SI's publisher's office recently commissioned a national poll on sports-related issues. The poll, whose results were to be announced this week, was conducted by Lieberman Research Inc. of New York City. More than 2,000 adults filled out and returned the 72-question survey—with enthusiasm, we might add.
"This was the fastest response rate we've ever received for a major survey," says Seymour Lieberman, the president of the polling firm.
"There was plenty of sports participation data out there," says Susan Alexander, SI's director of market research, whose idea the poll was. "But we wanted something more comprehensive. We wanted to ask questions that would reveal public concerns, goals, values, life-styles and fantasies."
Herewith some of the more intriguing revelations:
June 8, 1986
•In which sport are Americans most interested? Pro football led with 60%, a shade ahead of baseball (59%). Next came fishing (43%), followed by college football (42%) and bowling (35%).
•Pro football was considered not without its flaws. Some 32% of the respondents believe that it generates too much violence in the stands, and 62% cited it as the sport with the highest percentage of players using illegal drugs.
•A majority of those surveyed felt baseball, pro basketball and pro football players are overpaid (70%, 63% and 59%, respectively), but only 36% considered that to be the case in hockey. The vast majority believed owners of team sports turned a profit, and 58% deemed players and owners as responsible for escalating salaries.
•Legalized gambling on baseball, basketball and football was opposed by 41% and favored by 31%.
•More people (70%) believed professional athletes found to be using illicit drugs should be sent to a rehabilitation program than should be suspended for a season (42%). Random drug testing of professional athletes was supported by 73%.
•Americans spend an average of seven hours a week watching sports on TV. Seven of 10 of the respondents said that TV sports are overexposed.
•As to sports fantasies, men rated throwing the winning pass in the Super Bowl a slightly more appealing one (35%) than getting the game-winning hit in the final World Series game (32%). On the other hand, women would rather get the Series knock (37%) than the Super Bowl TD (24%).
•After 13 years of the designated hitter, the public remains split: 26% favor it, 24% oppose it and 50% have no opinion. Responses didn't vary based on proximity to American League teams, which use the DH.
•Two final findings: People were decidedly in favor of the use of the instant replay for officiating (76% to 14%) and having sports betting lines reported in the media (53% to 39%).