New York is the only city in the United States to have at least two teams in each major sports league – for the sake of simplicity for interviewees, major being defined as Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey – and yet on a given day many residents have no idea a home game may be taking place mere miles away.
“I always like being in a bar and finding out the Yankees are playing because the drinks are way cheaper” says James Driscoll, a 23 year-old actor living in Manhattan. He claims to have never been “too sports focused”, even growing up in New England surrounded by Boston fans he still feels no real pull towards any team in particular. When asked to name two players from both the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox, he struggled. While he successfully remembered Pedroia and Ortiz from the Red Sox, the Patriots proved to be more difficult; he rapidly listed off Tom Brady but was disappointed to learn that Randy Moss was no longer on the roster.
However, James stands at one end of the spectrum. The majority of people interviewed felt some loyalty to hometown teams. Jason Burgouin, a 28 year-old chef from Miami says that while he supported them growing up, his interest in the Dolphins increased after moving to New York. “It’s like a connection to home,” Burgouin says, and while he’ll never move back to Florida, he enjoys keeping that connection open.
Out of twenty people questioned, Jason also was one of only four who could name all nine teams without further assistance. Additionally, two people were able to name the Islanders after learning the ninth unnamed team lay within the NHL – no great surprise seeing as the Islanders consistently average the lowest attendance rate in the National Hockey League. Nine people got the eight major teams, one knew 7 and the rest of the results were sprinkled between the 3 and 6 range.
However, New York teams (with the exception of the Islanders) don’t seem to suffer. According to ESPN, the 2010 season saw both the Giants and the Jets respectively averaging 3rd and 4th highest attendance rates. The New York Knicks’ average consistently lands them in the top-ten and the Yankees have been flip-flopping between the 1and 2 spot for the past ten years – the Mets’ position seems to be more performance-based. Hockey seems to be New York’s weakest sport; the Rangers have sat comfortably below the top ten for several years now while the Devils are a good deal below that. And then of course there are the unfortunate Islanders bringing up the rear.
In a city as wide and diverse as New York, interests are obviously going to be varied within a spectrum of entertainment options, and that seems to be the case specifically within athletics as well. Unless you’re near a bar or a stadium, you may not even know there is a home game. However, that ultimately doesn’t seem to take much of a toll on the teams themselves. Evidently enough New Yorkers do care about for them to continue garnering top support around the nation.