Only a few cities have sports franchises and their fans provide their home teams varying degrees of support. In some cities, fans stick by their favorite team through good times and bad . In others, fans are fickle, quick to jump off the bandwagon when the team is not doing well. In order to judge which are the best sports cities in America , one has to judge the commitment of its sports fans to their teams . Just how does one do it ?
There is of course no scientific way of measuring the degree to which sports fans support their teams, no statistics , not even any set criteria. In coming up with a list of the best sports cities in America , I’ve considered the following factors and , no , they are not arranged in order of importance. The factors are :
1. Number of professional sports teams in the city. Of course, one has to take the size of the city into consideration since big cities have a larger number of sports fans of all types. New York and Los Angeles have a decided advantage over the others. Then again, cities in the South cannot be expected to have NHL franchises.
2. Relative success of the teams. Some cities have not had a championship team in ages and their fans have to be given greater credit for sticking by their teams.
3.The rabidity of the fans as judged by their behavior at games and their comments on sports blogs .
4. The value of the sports franchises. I give this the least weight because the value is sometimes tied to an aggressive owner ( Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins) , or a new stadium and shrewd marketing ( Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys) At the same time , one cannot disregard the fact that that three Boston teams the Celtics, the Red Sox and the New England Patriots are among the Most Valuable sports franchises in the U.S.
Taking all these factors into consideration , this is my list of the Best Sports Cities in America :
1. Boston has got to be the first by a country mile.Much smaller than New York and L.A , the city turns out in force for all four of its sports teams ( Celtics , Red Sox, Patriots and Red Sox) and its fans are among the most passionate and knowledgeable. I give the Red Sox fans extra credit because they have endured decades of humiliation at the hands of the Yankees and Yankee fans before tasting success recently. I’m a Laker fan ( who detests the Celtics and hates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) and a supporter of the Yankees and Giants ( but who nevertheless respects the Red Soxand likes the Patriots ) but I have to give Boston fans props for their loyalty and fervor.
2. New York fans are also very knowledgeable and , like those in Boston, very feisty. They too have suffered through long dry spells with the Rangers and Jets. I include the Jets and the Giants and Islanders among the New York teams because their fan base is mostly in N.Y.C and the team name still says New York. I exclude the Devils and the Nets for the similar reasons. Because of the multiplicity of sports teams , New York fans spend a lot of time hating their intra-city rivals but , at the same time , they have to be applauded for supporting so many teams. It’s got to be admitted that New Yorkers are a little spoilt because of the unparalleled success of the Yankees but overall, they are clearly second only to Boston.
3. Los Angeles too has many sports and Laker fans are among the most rabid. I can’t fault L.A for not being to hold on to a football team since Al Davis is enough to try anyone’s patience. Give them extra credit for putting up with decades of futility with the Clippers.
4. Chicago. How can one not admire a city that is still waiting for the Cubs to hoist a championship banner ?
5. Washington is passionate about the Redskins , less so about it’s baseball teams ( the Senators and now the Nationals). Considering it’s small population and relative poverty, one has to rank it high for its support of teams in all four sports particularly since the Nationals and Wizards are perrenial also-rans.
6. Denver. I’m impressed with the way its fans root for the Nuggets and I appreciate the fact that they support teams in all four sports inspite of the relatively small population.
7. Green Bay only has the Packers , the sole publicly owned team in all of the major sports. Kudos to its fans for turning out in all kinds of horrible weather… and for putting up for so long with Brett Favre ( just kidding !)
8. Portland , like Green Bay,only has one pro team, the basketball TrailBlazers, but I appreciate the manner in which its fans regularly sell out the Rose Garden and root for their team.
9. Pittsburgh fans have more to be happy about than fans in many other cities considering how successful the Steelers and, to a lesser extent the Penguins, have been. However, they appear to have given up on the Pirates and I therefore rank them only ninth.
10. Philadelphia, in my opinion , has the nastiest fans of all perhaps reflecting the hardnosed nature of the Flyers and Eagles. Maybe that’s the reason I don’t rank them higher ; they certainly are loud and committed.
Honorable Mention: New Orleans, Houston , Detroit, Indianapolis.
As I said at the outset, this ranking is purely subjective. It’s my opinion . What’s yours ?