Multicultural Sports Fans

Do sports in the U.S. reflect the demographics of the United States?

In checking out some highlights from the NHL playoffs, I came across Hockey 101 by Snoop Dogg (aka Dogg Cherry) which brought to the forefront the question about African American viewership of the NHL.  In looking into this I found some interesting research by Demographic Partitions that was quite interesting and breaks down how different gender, race, and ethnic segments are represented in the fan base.

To some extent the community is reflected in the arenas for local sports teams.  However, this varies greatly depending on the sport, the team and other factors. While the sport itself  may fit traditional segment lines, there are numerous factors that can make a difference.

Some quick hits:

  • White/Caucasian fans:  NHL (92%) & NASCAR (94%)
  • Black/African American: NBA has more regular fans in this segment than White/Caucasian fans.
  • Hispanic: MLS has a strong following among the Hispanic market.
  • Gender: 37% of NASCAR fans who watched were female
  • Age: 63% of Golf fanbase is 55+ while the the youngest was soccer with 14% of fans for Real League Soccer falling in the 17 and under range.

For me, one of the more interesting factors to consider that was not touched on in this study has to do with how the fans of each team represent their community.   As a sports fan I have gone to many games and by just looking around noticed how the crowd may or may not represent their community.

  • Soccer in Northern California: you guessed it dominated by a Hispanic following.  From MLS to COPA AMERICA, to friendlies featuring Real Madrid, Manchester United and others  the latino population of the community dominates
  • San Jose Sharks (NHL): A hockey game in San Jose is actually one of the more diverse experiences with large representation of latino fans as well as Asian Indian fans in the mix due to the community.
  • Detroit RedWings (NHL): In a community that has a large African American population, my experience here is that this segment was under represented, which does reflect the overall NHL challenge.

There are numerous considerations behind the diversity of fan bases for teams. To be successful every team and league needs to continue the expansion of their fan bases to include all segments of their community.

Arab American Institute map

Hockey 101 by Snoop Dogg (aka Dogg Cherry)

Stanley Cup playoffs with Dogg Cherry (Snoop Dogg)

While admittedly my team is competing more for a high draft pick than the playoffs, it is again one of those great times for all hockey fans.   While an extremely diverse sport in terms of the countries that players come from, from a multicultural marketing standpoint in the U.S., well it is predominantly white.  However, depending on the market, there has been a significant increase in fans from diverse backgrounds (ex. Hispanic, Asian in California markets) but yet in cities such as Detroit with large African American populations, the fans (at the game) are not representative of the area and predominantly white.  Now comes a unique perspective from the famous artist Snoop Dogg who partnering with the NHL has worked on some interesting videos as DOGG Cherry.

African American viewership of NHL versus NBA

Ok,  not close at all.  NHL viewership is 92% caucasian so this is stating the obvious, but the NBA wins hands down.  However at least one famous fan Snoop Dogg has worked with the NHL to create a nice Hockey 101 intro for everyone, however will likely relate with African American fans as well as all Snoop Dogg fans of any race.

Don Cherry versus Dogg Cherry

Don Cherry: Professional hockey commentator, retired professional hockey player and coach.  Host of Coach’s Corner for Hockey Night in Canada seen here.

Dogg Cherry: the hockey alias for Snoop Dogg: a famous american singer, songwriter, producer, actor, personality, and a hockey fan as well seen here.

There is no doubt that in the hockey world Don Cherry is the most famous, however, for the NHL increasing the appeal among multicultural fan bases is incredibly important and maybe, Dogg Cherry can help.

African American history in the NHL.

While Jackie Robinson is famed to have broken the color barrier in baseball, it is less well known who has that distinction in hockey.  Willie O’Ree in 1958 has that distinction.  In addition he was the first director of the NHL Diversity task force and while the league is not know for the significant presence of black players, there have been many through the years.  For a little more, check out the trailer for a movie “Soul On Ice” focused on just that.


2018 Diversity Calendar of Events

The United States is rich with diversity and if there was any question, just have a look at the diversity of our celebrations. From Martin Luther King day in January, Black History month in February, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage month (May) to Hispanic Heritage month (September/October) to name just a few.

Have a look at the full break down from Diversity Best Practices and I’m sure you will find some that you weren’t even aware of (ex. Krishna Janmashtami…..will let you find that one in the list).

Here are some key ones that should be on the minds of  multicultural marketers.


January 15: Martin Luther King Day commemorates the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and an activist for non-violent social change until his assassination in 1968.

February is Black History Month in the United States and Canada.

February 9-25 Olympics PyeongChang:  OK, not an officially on diversity calendars, but is a celebration of diversity in athletics, athletes and cultures.

February 16: Lunar New Year, one of the most sacred of all traditional Chinese holidays, a time of family reunion and celebration. Lunar New Year is also celebrated at this time in Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia.

March is Women’s History Month.

May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States.

Ramadan (Muslim): May 15 – June15: Ramadan is the Islamic holiday that takes place during the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

2018 World Cup June 14-July 15, 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup

From September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day,which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.  For more information related to Hispanic Heritage Month visit Reach Hispanic.  For information related to advertising to this important segment visit Alcance Media Group.

Chinese: Mid-Autumn Festival: A celebration that begins on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese lunar calendar.  For 2018 this will be September 22-24, 2018

November / December

Elections in the United States:  Of major importance to all multicultural segments in the United States and takes place and is theTuesday following the first Monday in November. It can fall on or between November 2 and November 8.  For 2018 the date is November 6, 2018.  More information at

Including the likes of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and New Years this period is key for marketers.  After all it seems that Toyotathon is almost a national holiday.