What are the most popular sports in the U.S.?
For now, the answer remains the “big four” of football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, in that order, but look at Gen Z (ages 6-24) and a different picture emerges.
The youngest of the four demographic groups studied by analytics firm Two Circles has the most sports fans — 34 million — and preferences that stand out from its predecessors.
Football was still the most popular sport at 47.5% interest among Gen Z sports fans, edging out basketball at 44%.
The next two sports on the Gen Z list: soccer and boxing.
At 32.2% interest among sports fans aged 6 to 24, boxing surpassed baseball (30.8%) for fourth place.
The surge in interest in soccer comes at an opportune time for up-and-coming leagues like the National Women’s Soccer League, which has attracted investors such as Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, and Mia Hamm.
Data seen exclusively by Front Office Sports shows other key differences in the Gen Z profile.
- Gen-Z has broader sports interests than previous generations. Its 10th-favorite sport, esports, is more popular with Gen Z than every other generation’s fourth-favorite sport, hockey.
- Hockey is not among the top 10 most popular sports for Gen Z.
- MMA is the generation’s sixth-most popular sport, followed by three common high school sports: track and field, volleyball, and wrestling.
The youngest generation also prefers bite-sized sports consumption rather than sitting through lengthy contests, which may be why Facebook patented technology that generates game recaps.