Are all Sports Fans Created Equal?



Choosing to follow a life of stereotype and propaganda, the average sports fan can be described as dedicated and opinionated. Just how opinionated can be expressed via the recent findings conducted by the Voice of the American Fan, 2018. The study, distributed in the form of an online survey to approximately one-thousand respondents, reveals that fans who favor different sports vary in their level of interest, favorite aspect of the sport, and the reason they began following the sport.

Not only does the survey gather information about like which sports are most popular, but it also provided a more comprehensive understanding by asking fans to expand upon the underrated aspects of being a sports fan. This detailed analysis yields several notable findings concerning the three most popular sports in America (football, basketball, baseball)  and what sets these fans apart.

For example, many members in these three groups tend to be dedicated, passionate, and loyal. They are also the most likely groups to indicate that negative publicity of a player or sport will not cause them to change the level or type of interest in the sport. Perhaps this can be attributed to respondents’ level of loyalty towards their favorite team.

It is possible that fans feel more connected to a team as a whole rather than individual athletes who participate in sports like golf. While fans agree on certain aspects of their favorite sports, the similarities do not stretch very far.

Utilizing the Differences Among Sports’ Fans

As a fan continues to adapt in their preferences, sports teams and marketers must be aware of these developments so they can modify their efforts to remain relevant.

The differences can take the form of the level of interest in the sport, the methods most commonly used to follow the sport, and the number of live attendances per year.

The study reveals that while all three sports generally have a pretty high interest in their favorite sport, baseball fans typically have the lowest level of interest compared to football and baseball. In fact, football and basketball fans are more likely to regularly follow their favorite sport than are baseball fans. Basketball fans are also more likely to attend eight or more games per year than are football or baseball fans.

Furthermore, football fans are the most likely group to be considered “die-hard sports fans” which are the most dedicated and passionate type of fans. This finding is not necessarily surprising because football is the most popular sport, and fans of football often feel very connected to not only their favorite team but also their friends or family that prefer the same team. This strong connection to the sport and loved ones can easily increase one’s dedication and loyalty towards football, and as a result, he or she is considered a die-hard sports fan.

Not surprisingly, football fans were the most likely group to have watched the 2018 and 2017 Super Bowl while baseball fans are the least likely group to have done do. Many baseball fans like football even less than they did last year compared to football and basketball fans. Baseball fans are also not typically interested in different types of auto racing whereas basketball fans often display higher levels in intrigue.

Furthermore, for those who indicate that the Olympics increases their interest level in sports, football fans’ interest lasts the longest out of the three groups. These findings could easily lead to the conclusion that baseball fans are often less flexible and generous in their level of interest in other sports and other major sporting events.

Fans also differ on their favorite aspect of a sporting event. While baseball and football fans are much more likely to choose “watching my favorite team” as their favorite aspect of a sport, basketball fans are more likely to indicate that they favorite aspect is “the sport itself” or “the exciting environment.” This finding continues to reflect football fans’ loyalty towards their favorite team and also displays baseball fans’ allegiance to their favorite teams as well.

It is interesting to note that basketball fans are more likely to have a stronger interest in soccer and tennis specifically than fans of football or baseball. This can possibly be explained by the season of the sports. Tennis is played continually throughout the year and soccer is played primarily from March to October. Both sports are played during a portion of football and baseball season, but not during basketball season; so, perhaps basketball fans like soccer and tennis because those are the sports in season when basketball is not.

The culmination of this information provides a useful foundation to ensure that sports fans’ opinions, beliefs, and preferences remain significant in the sports industry. As trends and preferences continue to change, it is often difficult to understand what fans value most in terms of overall experience. By examining trends of the three most popular sports in America, it offers an illustration as to the opinions that are shared by fans who prefer different sports and also the opinions that diverge between these fans. Marketers and sports management teams can use this information to guarantee that their fans continue to feel connected with their favorite teams, athletes, and fellow fans and are unceasingly entertained by the overall riveting experience of following a sport.