Die-Hard Fans and the Ivory Tower's Ties that Bind
© 2015 by the Southwestern Social Science Association. Objective: This study examines extremely loyal fans of prominent American college sports teams. It seeks to find out how common they are and what their characteristics are. Methods: The study defines die-hard fans as those whose published obituaries both note this loyalty and mention the team name for a specific university. A sample of such fans associated with 26 universities is compared to individuals picked at random from obituaries from the same states. Other comparisons employ data on political-party registration. Results: Such fans are uncommon, making up only about 2 percent of adults whose obituaries are published. They tend to have been predominantly male and, compared to otherwise similar adults, had higher rates of college attendance, were more likely to be white, more likely to affiliate with mainline Protestant denominations but also more likely to have no religious affiliation, volunteered more often as coaches, and had a registered affiliation to some political party. Conclusion: As a group, they represent an important link between the "common man" and the bastions of intellectual activity that are America's research universities. As illustration, many more die-hard fans were linked to their universities by way of state residence than by attendance. And many of them had blue-collar occupations or never went to college.
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