Public image is what separates the truly A-list athletes from their peers off the field and the courts, and can be the difference between ending up with Charles Barkley money and Michael Jordan money. That is to say, popularity begats endorsements, endorsements begat more endorsements, which lead to more popularity, which leads to more cash. While that’s not the end all be all of athletic prowess, its certainly true that fame leads to fortune which leads to more fame.
As such, keeping a pulse on which athletes are the most recognizable amidst the general public can be an interesting and eye opening experience, particularly when you’re embroiled enough in the sports world that you’ve perhaps lost touch with what the lay person thinks about, say, the elevated cornerback play in the NFL or the number of defensive shifts happening in baseball. So, when Harris Interactive reported the findings of a new poll to find the most popular athletes in the country, we keyed in.
That said, this is a poll of just over two thousand people, and in a country that numbers over 300 million, it’s probably best to take these results with a grain of salt. On the other hand, Harris maintains that this is a representative poll, and we can’t say we’re all that surprised at most of these results.