While there is a general consensus around the U.S. that sports are well-liked, not all areas of the country prefer the same sports or athletes. In fact, people in different areas within the same city such as those urban, suburban or rural areas can have very different opinions about sports. This topic was analyzed from a national study called the Voice of the American Fan. This study was designed to learn about the modern day American sports fan and to discover similarities and differences between fans and trends in the sports industry. This study is useful because recent events have caused an erosion in the interest of some spectator sports. Political controversy, safety risks, and technology has negatively changed people’s view in sports. Moreover, many fans feel like their preferences are being disregarded by the industry, which leaves them feeling neglected and dispassionate. So, it is vital for those in the sports industry to re-focus, to deeply focus on the fans. Otherwise, fans will continue to find other hobbies, passions, and entertainment. One way to learn about fans’ preferences is to discover where they live.
Participation in a sport is often a sign in determining the type of sports fan he or she is. Those who live in an urban area are most likely to currently play a sport and those who live in a rural area are least likely to currently play a sport. However, those in rural areas were most likely to say that they have played a sport at some point in their life, closely followed by those in urban areas.
One of the biggest differences between fans in different geographical areas is their favorite sport. For example, those in rural areas are much more interested in auto racing while those in urban areas are much more interested in basketball, soccer, and tennis. Since football is the most popular sport in America, it is not surprising that all groups indicated that football is their favorite sport to watch. However, for those who favor other sports, those in urban areas are most likely to choose basketball while those in suburban areas and those in rural areas are most likely to choose baseball as their favorite sport. All groups agreed that they like their favorite sports primarily because of the action and excitement.
While most fans are likely to say that they attend the same amount of sporting events that they did five years ago, those in urban areas are more likely than the other two groups to say that they attend more soccer games and tennis matches than they did five years ago. Interestingly, they are also more likely to attend more hockey games and golf matches than the other two groups as well. Additionally, they are also more interested in professional football “a lot more” than last year while those in suburban and rural areas are more likely to enjoy professional football less than last year.
Another curious finding is what each group’s favorite hobbies are aside from sports. For example, the three most popular hobbies for those in urban areas are: listening to music, cooking, and spending time with friends and family. The three most popular hobbies for those in suburban areas are (listed in order of popularity): listening to music, spending time with family, and watching sports on TV. Finally, the three most popular hobbies for those in rural areas as: spending time with friends and family, listening to music, and cooking. While the most popular hobbies are generally shared by each group, the order of the popularity varies between the groups. Additionally, those in urban areas were the only group to include watching sports on TV as one of their favorite hobbies. Perhaps this group of people is more dedicated and loyal to the world of sports than others?
All groups generally agreed that there has never been a sport that they used to follow that they do not anymore. However, for those who have lost interest in a sport over time, those in rural areas were more likely than the other two groups to have lost interest in their 20s. It is also interesting to examine why fans like their favorite sport so much. Those in urban areas are most likely to say that “the sport itself” is their favorite aspect while those in suburban and rural areas are most likely to say that “watching my favorite team” is their favorite aspect. This could lead one to believe that those in urban areas like sports for the sport itself while those in suburban and rural areas enjoy other aspects of the sport.
Sports fans are some of the most loyal, enthusiastic, and committed customers for an organization making it vital that their voice is always heard and recognized. Sports organizations must have a comprehensive understanding of what their customers value most. Besides knowing what type of sports are most popular in the U.S., it is very beneficial for these organizations to know where their most loyal fans live, what they like most when they attend a live game, what they do not like about their favorite sport, etc. There are many differences in fans’ opinions that are not always discussed or known, which is why the Voice of the American Fan exists. By uncovering their values and opinions which drive behavior we can better understand them and continually improve the experience for each and every fan...making them a dedicated life-long fan!