A SURVEY conducted prior to the explosive golf war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf has golf as the sport that amasses the most positive news coverage.

Researchers at online ticket sales website livefootballtickets.com analysed 45,000 sports news articles over the past nine years (2013-2022) to find out which sporting codes received the best publicity.

Coming in top spot for the most positive sport is golf with 79.18% of news coverage being positive. 

Due to being a slow-paced sport, lacking any huge controversy, any negativity in the sport comes from the people associated with the game.

“The large amount of positive press coverage surrounding golf radiates positivity out into the wider culture and atmosphere around the sport,” said Jamie Boler from www.golfsupport.com.

“This has been seen by the great camaraderie and support shown between players. For example, after Tiger Woods was seriously injured in his car crash in 2021 other golfers wore his signature red and black in support and tribute to him. This positivity makes the game a great sport to play and watch and we ultimately believe that it lifts how fans feel.” 

Chartered sport and exercise psychologist Christian Ward-Pszyk said one of the main attributes golf brought into media attention was the focus on “prestige and presentability”.

“This is encapsulated in the coverage and display shown across the flagship competitions,” he said. “The image is drawn towards the exquisite presentation of the courses and the emotional camaraderie of fans and players alike, illustrating a clean, welcoming perspective that draws positive media coverage. 

“Within its key components, golf highlights the benefits of biophilia and low-impact exercise, while also generally providing low levels of direct competition as scoring is predominantly focused on a comparison with par, rather than one another and the direct competition, challenge and controversy that those aspects can bring.” 

Tiger Woods received positive support from his peers after his near-fatal car crash. Photo: Getty Images.

In second place is rugby league with 77.04% of news coverage being positive, which is 10.42% more positive than its close rival rugby union in fourth place. Rugby league is often seen as being the less physical of the two and therefore reflects less aggression and potentially more positivity into the media.

“Rugby league has been perceived to be a positive influence on individuals involved due to its structure and approach to talent development and academy processing,” Ward-Pszyk said.

“This has helped to represent rugby league as a positive factor in the youth sector, and has been largely able to transfer these skills and the underlying ethos into the professional and amateur ranks.” 

Football (soccer) came in third place with 71.05% of news coverage being positive.

“With the largest established fan-base and according media coverage, football has arguably the greatest level of exposure and following amongst these sports,” Ward-Pszyk added. 

“However, it can be estimated that the overall positive reporting was due to a set of factors, comprising of commercial support, perceived social engagement of players and clubs and the frequent coverage of national unity created through the international men’s and women’s teams at international tournaments.” 

AFL did not get a mention as this is a European survey. Of the nine sports explored by the survey, boxing received the least positive news with 54.67% of news coverage being positive.

This is due to the aggressive and tense nature of the sport, which is therefore reflected in headlines.

Percentage of positive and negative press coverage received per sport:

RankSportPositive %Negative %
1Golf79.18%20.82%
2Rugby League77.04%22.96%
3Football71.05%28.95%
4Rugby Union66.62%33.38%
5Cricket65.69%34.31%
6F165.56%34.44%
7NFL64.54%35.46%
8Tennis63.38%36.62%
9Boxing54.67%45.33%

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