In a new study recently conducted by Green Market Report in conjunction with Consumer Research Around Cannabis and their partner Local Sports Insights (LSI), the sports preferences of cannabis consumers around the country resulted in a win for the NFL and football overall.
Professional football beat out other sports by far with 55.1 percent of interviewees saying they regularly follow the NFL. It defeated professional baseball (MLB), which 36.2 percent of consumers confirmed watching, pro-basketball (NBA), which was chosen by 36.1 percent of consumers, and pro-hockey which raked in 27.8 percent of the vote.
According to the study, the most popular college sport among consumers was also football, which 31.6 percent of consumers watch, followed by college basketball, which 25.7 percent are fans.
“The NFL has been the most successful professional sports league over the past couple of decades – supplanting Major League Baseball. In many ways the league’s success mirrors our nation when it comes to income, age, and education,” said Vice President of Consumer Research Around Cannabis, Jeffrey Stein.
Some of the cannabis consumer averages were on par with national averages, according to a recent Gallup study. Gallup found 57 percent of the population to be professional football fans found that very close to the Green Economics average for cannabis users of 55.1 percent. The national average was also close for professional basketball (40 percent) and ice hockey (28 percent), but the rest had significant differences.
“I was surprised that football was number one,” said Co-Founder and CEO of the Green Market Report as well as recognized cannabis influencer, Debra Borchardt. “I really thought basketball would’ve been number one since it’s a sport followed by more young people and is growing in popularity, while ratings have been falling for football.”
According to Local Sports Insights, 26.4 percent of adults over 18 follow professional basketball. And 36.1 percent of cannabis users follow the NBA. So, technically LSI found that NBA popularity is indeed 37 percent higher among cannabis users than the average person.
The numbers shouldn’t be that surprising considering how much legal cannabis delivery sales increase before the Super Bowl. In 2016, Eaze reported there was a 47.5 percent increase in cannabis deliveries in California from 2-3PM, the hour before kick-off. When the Denver Broncos were in the Super Bowl in 2016, Sally Vanderveer, President of Denver’s largest dispensary, Medicine Man, told Forbes: “We saw a 30-40% uptick in sales from Thursday to Sunday [before the Super bowl]”. Interestingly, Local Sports Insights found 50.5% of Broncos fans have used marijuana in the past year.
What may be surprising is the profile of NFL fans who also consume cannabis. Green Economics found the average age is 37 with a median household income of $60,387. In addition, 33.2 percent of NFL fans are college graduates and 13.5 percent are business owners.
Local Sports Insights found that 48 percent of all surveyed women follow professional football. There were more men than women who follow the NFL that use cannabis: 65.5 percent were men and 34.5 percent were women.
This research not only kills the stereotype that “stoners” don’t like sports, but shows how Americans are choosing to relax in states where cannabis is legal. Considering the popularity of alcohol during sporting events, cannabis could be a safer alternative and help prevent drunk driving, domestic abuse, and hangovers associated with NFL games.
The NFL still doesn’t allow its players to consume cannabis, although many activists are fighting to change that, like former lineman for the Chicago Bears, Eben Britton.
“Cannabis can help NFL players on multiple levels,” said Britton. “First and foremost our federal government owns a patent on cannabinoids ‘as neuroprotectants and antioxidants’… cannabis should be at the top of the NFL’s list of substances to help combat concussions and CTE. The second way cannabis could directly benefit NFL players is as an alternative to opiates. In most cases, I believe pro football players would rather consume cannabis than opiates. Cannabis may also be used in conjunction with opiates to help mitigate negative side-effects and ease withdrawal symptoms.”
Using cannabis as an alternative to opioids for pain is becoming a popular idea. Plus, many believe cannabis can help opioid addicts wean off the powerful substance in the midst of an epidemic in the U.S.
“This study was encouraging because the most vocal advocates for allowing cannabis as an alternative to deadly pain medications are professional football players,” said Cynthia Salarizadeh, Co-Founder of the Green Market Report. “The NFL helps provide an appropriate platform for their fight with their massive visibility. Hopefully their owners will listen and allow their players the right to choose what medication they use for their pain management.”
The NFL is worth $9 billion annually, but they could still benefit from allowing cannabis brands to sponsor teams and events. Not to mention, the benefits the plant can have for its players. Considering cannabis’ popularity spreading into more mainstream communities, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cannabis commercial during the SuperBowl this year.