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Pro football losing fans fast

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Staff Writer | Tuesday October 17, 2017 10:29AM ET
Pro football
America   Contrary to every other sport

The percentage of U.S. adults who self-identify as professional football fans has fallen from 67% in December 2012, the last time Gallup asked the question, to 57% today.


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In contrast, every other sport measured in the October 10-11 survey, except for Olympic sports, did not change meaningfully from five years ago.

The decline in professional football comes amid ongoing controversy over player protests during the playing of the national anthem.

President Donald Trump criticized the protests earlier this year, which led to more widespread protest activity by National Football League players.

Athletes in other sports have protested during the national anthem, but not nearly to the degree professional football players have.

The anthem situation is the latest, but not the only, controversy that has dogged professional football.

In recent years, the NFL has come under fire for its handling of domestic violence cases involving players and its response to research on the effects of concussions on brain health among former players.

In three prior Gallup measurements that included professional football in a list of other sports, 63% (March 2001), 64% (December 2004) and 67% (December 2012) of U.S. adults said they were fans of the sport.

While professional football's fan base has declined, the percentage of Americans who say they are fans of college football is virtually unchanged from 54% in 2012 to 56% this year.

College and professional football are now essentially tied for having the second-largest fan base among the sports Gallup has tracked, behind Olympic sports.

At 63%, Olympic sports continue to claim the largest number of fans among U.S. adults even after the sharp decline in their fan base since 2012, perhaps because there was no Olympiad this year as there was five years ago.

 

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