Our VoiceHealth & Environment

The ‘Proximity Effected’ Fan

Guest Blogger • Sep 26, 2008

Many people like rooting for a sports team because of the proximity effect; they live in or near a city and therefore feel the need to root for that team. This, I believe, is possibly one of the stupidest reasons to root for a team.

I must preface this article by saying that I live in a major metropolitan city with two professional teams on the verge of heading to the playoffs and I hate one and feel indifferent to the other. I am a fan of one of these team’s rivals which often results in me getting perturbed looks and jabs. Aside from maybe rooting for a team because they have cute or likable players (i.e. many Yankees “fans” rooting for the team because of how nice Derek Jeter is or how hot A-Rod looks in his uniform), the proximity effect is just about the laziest reason to root for a particular team.

It suggests that when you move you must become a fan of a different and possibly competing team. This can become a problem if you happen to live in a state with more than one professional sports team. I decided to look at how professional sports teams are distributed in the United States between the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League in order to better understand the fan that follows the proximity effect.

Here are my findings:

The state of California has 15 professional sports teams that reside in its borders. This means that the roughly 36 million citizens (of course not all of these are sports fans) that live in the state must narrow their decision down between 7 major cities. If you are citizen of northern California, near the border of Oregon, your choice of teams would be drastically reduced.

California takes the cake as the state with the most teams, second to New York, Florida, and Texas, respectively. Now of course this makes sense when you consider the populations of all these states. California is the most populous state in the U.S., followed by Texas, New York, and Florida. A possible explanation as to why Texas does not have more sports teams than Florida or New York may be due to the sheer magnitude of the state.

Sporting events in large metropolitan areas are generally a safe bet for owners and investors because they have the opportunity to reach a wide variety of people. This may explain why there are currently no professional sports teams in the following states: Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, South Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut.


The entire problem with the proximity fan is just this: What happens if you live in one of the above states? Do you not have the “right” to root for a sports team at all? If you happen to choose a team that is halfway across the country for reasons beyond team cuteness and physical location, I would say that you have every right to do so. In fact, I would give you more respect than I would these proximity fans.

In closing, I hope you root for your team(s) not because you live near them. Perhaps you have ties to your team because of family, place of business, or you just happen to like a successful organization (there are a host of other valid reasons). I just can’t stand the “But you’re from (insert city), how can you not like the (insert nearest sports team)” argument. I also must confess that I happen to live in Chicago during the Cubs and White Sox respective playoff runs and I reserve every right to root for their utter failure.

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