Some call them crazy or obsessed, others call them dedicated.
Some are calm and collected while others throw their remote at the TV. Some are faithful and patiently wait 108 years for their team to break the curse of a goat, others are fair weather or bandwagon. Some wear whatever they pull out of their closet after they stumble out of bed while others wear the same outfit down to their unwashed underwear each game. They gobble up all the latest news, scores, and trades for their team of choice.
Whether you are a sports fan or not, it is hard to ignore them when we live in a culture that idolizes sports.
Baseball, given the glorified title of “America’s pastime,” which will most likely always be the iconic sport of America, falls just behind football when it comes to the professional sport with the most fans. During the Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire home run era, approximately 63% of Americans considered themselves baseball fans and reported that they enjoy watching the sport. Baseball reached an all-time low fan base during the infamous strike in April of 1995 when only 41% of Americans dubbed themselves fans. Today, around half of Americans consider themselves baseball fans and are scattered all around the United States. But have you ever wondered who are the fans that pour so much of their time and effort into cheering on their favorite team? With half of Americans favoring baseball, who are the ones that prefer to sit down and watch a game that, as the great Yogi Berra put it, is 90% mental and the other half is physical? Who enjoys spending their time analyzing every possible situation from a sacrifice fly to suicide squeeze or maybe even a duck snort right over the second baseman’s head? (If you aren’t sure what a duck snort is, check out my next blog.) But, isn’t the whole point of watching sports being able to kick back, flip the footrest of your recliner up, and drink a cold beer? Not to these people. Which people in America favor one of the most slow paced sports out there?
While studying the demographics of baseball fans around America, it was found they have quite a bit in common with fans of other sports and includes people from all different backgrounds. At 54%, men are more likely to favor the sport of baseball than women (41%). Also, people from more affluent backgrounds are more likely to sit down with a helmet of nachos and enjoy a game. Thirty-one percent of families who make less than $30,000, forty-eight percent of families who make $30,000 to $74,999, and continuing to steadily climb, 54% of families who make more than $75,000, report being baseball fans.
These particular demographics do not vary from fans who reported professional or college football or basketball as their top choice in sports. Many do not realize being a dedicated fan can be quite expensive. Want to rep the authentic jersey of World Series MVP Ben Zobrist? Hope you are ready to shell out close to $145. And while tickets can be found pretty cheap through sites like stubhub and seatgeek, I hope you are content either spending $20 on a drink and hotdog or being “hangry” and thirsty for the next three and a half hours. Looking at prices like these, it is no wonder why sports fans tend to come from upper class households. In order to get an experience that includes more than your creaky recliner and TV remote, you must be willing to shell out a pretty penny.
The noticeable difference in baseball fans’ demographics lies in the age. Only… “6% of 18-to 29-year-olds say baseball is their favorite sport. That compares with 10% among 30-to 49-year-olds, 11% among 50-to 64-year olds, and 18% among those aged 65 and older. Basketball shows a reverse pattern, with a higher proportion of younger Americans and a lower percentage of older Americans saying it is their favorite sport.” Maybe millennials tend to stray away from the sport of baseball since they like fast paced sports with a lot of action and violence, three qualities that do not describe this particular sport. Or maybe it is because millennials tend to favor sports and events that are heavily shown in media and contain flashy highlight reels, such as the NFL ,NHL, NBA, and pretty much everything else besides NCAA baseball.
Baseball fans are one of a kind, and some of the most dedicated people you will come across (especially St. Louis Cardinals fans). By better understanding the demographics of fans, the MLB can target these people and decide what rhetorical strategies they can use to keep these fans coming back for more.
Statistics and quotes provided by Gallup.