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Where Does Our Loyalty for Sports Teams Develop?

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs - Game Four
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I had the chance to give a presentation to 5th graders at Discovery Elementary in Sioux Falls, and the teams that the kids support kind of surprised me.

It was a great opportunity to go out to Discovery and talk to 5th graders about everything that is coming up in their lives. Our discussion involved the change of going to middle school (losing recess) and sports. When I opened up the opportunity for the kids to ask questions, I was first met with a pretty standard one.

“Who do you think will win the NBA Finals?”

I didn’t hold back on my answer and I told them that I thought Golden State would win in six or seven games. The surprise is what happened next. I heard a defining roar at first of support, and a couple of kids even took it upon themselves to show me the Golden State gear they were wearing.

So what about the other sports? That question was followed up with someone asking me who my favorite football team was. As soon as I said that I’m a Vikings fan (thanks in part to my friends when I was in elementary school), I was unmercifully booed. That surprised me considering how many Vikings fans we do have around here. The kids shouted their teams and the common ones I heard were the Packers and Patriots.

My parents were both born and raised on Long Island, New York. I was born out there, but I moved to Sioux Falls at a very young age. The support has always been for the Yankees (and even the Mets) for as long as I can remember. That’s always been my MLB team. I figured I would get the same treatment from the kids when I said I was a Yankees fan…but it was opposite. They cheered.

All of this really made me think of where fan loyalty develops today when it comes to kids around that age. It appears that the “winners” at the time outweigh potential family traditions and/or location. But maybe it has slightly always been that way.

When I was that young (late 90s/early 00s) I remember most of us being fans of the local market teams. The Vikings were the most popular team around with their success from the 1998 season until 2001. Twins baseball then boomed with playoff runs from 2002-2004. The difference was when it came to basketball the most popular team was the LA Lakers. I still have friends that are Lakers fans today. Better yet, I know more Lakers fans than Timberwolves fans.

My “discovery” at Discovery Elementary today is that fan loyalty for kids around that age appears to be catered more-so to who is winning at the time. Then let the standard sports cycle happen.

Granted, team loyalty can certainly change over the years. I know I’ve made a switch at least once in my life (Cheered for the Red Wings in the mid to late 90s and now I’m partial to the Wild).

But, as of now, the youth at Discovery Elementary is all in on teams like the Warriors, Cavaliers, Packers, and Patriots.

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