February 1, 2010

Olympics Bridge Gender Divide In Sports Interest

The upcoming Winter Olympics will be a rare sporting event in at least one respect: As many women as men say they are especially looking forward to the winter games. By contrast, more men than women are anticipating another major event on the upcoming sports calendar, next Sunday’s Super Bowl.

A recent Pew Research Center survey, conducted Jan. 6-10 among 1,504 adults, found that 63% of women and 59% of men say they are especially looking forward to the Winter Olympics. A December 2007 survey found a similar absence of gender differences when it came to advance interest for the 2008 summer games in Beijing. At that time, 54% of women and 51% of men said they were particularly looking forward to the Olympics.

Men are more likely than women to say they are particularly looking forward to other sporting events. Two-thirds of men (67%) say they are especially looking forward to the Super Bowl, compared with just 50% of women. In 2007, 44% of men and 33% of women said they anticipated the World Series. And there is a 10-point gap in the proportions of men and women saying they are looking forward to the World Cup this year (28% of men vs. 18% of women).

While more women are looking forward to the coming Olympics than the Super Bowl, the gap is especially large among older women. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of women ages 50 and older say they are especially looking forward to the Winter Olympics, while just 44% say the same about the Super Bowl. Among women younger than age 50, 62% say they are looking forward to the winter games while 55% are looking forward to the Super Bowl. By comparison, higher percentages of men, irrespective of age, say they are especially looking forward to the Super Bowl than say that about the Winter Olympics.

In terms of the public’s anticipation of other coming events, more women than men say they are especially looking forward to the Academy Awards. Nearly four-in-ten women (37%) say they are especially looking forward to the annual movie awards; that compares with 25% of men. Slightly more men (53%) than women (47%) say they are especially looking forward to this year’s midterm elections. The partisan gap in advance interest in the elections is much larger than the gender gap: 60% of Republicans are looking ahead to the midterms compared with 48% of Democrats (See “Obama Image Unscathed by Terrorism Controversy,” Jan. 14, 2010)

Latinos Looking Forward to World Cup

Advance interest in this year’s major sporting events differs across race, ethnic and age groups. More whites say they are especially looking forward to the Winter Olympics (64%) than the Super Bowl (56%). This is largely because while nearly two-thirds (66%) of white women are anticipating the Winter Olympics, just 48% are anticipating the Super Bowl; among white men, the comparable figures are 61% and 66%, respectively.

Far more non-Hispanic African Americans are especially looking forward to the Super Bowl than the Winter Olympics (74% vs. 54%). Among Hispanics, 58% say they are especially looking forward to the Super Bowl while 54% say the same about the Winter Olympics.

Hispanics are far more interested in the upcoming World Cup than are either non-Hispanic whites or blacks. Fully 57% of Hispanics say they are especially looking forward to this summer’s quadrennial global soccer tournament, compared with 31% of non-Hispanic blacks and just 15% of non-Hispanic whites. There also are age differences in interest in the World Cup: roughly a third of those younger than age 30 (34%) are especially looking forward to the event compared with just 12% of those age 65 and older.

Cite this publication: Tom Rosentiel. “Olympics Bridge Gender Divide In Sports Interest.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (February 1, 2010) http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/02/01/olympics-bridge-gender-divide-in-sports-interest/, accessed on July 23, 2014.