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Tigers rule in Michigan?

2/29/2012, 8:16 p.m.
Last week I railed about polls that I never get to vote on. Here is yet another poll that speaks ...

Last week I railed about polls that I never get to vote on. Here is yet another poll that speaks to race and gender. A Raleigh, North Carolina based Public Policy Polling did a survey of Michigan voters that list the favorite pro sports teams in Michigan.

Somewhat surprising to me was the fact Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers finished ahead of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. The poll also surveyed surrounding various college sports teams.

No one can deny that football has fashioned itself as America’s pastime, with the confluence of youth, high school, college and professional football all merging.

But I tend to think that in Michigan the Lions have been bad for so long that many just cannot tell the world they still love them. On the other hand the Tigers in recent years have competed for division titles, as well as making it to a World Series. Conversely the Lions have never been to the NFL title game (Super Bowl).

I thought that maybe the Red Wings, who are on the winning streak of a lifetime and after the Lions finally made it to the NFL Playoffs these two franchises would rank as the most popular in Michigan, but oh no – evidently no sports team in Michigan can overcome the love affair between the Tigers and its sports fans.

I’m not sure of the exact date of the poll or if it happened after the Prince Fielder’s signing or before. To some degree that would shed even more light on the poll results.

The fact of the matter is the results from Public Policy Poling show the Tigers got 29 percent of the vote, the Lions got 27 percent, the Wings got 20 percent, and the Pistons, 6 percent.

I am not surprised that the Pistons have fallen so far from grace. Just a few years ago the Pistons could brag to the NBA that they had six consecutive years of sellout crowds.

What this poll tells me is that tall African-American men will not be supported if they do not win. Sure attendance was down when both the Tigers and Lions were losing, but down to 6 percent? No way!

The poll also showed there’s a significant racial divide in which voters picked as their favorite teams. Among White voters the Tigers win easily with 33 percent to 24 percent for the Lions, 22 percent for the Red Wings, and just 3 percent for the Pistons. But among Black voters the Tigers take up the basement at 5 percent, trailing the Lions at 54 percent, Pistons at 23 percent, and even the Red Wings at 8 percent.

The poll is yet another sign that baseball has a lot of work to do to acquire interest from African Americans. It’s also notable in this highly political season that Republicans picked the Tigers over the Lions 36-27, while Democrats pick the Lions over the Tigers 32-24.

I’m not sure what to make of that result. I always thought that Republicans were more aggressive, but baseball is a docile sport. Now you tell me the tree hugging Democrats like the violent game that is the NFL?

Now here is a stat that took this Michigan State alum by surprise. The poll noted that 37 percent of voters in the state say they are Michigan fans to 31 percent who side with Michigan State and 32 percent who don’t care either way. There is somewhat of an ideological divide on this question. “Very liberal” Michiganders pick the Wolverines 55-26, while “very conservative” ones pick the Spartans 37-30. White voters are pretty evenly split, going for Michigan 34-32, but 53-22 support from Black voters pushes the Maize and Blue’s lead out to 6 points.

Now UM has the upper crust persona, yet African American chose to support overwhelmingly the Wolverines. Now the fact of the matter is most urban African American are hanging at the poverty line. So I can only conclude that most dream, hope and look at the possibilities even though they have no chance to support their dreams.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII.