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.

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