Who Made You A Sports Fan?

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Why do you root for the team you root for? It sounds like a simple question, but actually think on it for a moment. The received wisdom is that when we choose our sports allegiances, we're too young to weigh things like history and future success in our decision. That's why so many of us are trapped in loveless sports marriages: we have no free will. Our team is thrust upon us.

Via Robert Krulwich at NPR, somebody has actually studied how we receive our first fandom. (Click the chart to enlarge.) These numbers aren't new, but we've never seen them before and they shed light on a question we've never asked but are fascinated by the answer to.


Who had the single greatest influence on your first sports love? Your father, most likely. Nearly 40 percent of males and more than 30 percent of females surveyed say their teams were foisted upon them by dad. Dad controlled the TV, dad cheered for his favorite team, and little you, eager to please papa, cheered right along with him.

A distant second place for male respondents is getting hooked on sports by an older brother, followed by their friends, their school, and then the media. For women, the breakdown is different in a couple of ways: they're much more likely to inherit their fandom at school, or from a boyfriend.


Not one man was willing to admit his girlfriend or wife first turned him on to sports.

How We Become Sports Fans: The Tyranny Of Fathers [NPR]