"53% say football is their favorite sport to follow. Baseball comes in a distant second with 16% support, while basketball is the favorite of 11%. Six percent of Americans prefer hockey, with no other sport including soccer, auto racing, golf and tennis reaching five percent."
That's a 29 point leap for football and a seven point drop for baseball since a Harris survey in 1985.
As I put it in Sam Smith's Great Political Repair Manual (Norton 1997):
Baseball is among the most democratic of sports. Each player is given great freedom and specific turf to guard, but this individuality only works when all the members of a team cooperate. Baseball, Eugene McCarthy has pointed out, is unique in that the game is not restricted by either time or space -- games theoretically can go on forever as can an out-of-the-park homer. He also notes that while in other sports you might hear fan suggestions that the ref be fired, it is baseball in which the crowds cry, Kill the umpire! Thus the game, like America itself, celebrates not only a deep distrust of authority and a lack of limits, but also cooperation, individuality, and community.For a look on the dark side, some thoughts on football