Dueling surveys. Cue the music.
Alex Waldrop of the NTRA has posted about racings appeal and some hard-numbers from their survey done in 2009.
"...found that about 50.6 million adults in the U.S. qualify as Thoroughbred racing fans and that about 5.6 million adults say they attend a racetrack or an OTB or log onto an online wagering site and “bet a few times a month.” Some of you have questioned these numbers."
Some people have been questioning those results. The NTRA's numbers (I am NOT a poller) look more than fine to my uneducated eye. The group that did the survey seems very good and very reliable. I don't have the expertise, nor would I ever try and discount the results without even seeing the questions etc.
But reading the article there does appear to be a bit of a disconnect.
"Twenty million annual visits puts horse racing as the #2 spectator sport in America behind only one other U.S. major league sport, MLB, and ahead of the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and NASCAR. "
There is also a reference that 30M people can at times watch the Derby or Belmont with a TC in the balance. I have no reason to believe that is not true, but if we are visited as a sport so much, and we conclude so many people "like" us so much, how can those sports we beat in attendance and viewing charge (and get) billions for TV revenue, and the Breeders Cup, Hambo, race of the week etc, have to pay the networks to show our sport?
Dan Needham at Thorotrends tweeted today to Alex:
thorotrends Dan Needham
@AlexWaldrop @viczast If numbers don't lie, little has changed since 1974, a year after Secretariat.
He linked a piece he wrote (Dan is a professional surveyor, so while my opine means little, his sure doesn't) on a Pew Research survey that looks more in line with what we see.
"In 1974, a year removed from Secretariat's enthralling campaign, the Harris Sports Survey asked a national representative sample of sports fans to indicate which sports they follow. One in five (20%) sports fans claimed to follow horse racing. Horse racing was chosen as overall favorite sport by 3% of sports fans" [this 3% is similar to the 2009 survey]
But in 2006 Pew found the following:
"Therefore I had to dig into the data to find the result to compare our Secretariat-era estimate of 3%. The good news is that horse racing was in fact volunteered as a favorite sport by some. The bad news is the percentage -- 0.13% of all adults and 0% of sports fans considered horse racing to be their favorite sport to watch. What is startling is that "rodeo/bull riding" was actually mentioned by 0.5% of respondents. Suddenly that 3% estimate from 1974 in the wake of Secretariat looms as an impressively large number."
Numbers don't lie, that is true. But I wonder, which survey makes more sense to you?