Well, it certainly inspired the most incredulity as to why people were still arguing about it. The lesson, as always: Never underestimate the popularity of the NFL.
It’s hard to know what is more remarkable — that DeflateGate became such a dominant story line, or that the saga isn’t even over yet. The NFL is currently appealing a federal judge’s decision in September to overturn Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in a scheme to deflate footballs before January’s AFC championship game, and that decision, by yet another federal court, won’t be made until March.
So there’s still a chance that Brady will be compelled to serve his suspension, which, given that he has steadfastly maintained his innocence, could conceivably prompt the 38-year-old Patriots quarterback to retire. In other words, there’s a chance that DeflateGate could also become the sports story with the biggest impact in 2016.
The poll was conducted between Dec. 1 and 7 to by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and it consisted of asking 1,517 adults, via telephone, four questions about sports. Each was multiple-choice, so on the question of the story with the biggest impact, respondents had a choice between: DeflateGate; the resignation of Sepp Blatter amid the FIFA corruption scandal; the Missouri football team’s protest of campus racism; the growing concern over the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry; and an option to answer “unsure.”
DeflateGate was far from the landslide choice, but it led the way at 30%, with the FIFA and Missouri stories each getting the support of 27%. The group that most picked DeflateGate, at 37%, was one identified as having a household income of less than $50,000, while the groups identified as “College graduate” and “Latino” opted for it the least, at 23%.
Another question asked about “the best single sports accomplishment of the year,” offering these options: the U.S. women’s national team defeating Japan to win the World Cup; American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown; the Royals winning their first World Series since 1985; the Patriots wining their fourth Super Bowl since 2002; the Warriors beating the Cavaliers for the NBA title; and “unsure.”
The USWNT’s World Cup win easily took that category, getting 33% of the vote, followed by American Pharoah (21%), the Royals (17%), the Patriots (14%) and the Warriors (13%). The group most strongly in favor of the USWNT was one identified as “Latino,” at 42%; that group was also most in favor, at 46%, of the FIFA scandal having had the greatest impact.
There was also a question about which player “had the biggest impact” on his or her sport, and Steph Curry and Brady led the way, at 27% each, followed by Serena Williams (19%), Jordan Spieth (12%) and Carli Lloyd (9%). The greatest show of support for any of the athletes was provided by a group identified as “Age 18 to 29,” who gave Curry 43% of their votes.
The fourth question simply asked, “Do you consider yourself to be a sports fan, or not?” The group that most said “Yes” was identified as “African American,” at 75%, followed by “Men,” at 68%. The group that said “No” most often was “Women,” at 53%.