December 15, 2011

Packers Champions of Champions

The Green Bay Packers win again. Only this time for the undefeated NFL franchise, it’s off the field. According to a Marist Poll done in conjunction with the Marist College Center for Sports Communication, American sports fans chose the Packers Super Bowl victory as the best sporting championship of 2011, selected by 36% of survey participants. The St. Louis Cardinals World Series title finished second with 30%, followed by the Dallas Mavericks NBA title with 15%. The NHL and US Open golf titles finished far behind.

At the heart of this poll, it’s fairly obvious that football and the NFL reign supreme in this country. Even if the championship isn’t the most spectacular, the popularity of the game drives these numbers, and it reminds us of the holiday-like status that the Super Bowl enjoys in this country. On the flip side of these numbers, the lack of support for the Boston Bruins winning the NHL Championship (8%) speaks to the fact that hockey remains a distant fourth team sport in this country.

A breakdown of these numbers reveal gives even greater insight into the NHL’s status. While the Bruins’ win did get 21% of the vote in the Northeast, it only received 1% in the Midwest, where admittedly the Packers and the Cardinals would get far more attention. But hockey didn’t break single digits in any other region, with only 4% in the south, a necessary growth area for the health of the sport. If the NHL is hoping to be known as a national sport that can sell expensive national television contracts, the league still has a lot of work to do.

Finally, there is a bit of a generation gap when it comes to baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series. Only 24% of the Millennials (18-30) chose this as the best championship, opposed to 34% of Baby Boomers (47-65). This could be telling for MLB, as they continue to lose their young fan base to more up-tempo leagues such as the NFL and NBA. This could be a reminder that this younger generation (at least the oldest of them) was raised on a player strike in the 90’s, then the steroid era that ensued. So perhaps this has left Millennials a bit cynical towards America’s pastime. Certainly, there could also be something to the relative pace of baseball versus football and basketball, and even the perceived youth and vitality of the game. It does seem MLB has begun to focus on the Millennial audience by installing an innovative social media campaign through their MLB Fan Cave.

For more analysis, visit the Center’s YouTube Channel for video commentary of the results. For complete results and methods, visit the Marist Poll.

About the Poll: Marist Poll National Adults: Interviews conducted November 8th through 10th, 2011, N=1026 MOE +/- 3%. National Sports Fans: N=624 MOE +/- 4%. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.