A brand equity study applied to sports leagues by Emory University Sports Marketing Analytics has concluded that the worst fans in the NFL are Miami Dolphins fans
. The team at Emory has studied fan loyalty in the NFL and NBA over the past three seasons, taking in a number of factors including market outcomes of attendance, prices, and revenues.
Manish Tripathi, who published the study for Emory University, says “to truly understand fan engagement, it’s important to statistically control for temporary changes in the environment.” He goes on to note that this is a huge problem in sports because fans naturally tend to chase a winner. So it makes perfect sense then that the Dolphins rank so low. They have only made the playoffs once since 2001, and have only posted 4 winning seasons over that span, including 6 straight seasons of .500 or worse. But are Dolphins fans really worse than the Raiders, Bills, and Jaguars?
Not surprisingly, the biggest NFL markets seemed to lead the pack (Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, Ravens, Jets round out the top 5), and the smaller markets trend lower in the rankings. This includes the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rank 14th, even though their games consistently sell out and bright yellow “terrible” towels can be seen taking over any Steelers road game. In a 2008 article by ESPN.com that ranked the NFL’s best fans, the Steelers were ranked first
due to their incredible streak of consecutive sellouts and 6-year season ticket holder waitlist. The Dolphins ranked 28th on this list after finishing the 2007 season 1-15.
The Emory study hypothesize’s the reason for the Dolphins (and Jaguars) low ranking is due to the state they are located. “Florida is almost always a problem on our lists. Whether it is the weather or the fact that many of the locals are transplants that didn’t grow up with the team, Florida teams just don’t get the support of teams in other regions.”
What do you think about this study? Where would you rank Dolphins fans compared to other NFL fan bases? We may not have a lot of fans right now, and yes Florida is full of transplants, but I’ve never met a more passionate group of fans than those of us who have stuck through this huge drought of winning.