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Seahawks fans are just average, academic says

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It’s the final day of June, which means that not only has the summer solstice passed, allowing each day to be ever so slightly shorter than the last, but it also means Monday is the first day of July. That, of course, is important for multiple reasons, but mostly because NFL training camps start in July meaning fans are weeks away from real NFL news to peruse, follow and become excited about.

In the meantime, fans have to make due with what they can, and as our own Tyler Alsin noted on Sunday, July is prime time for strange off field injuries that could severely impact a team’s season. Hopefully readers of Field Gulls will stay safe over the holiday week whether staying at home, traveling, working or relaxing. However, looking past the safety of fans, let’s take a peek at the rankings of fan bases according to one academic who reviewed all 32 NFL fan bases on multiple criteria and see where the Seattle Seahawks fall.

The academic who did the review is Michael Lewis, MS MBA PhD, who is a professor of marketing at Emory University in Atlanta. In order to conduct his analysis and determine which teams had the best fans and which teams had the worst fans, he looked at several different factors. Specifically, (Author’s note: Bolding is that of Mr. Lewis, not mine.)

My approach to evaluating fan bases uses data on attendance, revenues, social media following and road attendance to develop statistical models of fan interest (more details here). The key is that the models are used to determine which city’s fans are more willing to spend or follow their teams after controlling for factors like market size and short-term changes in winning and losing.

It is unlikely to come as much of a surprise to anyone, but four of the top five teams in his rankings play in some of the largest media markets in the United States. Further, three of the top four teams play in the major market NFC East, with the fourth member of that division, the Washington Redskins, coming in at eleventh. As he notes in the tweet, the top five teams are the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.

One the flip side, as noted in the above tweet, the bottom of the ranks are brought up by the Cincinnati Bengals, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tennessee Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams. I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence either that these teams are predominantly in smaller markets, with three of the five teams either being one of the more recent locations to gain an NFL franchise.

That said, the fact that the Rams are at the absolute bottom after having first left Los Angeles in the mid-90s only to return twenty years later is not much of a surprise. Perhaps a third straight playoff season in 2019 will finally bring out some fans in the city that care about the team, but for now they remain an unloved team in the second largest market in the United States.

Getting back to the Seahawks, however, the Hawks came in at just above average in the analysis. Of the three categories that were ranked, Seattle came in 18th in Fan Equity (a measure of how much fans are willing to spend at home games), 8th in Social Equity (a measure of how active fans of the team are on social media) and 24th in Road Equity (measuring how well fans of the team travel). Basically, the Hawks ranked as just below average in two of three categories, except for a top quartile finish in the social department.

In short, the fact that the Seattle fans come in slightly above average seems it may be in a material way attributable to Seahawks Twitter and the level of engagement of Hawks fans on that social media platform. Thus, for all those members of Seahawks Twitter, it may be time to reward oneself with a big pat on the back.