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In Poll of Favorite Sports, MMA Is Overlooked

The polling firm Harris Interactive regularly surveys Americans to find out their favorite sports, and the results of this year's poll are in. Check out the results and you'll see about what you'd expect: Pro football is clearly America's most popular sport, baseball is next, then college football, auto racing, basketball and hockey.

What you won't see anywhere is mixed martial arts.

The reason? MMA wasn't even one of the choices Harris Interactive gave to poll respondents.

Samantha Braverman, Senior Project Researcher at Harris Interactive, told me that respondents were asked to choose, from a list of 20 sports, which ones they follow. Then, if they followed at least one sport, they were asked to choose their favorite. Harris listed plenty of sports that aren't particularly popular in America -- horse racing, swimming, women's golf and so on -- but MMA wasn't listed as one of the 20.

So there are no numbers available regarding how many people consider MMA their favorite sport. For all the talk in recent years about the growth in popularity of MMA, I'm not aware of any hard polling data that tells us just how many Americans consider MMA their favorite sport, or the UFC their favorite sports league. For the people who would have chosen MMA as their favorite sport (if given the option), that serves as a reminder of how far off the radar screen MMA still is.

But Braverman said that while Harris tries to ask about the same sports every time they take this survey, they'd consider adding MMA to the poll in the future.

"This poll is trended for many years (the earliest survey was in the 70's, and then in the 80's I believe it changed once to separate out professional and college level basketball and football)," Braverman told me. "Consistency is important, but at some point we may consider adding to the list as other sports (MMA and UFC included) continue gaining in popularity."

MMA wouldn't approach football or baseball, and probably wouldn't even approach soccer or hockey, but the sport has grown enough that it's at least worth asking how many Americans consider it their favorite.

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