Can sports fandom save the world? Studies show it’s actually a great start
Published: October 22, 2022
By: David Sikorjak and Ben Valenta
In Fans Have More Friends, arriving on stands November 15, David Sikorjak and Ben Valenta prove through studies and unprecedented amounts of research that sports fans have more friends than non-sports fans, and value, nurture and strengthen those friendships significantly more than their peers. Sports fans are also shown to be happier, more confident and more optimistic in almost all areas of life and demonstrate lower levels of enmity towards those with opposing views. Additionally, their research shows that sports fans are more trusting of others and of institutions, providing a much-needed sense of relief and unity in an era of unparalleled polarization.
“If fandom creates connections that reverberate through society, then we need more fandom,” says Valenta. “The more confident we are in our fandom, the more conscious we are of fandom’s power, the more prepared we are to serve as ambassadors, inviting people into our sports families, using fandom to build bridges across social divisions, and activating it to benefit our communities. Think of sports as a tool you can use, and then ask yourself, ‘Where do I want to deploy this tool?’”
“You’re a sports fan, so you’re tapped into social currency that works not just with your friends, but with your dad, your sister and the guy around the corner with a Yankee hat on,” Sikorjak explains. “You can text your sister and your dad, or even just commiserate with another fan wearing a jersey on the subway. The effect of that is that it gives you an increased sense of belonging, because you can pull that tool out in a variety of situations.”
You don’t even need to be fans of the same team to bond with others—and in fact, fandom as a whole sometimes works better when interacting with fans of rival teams.
Sports fandom is a fun, fulfilling way to engage in the world around you and create social interaction. “Socialization is a good thing, and data shows that sports fandom promotes more socialization,” Sikorjak says. “Being a fan is good for you, it’s good for others, it’s good for society.”
Through their unrivaled experience studying fans, as well as data, strategy and insight, Valenta and Sikorjak demonstrate that sports fandom is a fun, fulfilling way to begin to heal some of the world’s social ills and give a glimmer of hope that things can and will, in fact, get better.
Drawing from their expertise and key insights in Fans Have More Friends, Valenta and Sikorjak are available for comment on:
- The social tools fandom provides and how to use them in a variety of situations, from friendships and family dinners to dating, the office, small talk at parties and transient relationships
- Fandom’s improvement on individual and societal wellbeing
- How fandom can help curb polarization
- How fandom can contribute a sense of belonging—and why it’s part of the cure for loneliness
- How fandom can increase individual confidence
- How fandom can nurture confidence in institutions as well as other people
- Ways fandom can help harbor more open-mindedness and trust
ABOUT DAVID SIKORJAK:
In 2017, David Sikorjak founded Dexterity Consulting, a strategy and analytics consultancy that artfully blends research, analysis, and empathy to transform how brands think. Prior to that, he was an executive at Publicis, NBC, and Madison Square Garden. A proud New Yorker, Dave is a husband, father, yogi, little league coach, and Yankees/Knicks/Jets fan.
ABOUT BEN VALENTA:
Ben Valenta is the SVP of Strategy & Analytics for FOX Sports. In his previous life as a consultant, he advised an incredible array of clients, including Nike, NFL, Anheuser-Busch InBev, YouTube, ESPN, National Geographic, MSNBC, NBC News, Livestrong, New York Knicks, and New York Rangers. He likes to surf and ride bikes and wrestle with his kids in Venice, California.