In New England the Red Sox are the undisputed king of all the regional sports franchises, and it’s not even close. Despite the recent championships won by the Patriots and Celtics, and solid fan support for both teams, the Sox inspire a passion and devotion that is unmatched. Even in the dead-of-winter baseball off-season the Red Sox are the talk of New England, and so-called “hot-stove” reports on the team’s happenings capture front page headlines. Chances are good that the sports-talk radio yahoos are talking Red Sox at any given time, even on a pre-game Patriots broadcast. The Sox are a 24-7-365 New England obsession, one of those things you can’t explain unless you grew up here (excluding Connecticut which is Yankee territory- at least partially).
The immense popularity of the Red Sox in New England is often explained due to Boston being a historic baseball town (the first World Series was played in the city), and while this is certainly true, I think there is a much more compelling reason: women fans. The Sox have a huge and incredibly loyal following among women, more so than for any of the other teams. At Fenway Park the crowd the gender divide is usually split 50/50, while it is usually more of a sausage-fest at Patriots, Celtics, and especially Bruins games. The talk radio yahoos sometimes like to poke fun at the “pink hat” contingent of female fans that attend Sox games, but in truth they’re generally as knowledgeable as male fans.
Although the Red Sox have a universal appeal, on the whole most Sox fans are probably older and more educated than fans of the other Boston teams. Bruins fans are mostly blue-collar and heavily concentrated in northern New England (N.H., Maine) where hockey is king. The Patriots for many years had an almost exclusively blue-collar fan base mostly on the South Shore and Rhode Island, but their tremendous success over the past decade attracted a lot of bandwagon fans. The Celtics seem to be the most urban of the Boston teams, with a big following within the Route 128/inner-Boston beltway and more minority fans overall.
I’m wondering about the fan composition of other regions- what are the most popular teams and are there certain teams known to be supported mostly by certain sub-groups? I’ve heard that the San Diego Chargers have a huge Mexican following, that (contrary to popular belief) the Sabres and not the Bills are Buffalo’s team, that San Francisco 49ers fans are a wine-and-cheese type of crowd, and that Chicago is foremost a football town.