NEW YORK – Better than 6 in 10 Americans (62 percent) think pro athletes and sports officials gamble on professional sporting events, according to the latest FOX News poll. Just over one-fifth of the national sample (21 percent) believes no such betting takes place, with the remainder undecided.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
The survey also found that a majority of Americans (57 percent) do not consider professional athletes to be positive role models for their children. In fact, only about 4 in 10 (38 percent) see pro athletes as people kids can look up to.
Interestingly, intense media scrutiny is seen as more to blame for the upsurge in these incidents, rather than any actual increase in the number of "jocks behaving badly."
And, more than two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say all the recent sports-related scandals have had no impact on their overall interest in sports.
Three particular cases have dominated news coverage over the last few months — NBA referee Tim Donaghy admitted to wagering on games he officiated; NFL quarterback Michael Vick admitted to illegal dogfighting charges; and MLB home run king Barry Bonds is suspected by many to have used banned performance-enhancing drugs.
When asked to choose which of these scandals has done more to harm its sport, almost 4 in 10 chose the Vick case (38 percent), with about one-quarter each picking the other two.
In a slightly different vein, Americans choose football as their favorite spectator sport by a comfortable margin over baseball (36 percent to 13 percent) — with all other sports trailing far behind in single-digits.
When it comes to which sports they like to participate in, baseball edges out football (10 percent vs. 8 percent, respectively). Golf and basketball finish a close third on the participation list (7 percent each), followed by tennis (5 percent), swimming (5 percent) and volleyball (4 percent).