Tiger is Still America’s Favorite Sports Star

Despite his public image taking major hits this year, a poll says, there is one bright spot for Tiger Woods. While he is no longer alone on top of the list, he is at least tied for first place as America’s Favorite Sports Star.

Since 2006, this was a title he held solo, but this year, besides another NBA championship, Kobe Bryant can also share in being called America’s Favorite Sports Star, a jump up from the 4th position he was in last year.

Rounding out the top five are New York Yankee Derek Jeter at number 3, up from 5th place; Minnesota Viking Brett Favre at number 4, a leap from his 9th place position last year; and this season’s losing Super Bowl quarterback, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts at number 5, up from 7th place last year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,227 adults surveyed online between June 14 and 21, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Looking at the rest of the top ten, LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami and dropped three spots to number 6 on this year’s list while another NBA superstar—but one who no longer plays—Michael Jordan, drops from the 2nd spot on the list to number 7 this year.

New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, returns to the list after a one year absence at number 8 and the winning quarterback from this year’s Super Bowl, Drew Brees, debuts at number 9. Finally, a NASCAR superstar, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is at number 10, down from number 8 last year.

Two stars dropped off the top ten this year: another NASCAR legend, Jeff Gordon dropped from number 6 and baseball great, Albert Pujols dropped from number 10 last year.

Different groups have their different favorites. For men, Tiger is still number one, but for women it’s Kobe Bryant. There are also generational differences. Both Echo Boomers (those 18-33) and Baby Boomers (those 46-64) have Kobe Bryant as their number one while Gen Xers (those 34-45) say it is Brett Favre and Matures (those 65 and older) stick with Tiger.

Just like last year, Serena and Venus Williams are number one and number two on the Favorite Female Sports Star list, followed by race car driver Danica Patrick.

Perhaps thanks to the World Cup excitement, Mia Hamm moves up from number 5 to number 4 this year, followed by tennis star Maria Sharapova who moves to number 5 from a tie in 6th last year.

Next in the top ten is another tennis star, Anna Kournikova at number 6, up from 9th last year. Four newcomers or returning female stars round out the top ten: gold medal volleyball player Misty May, and gold medal winning gymnast and Dancing with the Stars champion,

Shawn Johnson, are tied for number 7; at number 9 is women’s basketball star Lisa Leslie; and tied for the 10th spot on the list are two former tennis greats, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratalova.

The four female sports stars who dropped off the list are basketball star, Candace Parker, who was number 4 last year; golfer, Annika Sorenstam, who was tied for number 6; former tennis star, Chris Everett who was number 8, and skater Michelle Kwan, who was number 10.

Sometimes a sports star is more noted for things they do outside of their sport, observes Harris Interactive. Tiger Woods was in the news more for his marital woes and infidelities and his losing tournaments this year, yet he is still at the top of the list, albeit in a tie.

Shawn Johnson was in the 2008 Olympics, but appearing on Dancing with the Stars helped bring her top-of-mind and spur her onto the list of favorite female stars this year.

Regardless, the list of one golfer, three basketball stars, one baseball player, four quarterbacks, and one race car driver represents some of the greatest in their respective sports.

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Rakesh Raman