Hey, you there in the Mike Trout jersey, and you in the Clayton Kershaw jacket! Ever stop to think just why you prefer one team to another? Why do you root for USC instead of UCLA? Why the Raiders and not the ‘Niners or Rams?
Been wondering these issues myself? What makes a person identify with one group of constantly-changing paid players – even in college, sometimes, alas – rather than the other guys?
So I did some research and here’s what I came up with. Cheer or boo based on your person preferences.
First, let’s look at which teams are the both popular, with a special emphasis on Major League Baseball. Attendance figures are somewhat deceiving, since the stadium capacities are different from place and to place.
Having said that, the 2016 total attendance – home and away combined for MLB saw the top teams as the Los Angeles Dodgers, at 6.3 million, with the Toronto Blue Jays leading the American League with 5.8 million. There were seven teams which topped 3 million at home: the Angels, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Cubs.
So you’d expect those teams to be at the top, fan-wise, maybe.
So we looked at the polling done by the Public Policy Polling company. Their top 10 goes like this: Yankees, Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Giants, Rangers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Tigers and Mets. The Angels limp in at 11th. The Blue Jays didn’t make it, partly because PPP doesn’t poll in Canada.
The point we’re trying to make here – weakly, I know – is that there are many ways to measure how many people follow a team. A championship season will boost attendance, but sometimes only temporarily. So what makes a person root for their team year in, year out? Writing in The Atlantic magazine,
Andy Hinds explored the same topic and came up with these influences.
Geography: Most fans will identify with the “home team,” which explains why the Angels are popular in Orange County and the Inland Empire, while the Dodgers own most of the rest of the area. It also speaks to why the Cubs dominate all of Chicago except for South Side, which is resolutely White Sox territory.
Family tradition: If your dad (or mother) was a big Red Sox fan, then the chances of being a Sox fan are pretty good. It’s also a way of giving the family a unifying influence.
Symbolic allegiance: If you live in Colorado but root for the Marlins, you might be – according to sociologist Michael Lewis – be using your team choice as method of “standing out from the crowd” and declaring your individuality.
To these I would add a) fair weather fans who cheer for whoever is winning and b) star-followers who adhere to a team which has a great star, which might explain, in part, all those Trout and Kershaw items you see people wearing at Target.
Monday Morning Coach usually appears on Monday morning, by Pete Zarustica was a slacker today.
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