Nothing riles up fans more than other fans shaming them for not being good, loyal fans. Or for people to claim that they have some special monopoly on being good fans. But given that riling people up is part of our #Brand here at HBT, we usually pass on the results of that annual survey which purports to measure such things.
Brand Keys, a consulting firm or marketing firm or something, puts the list together by somehow measuring the “four emotional drivers” of fan loyalty, which are (1) Pure Entertainment; (2) Authenticity; (3) Fan Bonding; and (4) History and tradition. These are mixed in a pot with things like overall league and team rankings, viewership and merchandise sales and then this comes out like so. So basically, there’s no way to dispute their findings. We can just argue about them.
Top 5 Teams for the most loyal fans this year, with last year’s rankings in parentheses:
1. St. Louis Cardinals (#1)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (#3)
3. San Francisco Giants (#2)
4 Detroit Tigers (#4)
5. Washington Nationals (#5)
The bottom five with last year’s rankings in parenthesis:
30. Seattle Mariners (#25)
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (#29)
28. Colorado Rockies (#28)
27. San Diego Padres (#24)
26. Houston Astros (#30)
Worth noting that the Phillies led the list for “most loyal” on Opening Day 2011, which I think was probably the height of Philly fan enthusiasm. I don’t think enthusiasm and loyalty is the same thing, though. Most Philly fans I know are still loyal to their team. They’re just realistic that they suck. Same in reverse for the Mets, who used to — heck, maybe still do — have a singularly neurotic and pessimistic fan base but no one can doubt their loyalty. Indeed, if you’re not loyal you don’t allow yourself to be emotionally connected to the bad stuff enough to let it bother you. That makes the “fan bonding” and “entertainment” parts of this thing suspect. You can be a loyal fan even if your team has been hostile to you and is more misery inducing than entertaining.
And of course, all of this assumes that “loyalty” is an unequivocally great thing anyway. You don’t get a reserved spot in heaven, get your karma reduced or get holes punched in some sort of cosmic rewards card just for being loyal to your team. I know the whole Sports is Everything Industrial Complex has convinced people that loyalty is everything, but it’s actually pretty silly.
If you’re the sort of fan who watches the sports team you like up to the point they entertain you and make it worth your time and then tune out when the balance is off you’re not a better or worse person. If you put yourself through the ringer for them, no matter the situation, you’re neither of those things either. Let sports be your thing in your own way and don’t listen to people who would tell you different.