Reality for Guerrero's Consideration: College Football Outpacing College Basketball for Fans

I was skimming through the interwebs and and came across some interesting numbers in the Sports Business Daily (drawn from a Harris poll) on the "favorite sports" among "U.S. Fans". Not surprisingly, college football finished high in the poll, coming in as the 3rd favorite sport behind only the NFL and MLB. Surprisingly, mens' college basketball fell to a lowly 8th, behind the likes of auto racing (NASCAR, seriously?!), hockey, and mens' soccer.

Don't get me wrong, I consider myself a die-hard United supporter (Liverpool sucks, BTW), but to find out that college basketball ranks behind soccer in the United States was a bit of a shock, given our country's general apathy toward the "original football" during non-World Cup years.

Maybe that's because as a UCLA Bruin, I've been fortunate to support the greatest, most-storied basketball program in college athletics.  Maybe those of us who went to school in Westwood, Chapel Hill, or Durham are going to be a bit biased.  But still, 8th?!  Behind NASCAR and soccer?!

More after the jump (with numbers, tables, and a bit of analysis thrown in).

That said, the numbers don't lie.  Take a look at how much UCLA fans on BN care about football: the traffic at this community during football season and during the months of recruiting and coaching changes/intrigue speaks for itself. The rate the comment threads have been filling up in various football coaching search threads tells us part of the story as well.

Don't get me wrong: UCLA basketball is a special institution.  It's Coach's program.  Coach is not only the greatest coach in any sport, but one of the greatest people to live.  What he built here is nothing short of amazing and should be admired by all.

But, while UCLA prides itself on Coach and our basketball tradition, in today's era, it's UCLA football that is just as important, if not more so, to our fan base.  The Bruins have been a very rough 12 year stretch but there is also a football tradition we are proud of and we do not appreciate some of the comments we sometimes see here taking shots at our program. Appreciating our past tradition and maintaining a vision around our football program has been an integral part of the narrative at this community since its launch 5+ years ago.

The numbers from the Sports Business Daily underscores the importance of how crucial it is for Morgan Center to make a total commitment to football. If they think that they can get away just by focusing on basketball, they are in for a rude awakening. The immense popularity of college football compared to hoops is factor the Morgan Center ought to keep in mind when making strategic financial decisions, in terms of both the short-term and the long-term impact. Here are the numbers again from the Sports Business Daily:

 

FAVORITE SPORTS AMONG U.S. FANS

SPORT

'10

'09

'08

'98

'85

% CHANGE
('85-10)

Pro football

31%

35%

31%

26%

24%

7%

Baseball

17%

16%

16%

18%

23%

-6%

College football

12%

12%

12%

9%

10%

2%

Auto racing

7%

9%

8%

7%

5%

2%

Men's pro basketball

6%

5%

6%

13%

6%

0%

Hockey

5%

4%

5%

3%

2%

3%

Men's soccer

4%

2%

3%

4%

3%

1%

Men's college basketball

4%

3%

5%

4%

6%

-2%

Men's golf

2%

4%

4%

4%

3%

-1%

Track & field

2%

1%

1%

3%

2%

0%

Bowling

2%

1%

1%

2%

3%

-1%

Men's tennis

2%

1%

1%

4%

5%

-3%

Boxing

1%

2%

2%

N/A

N/A

N/A

Horse racing

1%

2%

1%

2%

4%

-3%

Women's tennis

1%

1%

1%

N/A

N/A

N/A

Swimming

1%

1%

2%

N/A

N/A

N/A

Women's pro basketball

0%

*

*

*

N/A

N/A

Women's soccer

*

*

*

N/A

N/A

N/A

Women's college basketball

0%

*

*

1%

N/A

N/A

Women's golf

*

*

*

N/A

N/A

N/A

Not sure

3%

2%

1%

1%

*

N/A

NOTES: * = Result was less than 0.5%. N/A = sport was not among answers during that year's question.

 

In other words, football is the economic engine that drives the rest of the Athletic Department.  If football thrives, it enhances every other sport.  It brings in more revenue, more national attention to the university, etc.  And no, you don't have to commit to football in the dirty, SEC, under-the-table cheatin' kind of way: look at Texas or Michigan for examples of institutions with stellar academic institutions that are also committed to excellence on the field/court (and yes, I know it's been a rough stretch for Michigan too, but still, it's Michigan football we're talking about).

You hear that Dan?  It's time for you to get with it and commit Morgan Center to football.  Or sit by and watch UCLA get left in the dust.

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