Surveys show sports-viewing habits by race

Most sports fans, if they can’t see games in person, still watch them on television, a new University of Massachusetts poll has confirmed, indicating that other media alternatives have not yet replaced the old boob tube.

The UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and the Washington Post polled 1,000 Americans in August and found that 86 percent, including 88 percent of 18-39-year-olds, prefer to watch live games on traditional television sets. People are using their phones, tablets and computers to watch games as well, especially young people (35 percent), and 51 percent uses these devices for score updates.

“Cord cutting” — getting rid of cable — is occurring as well: “People still like to watch sports…on television,” Lowell Center Co-Director Joshua Dyck confirmed in a recent MSR phone interview. “You don’t know if [fans] get rid of cable or go to the neighborhood [restaurant or sports bar] to watch the game, but the idea that people stop watching sports on TV doesn’t fly” based on the poll results, he said.

The professor added that fans today have more options when watching games on television. “The way people are consuming television…either you are DVRing [digital video recording] because you have cable, or you’re watching On Demand, or [using] different streaming service[s],” surmised Dyck.

Other poll results: Women (23 percent) admit they yell at the television while watching games more than men (15 percent). “Non-Whites (34 percent) are more likely than Whites (25 percent) to follow players on Facebook and Twitter,” said Dyck.

The poll was one of six surveys Dyck’s group conducted this summer, with these results:

  • Blacks like hockey (52 percent), wrestling (21 percent), college football (58 percent), pro basketball (71 percent), soccer (33 percent) and auto racing (27 percent) more than Whites.
  • Both Blacks (32 percent) and Whites (39 percent) name football as their favorite sport.
  • Blacks are more avid sports fans (22 percent), regular fans (29 percent), and casual fans (42 percent) than Whites. Blacks also are “big” football fans (35 percent) and “not so big” fans (35 percent) than Whites in the same two categories (32 percent and 29 percent respectively).
  • Blacks (54 percent) support the paying of college players, and Whites (54 percent) are against it. Latinos favor pro sports betting (65 percent) over Whites (53 percent) and Blacks (51 percent).

On watching sports on television, the UMass professor concluded, “People are moving toward cord-cutting, and we know young people are doing that [as well]. I think ultimately people don’t want to watch…tape-delayed sports but would rather see them live as broadcast.”


Globe-tracking the Lynx

Natasha Howard averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds in three games last week for her Chinese team (Zhejiang). Alexis Jones (Al-Qazeres) had a 33-point effort in a win. Temi Fagbenie (Great Britain) scored 16 points and grabbed eight boards in a two-point loss to Greece in the EuroBasket 2019 Qualifier.

This week, Renee Montgomery (France) plays on Thursday, and Howard, Fagbenie and Anna Cruz (Russia) all are scheduled to play for their respective clubs on Wednesday.


The entire UMass poll data and analysis are available at

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to