America This Week: Do We Need a Pro Pickleball League? Beauty Spending Backlash, Maternal Health Declines, and How To Ace an Interview

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

Summer’s not technically here until June 20th, but that didn’t stop Billboard from launching its annual Songs of the Summer chart. Post Malone’s “I Had Some Help” with Morgan Wallen is their #1. But in our America This Week Tracker, fielded from June 6th to 8th  among 2,115 Americans, Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” is the country’s current favorite.  Post Malone does track second but with another collaboration on Sabrina Carpenter’s “Espresso.”

We have four new polls that interested me this week: 

  • First, sports are exploding with new leagues, fans, and popularity (if not yet pay).
  • And with heightened social pressure on beauty spending, many struggle financially to keep up appearances.
  • Then, material healthcare is on the decline, say American women.
  • And finally, there’s a reason why you shouldn’t waste your breath on hypotheticals in job interviews.

Sports Have New Fans, New Leagues, But The Same Old Problems: The Sports Momentum Index: Allison-Harris Poll

As interest in sports broadened, especially with sports that were once on the fringes suddenly surging, we partnered with Allison & Partners to track the momentum of existing and emerging sports. 

  • New Leagues Form From Old Sports: Emerging professional leagues with the greatest momentum include Professional Pickleball, established in 1965 and with a momentum Index score of 59.41, while Women’s Hockey (56.63), Flag Football (55.30), Lacrosse (54.79), and Surfing (54.40) have the greatest buzz and new interest.
  • New fan bases are forming: Looking across multiple pro leagues (new and established), roughly (25%) are new fans (<3 years).
  • And they want more viewing opportunities: (40%+) of those familiar with smaller pro leagues (Pickleball, Lacrosse, NWSL, Track/Field, and Surfing) would watch more if content were available.
  • Case in point: The WNBA: Between February and May 2024, the WNBA saw increases in personal relevance, engagement, and cultural currency metrics – as well as significant increases in self-identified fans (+19 points).
  • And the buzz isn’t stopping for women’s sports: (60%) of Americans (including 58% of men) are excited to see the growth of women’s sports, evidenced by the PWHL being second in momentum during its inaugural season.
  • But when does pay equal performance? The average NBA player makes about 7.5 million dollars a year, while the WNBA average is 128,000 a year. Wider network TV coverage will start to close that gap, but it’s a long way to go.

Takeaway: Jennifer Musil, Managing Director of the Sports Practice at The Harris Poll says, “The data makes clear the exciting new opportunities for leagues and brands as a new ‘big bang’ of sports is happening – from growing fan bases around new leagues, the increasing star power of female athletes, and the evolution of mainstream leagues. Today’s fans see sports as part of their identity, connect with others around that fandom, and are ready to spend.”

Paying Through The Nose For Eyeliner: NerdWallet-Harris Poll

Beauty spending has exploded since the pandemic, with the rise of celebrity-driven brands, beauty influencers, and Zara-like serums rapidly entering the marketplace. However, according to our latest research with NerdWallet, a growing number of beauty consumers feel the financial pain of trips to Ulta or Sephora.

  • Pretty privilege: Three-quarters of Americans (75%) agree that “pretty privilege,” or personal and professional advantages for those perceived as beautiful, is real. This extends to moving through society, from relationships to careers.
  • Many agree that social media has exacerbated beauty spending: According to the survey, three-quarters of Americans (75%) say social media has made beauty spending much worse.
  • Many see beauty spending as a necessity, with (31%) considering at least some of the beauty products and services they buy as essential in their budget.
  • Even (11%) of men and women think cosmetic procedures are a good financial investment: That looking more attractive will be an asset to their careers.
  • Some Americans have gone into debt for beauty spending: Of Americans who say they’ve made beauty-related purchases for themselves, (15%) paid with a credit card that they didn’t pay off by the due date, and( 9%) used “buy now, pay later” services.

Takeaway: “Spending on beauty products and services can be fun and enjoyable, even helping shoppers feel a boost of confidence and joy. But it may also have a dark side,” says Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet. “Spending more than you can comfortably fit into your budget can lead to financial stress and, in some cases, long-term debt.”

Maternal Healthcare As An Election Issue For Many Women: HealthDay-Harris Poll

Many women are unhappy with the state of U.S. maternal health care even as Americans fail to understand how badly the nation lags behind other wealthy countries in this area, according to our latest collaboration with HealthDay.

  • Maternal care quality has dropped: Only about 2 in 5 (42%) women currently pregnant or ever pregnant strongly felt they had access to the best possible medical care while pregnant, down significantly from 50% in 2022.
  • Women reported similar numbers regarding their health care while giving birth: About (44%) felt they had access to the best possible medical care during delivery, down from 52% in 2022.
  • And for mental health, (21%) of women who sought help for their mental health problems said they either didn’t receive care or were unhappy with the care they got.
  • Despite this, Americans were still likely to rank U.S. maternal care better than it is, as only about 2 in 5 (40%) Americans knew that the country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality.

Takeaway: “These results confirm that pregnancy and birth care in the United States is on the decline, and there is much room for improvement,” said Christina Lojek, research manager, media and communications research, at The Harris Poll.

Skip The Hypotheticals In Interviews: Yoh-Harris Poll

According to research with Yoh, featured in HR Dive, job candidates want to be asked about their skills, not hypotheticals or nonnegotiables.

  • Context: Harris Poll’s research with Express Employment Professionals found that a third of hiring managers (33%) anticipate employee turnover increasing this year at their company.
  • So, when filling roles, they should know that, in general, candidates favored interview questions with positive framing, according to our Yoh research:
  • In this economy, hit the brakes on hypotheticals: Only (28%) want to answer, “If money was no object, what would you choose to do as a career?”
  • Make sure to see past the name in interviews: Previous Harris research covered by Fast Company found that two in five Americans agreed that job candidates with “foreign” names are less likely to be called back for an interview than candidates with Westernized names (42%).

Takeaway: “The key for hiring managers is to strike the right balance between relying on conventional, tried-and-true questions and pushing the boundaries of the traditional interview with out-of-the-box questions that test applicants’ creativity and problem-solving ability,” Emmett McGrath, president of Yoh, said.

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from June 6th to 8th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,115 U.S. adults.

John Gerzema headshot

John Gerzema


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from June 6th to 8th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,115 U.S. adults.


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