The Popularity of a Sport and How it Affects the Influence of an Athlete
The more popular a sport, the more influence the athletes have, the more popular the sport becomes
Social Media Followings of Various Professional Sports Leagues
Basketball (NBA) actually has a much larger following than any other of the represented leagues. This is somewhat contradictory to the idea that football (NFL) is the most popular sport in America.
*Followers on Twitter for Pro-Leagues of the sport as of March 1, 2017
The NFL accounts for the largest amount of sports revenue generated from merchandise sales. However, the NBA has seen a surge in recent years and is not far behind.
The NFL has been losing viewership (roughly 1% annually) while the NBA has been gaining viewers at a rate of approximately 2% annually.
*Merchandise numbers are estimates based on available sales information
The NBA still trails the NFL in merchandise sales but it is gaining ground quickly. Merchandise sales are one example of influence of athletes. (People buy a particular athlete's jersey, not a team one).
Children have many different interests, and many of them play multiple sports.
However, once a child sees a popular athlete they admire, that sport becomes their primary focus which will continue to increase the popularity of the sport.
The size of an athlete's following is directly linked with how large of a platform they posses to use as they will to influence others.