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Bonds, Vick and the Race Factor

Two of the sports world's biggest stars are making headlines this week, one for his performance on the field (and how he was able to achieve it) and the other for off-the-field conduct; San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds is poised to break Hank Aaron's long-standing career home run record after years of speculation about whether or not he used steroids and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has been indicted on charges related to dogfighting.

Recent polling shows both stories divide fans, particularly along racial lines.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported the results of an InsiderAdvantage survey of Georgians on how the Falcons should react to Vick's indictment. The survey found a state divided: 46 percent said the Falcons ought to release Vick, while the same percentage said he should remain on the team until a verdict is rendered. Falcons' fans expressed similar sentiments, 47 percent said the team should let their QB go.

Black respondents were much more likely than whites to believe Vick should be given the benefit of the doubt. Two-thirds of blacks said the Falcons should wait for a verdict before making a decision about Vick, nearly 30 percentage points higher than among white respondents.

In Bonds' case, an ABC News/ESPN poll of baseball fans released in May found that Bonds' record-breaking home run may not be met with many cheers. Just 37 percent of baseball fans were rooting for the controversial slugger to break Hammerin' Hank's record and more than half were rooting against him.

Along racial lines, however, a different picture emerges. Three-quarters of black baseball fans said they were hoping Bonds would break the record and just 37 percent believe he knowingly used steroids. Among whites, the results are a mirror image: 76 percent believe that Bonds did use steroids and 37 percent are rooting for him to break the record.

Will sports fans' opinions continue to diverge once the record falls or a verdict is reached? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 20, 2007; 7:17 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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