Looking at Older Fans’ Spectator-Sports Preferences

Their own playing days may be finished, but that doesn’t stop people age 45 and over from retaining a rooting interest in sports. Polling conducted last month for the AARP Bulletin took a look at the sports preferences of this population group.

Though baseball typically fares better with old folks than with young ones, football was tops even among the poll’s 45-plusers. When they were asked to cite their “favorite spectator sport,” football led with 27 percent of the vote. Baseball was a distant runner-up, at 17 percent, with Nascar racing the only other sport to score in double digits (10 percent).

Football’s dominance carries over to the 45-plus cohort’s choice of favorite sporting event. The Super Bowl got the most votes (27 percent), with the Winter/Summer Olympics taking the silver medal (17 percent). Baseball’s World Series came in third (10 percent), followed by the NCAA basketball championship (6 percent), the Masters gold championship (5 percent) and NCAA football bowl games (5 percent).

The erstwhile “national pastime” had its best showing in the subgroup of respondents 65 and older, getting 24 percent of their votes. But baseball’s favorite-sport tally fell to 18 percent among the 55-64-year-olds and to 11 percent among the 45-54s.

Women were more than twice as likely as men (23 percent vs. 10 percent) to pick the Olympics as their favorite sporting event. Eleven percent of all respondents said they don’t have a favorite event, matching the number who don’t have a favorite sport.

Despite the stereotype of old duffers sitting around watching golf, that sport was picked as favorite by just 6 percent of the 45-plusers, leaving it a percentage point behind basketball. On the other hand, Tiger Woods led the widely scattered voting when respondents were asked to cite their “favorite living professional athlete.” And an above-average number of the poll’s 65-plusers (10 percent) picked the Masters golf championship as their favorite sports event.