I think their definition of “Spectator Sport” might be a little different than what you’re thinking. With football, basketball, soccer, golf… you can have a pick-up game with the guys on the weekend, get involved yourself. Not so with NASCAR. It’s much harder to say to the guys “Hey, lets hop in the car and race around the track for awhile.” It’s more an investment than something John Q Public is going to get involved in. Therefore, NASCAR, the sport in the whole, is more of a spectator sport than football is as a whole.
Now, I know that the numbers are going up for NASCAR events (and I’m sorry I can’t cite… I’ve been looking but can’t seem to find the numbers that I need… this is just from 20+ years of watching the sport and talking to my Dad who runs his own NASCAR site and has been watching the sport pretty much since it’s inception) Whether the numbers are to the point of that of NFL events, I don’t know. But another thing to keep in mind is how you count those numbers. With the NFL, you have multiple teams playing multiple days of the week. With NASCAR, you have one race a week (well, two or three if you want to count the Busch and Craftsman Truck series’ in the mix) Do you could each person that goes to each NFL game in your total, or do you just take it on a game by game basis? There are a lot of factors to concider when figuring this out.
Whether NASCAR is more popular than the NFL… I dunno. But I know it’s fast gaining popularity (of which I am two minds… I have a problem with “bandwagon fans”, but it’s good to see my sport finally getting some recognition) and I don’t see it declining any time soon.
Just my 2 old pennies…