Published on September 8, 2015 by Darin White  

Researchers asked who had "the greatest single influence" on your first choice to become a fan of your favorite team? Here is what they found:

  • The influence of fathers on fandom is massive for both men and women! Males cite dads 14 times more than moms while females cites dads 5 times more often (Krulwich)
  • One out of ten males report that their brother(s) was the primary influence.
  • 8.6% of females were primarily influenced by their husband/boyfriend, while 0% of males were primarily influenced by their wife/girlfriend.
  • Almost twice as many females (14.6%) as males (8.0%) became a fan of a school oriented team because they attended the school.
  • A mother's influence on fandom is way down the list for both males and females. Even the "media" played a more significant role than dear old mom.
  • Almost half of females and males report that a male figure (dad, husband, brother, etc) was the primary influence on their fandom.

So why do dads have so much influence on our sports fandom? Robert Krulwich with NPR says its because its one of the only ways kids can emotionally connect with their dad. "Dads are more emotionally remote than moms, except when they're watching sports, and that's the crack in the ice that kids naturally choose to exploit. If Dad laughs, cries and high fives about the Red Sox, his kids are going to use the Red Sox to laugh, cry and high-five with him."

Stay tuned for more.... several of my students are working on research that further digs into this topic and will be presenting their findings in the days to come.

Sports Influencers

Written by: Darin W. White, Ph.D.


How We Become Sports Fans: The Tyranny of Fathers, by Robert Krulwich, retrieved from