MLB Perceived as Having Best Officiating Among Major Spectator Sports, Beating NFL by 64-48% Margin

62 percent said legalized sports betting influences people’s reaction to officiating of NFL games; Democrats and Republicans Can agree on something: the quality of officiating.


South Orange NJ, October 29, 2019  — Despite seeing nearly half of all disputed calls reversed by video replay, Americans perceive the officiating of Major League Baseball better than any other major sport.

And what’s truly remarkable in this day and age of polarization, is that Democrats and Republicans are in agreement on whether officiating is good or terrible on a sport-by-sport basis.

“At last, something they can agree on,” noted Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, which is sponsored by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business.  “The differences were negligible in almost every case.”

These are the findings of a Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted last week among 703 adult Americans across the country on both landlines and cellphones.  The Poll has a margin of error of +/-3.8 percent.  (The margin of error for the smaller sample of Democrats and Republicans, 176 of each, is +/- 7.5 percent.)

Major League Baseball scored a 64 percent approval rating for umpiring, with only 3 percent saying it was terrible.  And here we find 65 percent of Democrats saying it is good, and 67 percent of Republicans.

For the NFL, 48 percent rated the officiating as good (57 percent Democrats; 54 percent Republicans), but 27 percent called it terrible. A separate question, the suggestion of using replay on every call, found the public equally divided – 41 percent approving, and 42 percent disapproving, with 17 percent having no opinion.  (While the parties can agree on officiating, they don’t agree on how to improve it. On this there was division by party, with 51 percent of Democrats approving of replay on every play, but only 27 percent of Republicans approving.)

The NBA had a 49 percent rating of “good” for its officiating; the NHL 44 percent; college basketball 48 percent, and college football 53 percent, all very close along party lines (see breakdown by party at the end of this release).

Percent saying that each sport has “good officiating.”

Major League Baseball 65 67
National Football League 57 54
National Basketball Assoc. 55 57
National Hockey League 43 45
College Basketball 55 60
College Football 65 67

Asked if legalized sports betting influences people’s reaction to officiating of NFL games, 62 percent said yes, 20 percent no and 18 percent don’t know – again, fairly equal along party lines.

About the poll:

This poll was conducted by telephone October 21-23 among adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones.  The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.Recently chosen for inclusion in iPoll by Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, its findings have been published everywhere from USA Today, ESPN, The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and Reuters to Fox News and most points in between.

Media: Media: Marty Appel,;
Michael Ricciardelli, Associate Director of Media Relations, Seton Hall, 908-447-3034

The results:

  1. The NFL has been criticized recently for a series of questionable calls by officials. One suggestion is to have a referee overseeing every call made or not made on video and confirming or overruling the call on the field. Do you approve or disapprove?

Dem      Rep          Ind      Other

1 – Approve                                                                               41          51              27          43

2 – Disapprove                                                                          42          40              56          39

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                                     17            9              17          18


I’m going to read you a few sports.  Tell me if you think the officiating is good or terrible:

  1. Major League Baseball

1 – Good                                                                       64          65              67          63

2 – Terrible                                                                      3            2                7            3

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                        33          33              27          33


  1. National Football League

1 – Good                                                                       48          57              54          41

2 – Terrible                                                                   27          19              29          31

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                       25          24              17          28


  1. National Basketball Association


1 – Good                                                                       49          55              57          42

2 – Terrible                                                                   13          19              29          17

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                       38          24              17          41


  1. National Hockey League


1 – Good                                                                       44          43              45          45

2 – Terrible                                                                     6            6                6            5

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                        51          52              49          50


  1. College Basketball

1 – Good                                                                       48          55              60          38

2 – Terrible                                                                     9            8                3          13

3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                        44          37              37          49


  1. College Football

1 – Good                                                                       53          65              67          41
2 – Terrible                                                                   12            8              13          14
3 – Don’t know/No opinion                                        34          26              20          45


  1. Is sports betting, which has been legalized in many states, influencing people’s reaction to officiating of NFL games?


1 – Yes                                                                                        62          64              62          60

2 – No                                                                                        20          19              26          18

3 – Don’t know                                                                         18          18              13          22


  1. Would you describe yourself as a Democrat, Republican, Independent or something else?


1 – Democrat                                                                            25

2 – Republican                                                                          25

3 – Independent                                                                       30

4 – Other                                                                                    15

5 – Don’t know/No Opinion                                                      4


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall has been showing the world what great minds can do since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall embraces students of all religions and prepares them to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. In recent years, the University has achieved extraordinary success. Since 2009, it has seen record-breaking undergraduate enrollment growth and an impressive 110-point increase in the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen. In the past decade, Seton Hall students and alumni have received more than 30 Fulbright Scholarships as well as other prestigious academic honors, including Boren Awards, Pickering Fellowships, Udall Scholarships and a Rhodes Scholarship. The University is also proud to be the third most diverse national Catholic university in the nation.

During the past five years, the University has invested more than $165 million in new campus buildings and renovations. And in 2015, Seton Hall launched a School of Medicine as well as a College of Communication and the Arts. The University’s beautiful main campus in suburban South Orange, N.J. is only 14 miles from New York City — offering students a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. Seton Hall’s nationally recognized School of Law is located prominently in downtown Newark. The University’s Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Clifton and Nutley, N.J. opened in the summer of 2018. The IHS campus houses the University’s College of Nursing, School of Health and Medical Sciences and the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.

For more information, visit

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.