Watching sports is a favorite pastime for many Americans, and in the past decades, the social aspect of it has become more important than the game itself for many.
Whether it would be a competition between school teams or a major sports event such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl – people love to watch sports together.

A new survey shows that most people in the U.S. gather with family and friends to watch sports and, at the same time, socialize and eat good food.

An online poll conducted by SportingPedia asked 2,897 fans how and why they watched sports, and some of the answers were quite surprising. For instance, the majority of sports fans say they usually watch their favorite games at home, eating chicken wings, chips and dip, and tacos.

Beer and soda come up as the most preferred drinks, on the other hand, while very few combine watching sports with drinking stronger spirits. Moreover, the most common reason for attending a sports game-related party is to simply socialize rather than watch the game itself.


The team at SportingPedia surveyed 2,897 people from October 18 to October 20 this year, asking a total of five questions. The poll was conducted online, with respondents selecting their gender, age group, and ethnicity. According to their answers, they were divided into the following groups:

  • 2,152 men and 745 women
  • 685 people ages 18-29, 1,851 people ages 30-55, and 361 people aged 56 or older
  • 902 white, 777 black, 747 Hispanic, and 471 Asian

For some of the questions, respondents were able to choose more than one answer.

Chicken Wings Named the Most Preferred Snack for Sports Fans

Food is an important part of every sports game-related party, and for U.S. adults, the most preferred type of snack is chicken wings, with nearly 22.5 percent of respondents choosing this option.

Three answers were available for this question, and the other most common one was chips and dip, which was selected by roughly 19.6 percent of the people.

The third most popular snack was tacos (12.9%), followed by pizza (12.4%), mozzarella sticks (8.5%), and chicken bites (7.1%).

Photo: Sportingpedia

Looking at the demographics, there are not many huge differences in people’s preferences when it comes to the types of snacks. Chicken wings topped the list for men (22.1%), while this option was even more popular among women – 28.1 percent of their answers were about chicken wings. This was a favorite choice for nearly 27 percent of black respondents and 23.2 percent of white people. One notable exception is the top choice of Asian and Hispanic people – it’s chips and dip for 22.3 percent of those identifying as Asian and 19.3 percent of Hispanics.

Interestingly, younger respondents, aged 18-29, picked tacos as their most preferred snack during a sports event – 20 percent of their answers were tacos, while another 18.9 percent were chicken wings, and 13.9 percent were chips. The top picks for the second age group (30-55 years old) were chicken wings (23.1%), chips and dip (25.5%), and pizza (11.1%). For those aged 56 years and older, the three most preferred options were chicken wings (21.1%), followed by pizza (17.2%), and chicken bites (12.8%).

Most People Drink Soda or Beer when Watching Sports

When asked about their preferred drink when watching sports, most people seem to prefer drinking soda to beer.

Only one answer could be chosen here, and the top responses were soda (42%) and beer (35%), followed by iced tea (12%), wine (6%), and whiskey (5%).

Photo: Sportingpedia

For men, beer (42%) tops the list, followed by soda (35%), while it is the exact opposite for women – the majority of them, or 63%, opted for soda, while only 14% chose beer. White respondents picked beer (41%) as their preferred drink when watching a sports event, while it was soda for black (50%) and Hispanic (48%) adults.

Older respondents, those in the age group 56+, had quite different answers to this question – beer (44%) was their top choice, followed by soda (27%) and whiskey (16%).

Most People Prefer Watching Big Sports Events at Home with Family & Friends

Big sports events such as the Super Bowl, the NBA finals, or the baseball World Series attract millions in front of T.V.s, and often, fans gather to watch their favorite club or athlete or the national team together.

When asked how do they watch big sports events, nearly half of all respondents, or 1,364 people, said they preferred family gatherings with their parents, siblings, and children.

Another 947, or nearly 33 percent, said they usually attended the so-called potluck parties where everyone brings food and drinks to share with their friends.

Roughly 10 percent of respondents said they preferred watching the game with other devoted sports fans and were not really interested in the food, drinks, or anything else besides what they were watching. Another 7 percent of people said they attended tailgate parties, while only 3 percent bought tickets and actually attended the game at the stadium.

Photo: Sportingpedia

Super Bowl Is the Most Popular Sports Event

There is nothing more important to a sports fan than the final competition of the season, where two or more of the best teams go head to head to decide who the champion will be. And the particular event varies largely across the globe. In this poll, respondents had to pick the most significant sports event; for most of them, this was the final of the NFL playoffs, better known as the Super Bowl. A little over 40 percent picked Super Bowl, while another 22 percent chose the NBA finals.

Note that for this question, respondents were able to pick only one option out of ten, which is why some events, even though quite popular by themselves, were chosen by less than 2 percent of people. The third most popular event was the Kentucky Derby (9.6%), followed very closely by the New York Marathon (9.2%).

The rest of the options were as follows – the Olympic Games (7.4%), Daytona 500 (4.2%), MLB World Series (2.9%), NCAA Final Four (1.9%), U.S. Open (1.3%), and Stanley Cup Finals (1.1%).

Photo: Sportingpedia

The Social Aspect of Watching the Super Bowl Beats the Game Itself

Interestingly, more people admit to attending a Super Bowl party in order to socialize than to watch the game itself. To the question “Why would you attend a Super Bowl party? What are your reasons?” respondents could pick one out of five different answers. The most commonly selected option was “to socialize” – 1,129 people, or nearly 39 percent, gave this answer. A total of 775 people (27%) said their reason was to watch the actual game, while 685 people (24%) said they would attend such a gathering mainly for food. Roughly 7.4 percent watch the event mainly for the halftime show, and another 3.2 percent say they do so for the interesting and funny commercials.

Socializing was the main reason for more than half of all women, or roughly 55 percent, versus only 34 percent of men. Also, watching the game was the second most common answer among men – around 30 percent of them gather for the game itself, while only 19 percent of women share the same reason.

Respondents aged 56 years and older admit their main reason for attending a Super Bowl party is the food – 37 percent of them watch the game for delicious snacks rather than for being with family and friends (36%) or for the competition itself (20%).

Photo: Sportingpedia

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