Poll: Most Americans planning to watch 2012 Olympics

We've got the fever.

It’s official: The U.S. of A has the fever — Olympic fever, that is.

According to a newly released poll conducted by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, the majority of Americans will be watching at least some of the upcoming games in London.

80 percent of adults plan to tune into the Olympics, including 19 percent who said they will be watching a great deal of the events and competitions and 23 percent who said they will follow a good amount of the games. Only 20 percent of Americans said they have no plans to follow the Olympics.

Older Americans (60 and older) are the most interested in this year’s Olympics, with 84 percent saying they will tune in. 80 percent of people age 45 to 59 will be watching.  While the majority of people under 30, at 74 percent, do plan to watch the Olympics, they are the least interested age group of fans.

Americans are also adopting a competitive edge with 50 percent saying they’re more looking forward to seeing how many medals U.S. athletes can win, while 43 percent are just interested in seeing world records broken, regardless of the country responsible.

“When it comes to nationalism versus records, nationalism still wins,” Dr. Keith Strudler of Marist College said. “But records are more important to many Olympic viewers. That’s why both are stressed during Olympic coverage by U.S. media, and you’ll see select superstar athletes from other countries on top of the normal American fare.”

Olympic fans also weighed in on who they believe American’s biggest competition will be in London. According to 41 percent of Americans, China will be the Team USA’s largest threat this summer. 15 percent said it will likely be Russian athletes.

When it comes to the star athletes who will be capturing attention during the Olympics, 50 percent said swimmer Michael Phelps is still the biggest male standout, 17 percent said basketball player LeBron James and 8 percent said Jamaican track star Usain Bolt. Only 5 percent of Americans said swimmer Ryan Lochte, who has been the center of media buzz when favored to beat Phelps.

When it comes to women athletes, the majority of people — 43 percent — said Serena Williams will be the star this summer. Soccer player Hope Solo snagged 11 percent of the vote and the much-talked-about track athlete Lolo Jones was favored by 9 percent.

Gymnastics proved to be the most popular Olympics sport with 30 percent of viewers saying they will watch it the most. Swimming is the second favorite with 23 percent of people and track & field is third-ranked with 18 percent of the vote.

Finally, when it comes to how viewers will watch the games, TV is still king, with 61 percent of people saying they will only experience the games through television. 31 percent of people said they might watch both television and online, but only 3 percent said they will view the games exclusively online.


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