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Raves/Rants about the goings-on on a little blue inconsequential planet in a small and relatively uninspiring solar system which is on the far end of a small and wholly unspectacular galaxy in the large universe.

Fair-Weather Sports Fans

Category: , By Satchal
I've always wondered why sports fans in certain places are so much more passionate than others, why sports, and particularly following sports, weighs more heavily on some people's minds than others. After all culturally, Americans are relatively (to European and Asian cultures) homogeneous; and yet there are geographical differences in their behavioral patterns. I don't have the background to do a psychological or sociological analysis, and my observations are somewhat un-scientific, but I think sports obsession can essentially be correlated with the local climate.

Having lived in the United States for the majority of my life, having traveled the country's length and breadth, and having followed the history of sports in the US fairly closely, I feel comfortable in speculating where the most passionate, obsessive sports fans live. In my experience, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, and other nearby big cities are the homes of teams considered to have the most impassioned sports fans. Through thick and thin, winning seasons and losing seasons alike, the fans in these cities are considered to stick by their teams and players. I've spent extensive time in about half on those, and I can speculate that this is probably true. You could probably through Seattle into that mix.

Conversely, the cities where fans are considered to be fair-weather and fickle, are places like Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and towns in those locales. Dallas fans are rather famous in this regard. Similarly, Los Angeles, the country's largest media market, couldn't sustain enough interest to keep an NFL team in town, despite that league's rise to the most popular in the country. In fact, LA lost both its football teams, both of which have been fairly successful since departing town.

So what's the constant theme here? The weather, of course. Where the temperature is colder, where the winters are harsher, and where people are more often confined to their homes due to inclement weather conditions, the fans tend to be more obsessive (i.e. true sports fans). I don't blame them. After all, when your favorite teams are losing, and you're stuck at home, I can envision scenarios where the gloom and doom weighs you down more. Consequently, I think the successes of their sports teams weigh more heavily on their minds. These folks don't have a lot of distractions.

On the other hand, in cities with warmer weather, where folks can get out more, the fans tend to have more perspective. After all, with all the distractions, what incentive would fans have to follow a poor sports team? If the Lakers didn't have Kobe Bryant and constantly finished in the bottom half of the standings, would fans fight traffic to get to the Staples Center and watch games? Or would they rather take the trouble to go to LA's numerous beaches and enjoy the sea and sun? That's what I thought. I think people in these towns are also able to deal with sports disappointments better, because of all the distractions. On the other hand, when the teams do well, attending games becomes a hip, trendy thing to do, a place to be seen, and that's usually what games in LA or Dallas are like when the teams are winning. On top of that, I think there is a greater percentage of transplants out west, and they feel less loyalty to the local sports teams and would tend not to go unless, again, there was some social impact or quality experience to be had by attending.

So where the weather is fairer, the fans tend to be more fair-weather (I wonder if that is the origin of that phrase), but is that such a bad thing? And which would you rather be, and where would you rather live? Of course, you're welcome to poke holes in these arguments.

2 comments so far.

  1. El Subliminal June 18, 2008 at 2:27 PM
    Well, there is a strong correlation to weather, but methinks that's not the only factor. For instance, I believe socio-economic factors also play a role.

    Take Venezuela for instance. Weather is fine. But you see killings over dumb sports. Same in Brazil and other South American countries. People are definitely loony in cold weather places in the US but atleast they don't bump each other off.

    It's more complex me thinks. Take Europe. Say countries like Greece, or Italy or even UK. Weather is great (except UK). People indulge in general
    debauchery all the time. Tons of distractions. Yet one hears of people getting killed in soccer skirmishes.

    Climate does account for general lunacy but there are other factors to consider as well. I think you should think about this more carefully...
  2. Tracer Bullit June 18, 2008 at 3:14 PM
    That's why I tried to restrict my discussion to the US. In those places...it's like cricket in India. It's just in their DNA, regardless of weather. Certainly socio-economic considerations should be taken into account, but that doesn't explain the difference in passion between, say LA and NYC. Anyway, I just wanted to start a discussion.

Something to say?