By Eric Mitchell
@EJMitchellKy on Twitter
Seeing the results of a recent ESPN SportsNation Fan poll was a kick because horse racing ranked among the top 10 sports. Not only did racing crack the top 10, it was ranked seventh, getting beat out by the NFL, college football, Major League Baseball, college basketball, the NBA, and the NHL. Incredibly, NASCAR ranked 15th on the list.
Granted, this was not a scientific poll. It was a fan poll. ESPN website visitors were asked to rank 20 sports by their most favorite. Points were then assigned to the rankings with 20 points going to the sport in first place, 19 points to second place, etc. From Aug. 31 through Sept. 22, 13,297 people completed the poll.
The most startling piece of data in this poll was not how high horse racing ranked against the other sports. The real eye-popper was the number of #1 rankings horse racing received—3,084. That’s 23% of the polls submitted and second only to the NFL, which ranked #1 in 3,749 polls submitted. College football got ranked in the top spot in 2,413 polls, and MLB was top-ranked in 1,277 polls.
The wheels start to wobble on the reality bus as you dig further into these #1 rankings. European soccer was ranked on top 414 times, while NASCAR was #1 in 57 polls. Hmmm...I am having a hard time believing there are more European soccer fans in the U.S. than NASCAR fans.
Let’s go back to the first point. This is not a scientific poll but it still provides some good news, even if horse racing fans stuffed the digital ballot box and NASCAR fans are too busy watching Kyle Busch chase the Sprint Cup championship title to take the time to complete online polls. I find it encouraging that 23% of SportsNation fans who did submit a poll picked horse racing as their favorite sport.