while CFB is up a total of 1 point over the lat 27 years. And that proves . . . a surge for CFB?

    • mrfloydpink - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      The author used to work for the Romney campaign.

    • cebig - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      28 years….

  3. hojo20 - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Baseball & College Football…..sports that run 30-45 minutes too long.

  4. cur68 - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Until Nate Silver confirms this it is but smoke and mirrors.

  5. heyzeus143 - Jan 7, 2013 at 1:45 PM


    • El Bravo - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM


      • umrguy42 - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        You’re talking about playoffs?!

  6. El Bravo - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    I still don’t get why college football is so popular.

    – signed division III grad

    • historiophiliac - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      I don’t get why pro football is popular.

      • El Bravo - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:46 PM

        I like pro football quite a bit. I just never got the idea of loving college sports. Unless you’re rooting for your alma mater, it seems pointless to be a fan of a sport of unpaid amateurs. The ONLY reason they are so popular, outside the alumnus, is b/c people bet on pro and college sports alike. That is a lame reason for the sport to be so popular if you ask me. But this is coming from a dude he loathes horse racing, so what do I know?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        I kinda like the school rivalries (although that can get annoying). Really, I feel like if you are going to do that to your body, you should do it for girls and beer (being young and dumb). I don’t understand killing yourself young for money, but ok.

      • El Bravo - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:09 PM

        I do everything for the girls and…well not beer…but close enough. Young n dumb 4 life.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        Glad I could be the source of amusement for you and Willie.
        That is what I am here for.

  7. iranuke - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Let me get this straight. NFL football is the most popular sport, followed by Major League Baseball, followed by minor league football, followed by all other sports. Right.

  8. husky2score - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    I don’t really like college football. Most games are blowouts anyway.

  9. saints97 - Jan 7, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    If you like baseball and football, which it would seem most sports fans do, then who really cares. I watch it all, and I am fan of it all.

    Except the NBA. That is for suckers.

  10. sportsdrenched - Jan 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Baseball (all levels above HS) is my favorite. However, College Football is right up there in my book.

    To me there is no better time of year on the sports calender than Labor Day through the end of the World Series.

  11. brewcrewfan54 - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    I love college football and MLB. It’s no surprise though that the percentages of people who have seen a CFB game has gone up while MLB games has stayed the same or gone down. Its a lot easier to avoid watching a baseball game during the week than it is to avoid a college football game on Saturday in the fall.

  12. lanflfan - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    For me, being a baseball fan, and a Dodger fan, came first. When I was young, I was watching Dodger games with my grandfather, listening to Vin Scully. Football was the annoying sport that took away my cartoons every so often. But in high school I played football and enjoyed it. I love watching football, pro and college, on nearly an equal level as baseball but I can assure you in no universe do I watch any sport for the “pageantry”.

  13. stlouis1baseball - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    1) Major League Baseball
    2) College Basketball
    3) College Football
    4) NFL
    5) College Baseball
    6) College Wrestling
    7) High School Wrestling
    8) High School Basketball
    9) High School Football
    10) High School Baseball
    11) High School Volleyball
    12) High School Track and Field
    13) High School Swimming and Diving
    14) USA Track and Field
    15) USA Gymnastics
    35) NBA

    • stlouis1baseball - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      Wow…please forgive the cheesy little icon. It goes against everything I believe in.
      It was supposed to be…
      8) High School Basketball.
      However, I somehow got the cheesy little icon.
      Got a new computer. It must be “cheesey little icon” friendly.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 7, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        It did it again! Help!
        We are going to try this again.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        You gotta’ be kidding me!
        What the hell is the deal with the number eight?
        Computer guru’s…please advise.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:35 PM

        Ha ha! I’m laughing at you, Woodpecker — not with you. lol

      • mrwillie - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:52 PM

        Thanks for the solid laugh there StL.

        Also good to see someone else who has college basketball so high. It’d have to put it as a tie with baseball. Don’t hate me for it folks, we can’t help it here on tobacco road.

        I disagree with NBA as 35 though. I’d have to put a game of Roshambo with a donkey as 35, then NBA at 36.

    • philliesblow - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:06 PM

      46) Jenga
      47) Pro hockey

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        My bad Phillies. Point taken. Let me amend my list.
        46) Jenga
        47) Pro Hockey
        49) NBA

      • historiophiliac - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:41 PM

        Why do I have the feeling you left out roller derby?

  14. sometimesimisscandlestick - Jan 7, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    I notice with glee that soccer is not on the list – well lumped in with all other sports at 2%.

  15. brianabbe - Jan 7, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    1. MLB 2a. College Football 2b. College basketball.

    You know the best part about these three sports? All of them have minimal overlap with one another, which means I can follow all three with little issue. Considering that baseball has minimal overlap from April through August (Even your average football fan doesn’t care about preseason), I don’t think they care too much. I highly doubt the tradition of taking the family to a ballgame or three each summer is suddenly going to stop. Every sport has its niche either way.

  16. southpaw77 - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    College football would gain since the hits are now harder in college than the NFL, now they flag, fine and suspend for vicious hits and college does not.

    College football loses since it has no BCS or any big games in snow, mud, and cold. This is where the NFL still rules.
    Until we see SEC or Pac-12 schools go up and play in winter elements such as snow its still catered to the south and west teams and thats why baseball stays number 2. You actually have to go into the other teams building.
    College football will never see Alabama go up to Ohio State in January and beat them in the snow. Never happen.

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