American sports fans have been opening their minds and wallets to a host of diverse sports, including figure skating, gymnastics, men's golf, high school sports and pro boxing, according to a new study from Scarborough Sports Marketing focusing on “Avid Fans”…


Avid fans of these sports are often characterized by distinct audience demographics.

For instance, 73 percent of Avid Gymnastics Fans are female and 81 percent of Avid Figure Skating Fans are female.  This is a unique demographic makeup since Avid Fans of sports like the Olympics, Women's Tennis and the WNBA – classically “female friendly” sports – are only about 50 percent female. This notable demographic base helps explain findings such as: Gymnastics Fans are 53 percent more likely than all American adults to schedule a spa day, 30 percent more likely to visit a jewelry store and 33 percent more likely to visit a bridal store.

Similarly, Figure Skating Fans are 28 percent more likely to visit a florist and 27 percent more likely to visit a dry cleaner.

Another demographically interesting sport is Pro Boxing. Though European Soccer, Major League Soccer and Mexican Soccer are all leagues with large Hispanic fan bases, Pro Boxing is the non-soccer sports league with the highest percentage of Hispanics among its Avid Fans – 35 percent. Avid Pro Boxing Fans are also 58 percent more likely than all American adults to use their smartphones to: listen to or download music, 67 percent more likely to check sports scores and updates, and a staggering 110 percent more likely to watch free TV programs.

Looking at competitive Motor Sports, Formula One Racing attracts the highest percentage of Avid Fans with $100K in annual household income, more than any of the eight Motor Sports measured. Overall, Formula One Racing Fans are 7 percent more likely than other motor sports Fans to own homes with $500K+ market values, yet Formula One Racing Fans are also 25 percent more likely to hold blue collar jobs. 

American consumers also continue to show unwavering support for the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, College Football and Basketball, NASCAR and the Olympics. The study finds that over half (53 percent) of American adults are “Avid Fans” of one of these sports. When we eliminate these time-honored sports from the conversation, we are left with an intriguing list of fan favorites which include *

Scarborough Sports Marketing defines “Avid Fans” as consumers who are “very interested” and “Fans” as respondents who are “very, somewhat or a little interested” in a given sport.

“Looking beyond the obvious can represent new possibilities for advertisers, marketers and other sponsors to reach targeted or key demographic groups,” said Bill Nielsen, vice president, Scarborough Sports Marketing. “The major sports, of course, allow marketers to reach the masses, but if you only focus there you are missing an important opportunity to market to the 37 percent of Americans who are very interested in sports that fall outside of the usual suspects.”

Scarborough Sports Marketing measures avidity levels for 41 different sports, and the table below summarizes the percentage of American adults who are “Fans” of each. Highlighted in blue are the sports that are consistently high ranking. Interviews were conducted between March and August 2011 and therefore may be influenced by seasonality.  

Scarborough Sports Marketing Fan Rankings for American Adults, Age 18+

Sports Leagues

Total % (Very, Somewhat or A Little Interested)

National Football League




Major League Baseball


College Football


National Basketball Association




Figure Skating


College Basketball


High School Sports


PGA Tour (men's golf)




National Hockey League


Horse Racing


College Baseball


Extreme/Action Sports


Pro Boxing


Women's Tennis


Men's Tennis


Major League Soccer


Ultimate Fighting Championship


Pro Bull Riding


Minor League Baseball


IndyCar Series


Pro Rodeo


NHRA Drag Racing


About The Author

Thomas J. Ryan

Thomas J. Ryan Senior Business Editor | SGB Media | 917.375.4699



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