Like a lot of you I have been a sports fan my entire life. Unlike a lot of you my baseball team of choice is the Yankees. Whether it is Red Sox Nation, Yankees Universe, or some other fanatic group that people join to show their support and allegiance for a particular team, sports have been, continue to, and always will be a central part of American culture. A recent ESPN Sports Poll of more than 12,000 respondents ages 12+ found that 86% of Americans consider themselves sports fans. 60% of all NFL television viewing is done by people who plan to get together with others to watch. “Sport provides a source of both group and personal identity,” says Jeff James, a Florida State University professor whose research focuses on fan loyalty. “It satisfies basic needs for belonging.”
Sports in America are huge. No big revelation there. Then why are the numbers starting to change in the other direction? Research is finding that interest in sports has been on a steady decline since 2008. A summer 2008 study conducted by ESPN and ICR found that 40% of American adults are enjoying sports less. Why the declining interest? The easy answer is, “it’s the economy stupid.” But, maybe it’s something else. Maybe the economy is not totally at fault. Maybe, just maybe, sports need to share some of, if not most of the blame.
The intent of this blog is to look at pressing sports issues from the fan’s perspective. It is my belief, as well as many others, that the sport industry is focusing too much on the business side (the almighty dollar), and not enough on the sport side. Team executives forget why they first became sports fans in the first place. It wasn’t about Personal Seat Licenses, or stadium naming rights, or corporate luxury suites. It’s about the sound of the crack of the bat on an autumn evening. It’s about passing around the thermos of hot chocolate at a football game on a brisk winter afternoon. That’s what I hope to accomplish with this blog. Giving the fan, the 12th man, a voice.
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