Here are the 6 reasons we believe make it Numbah 1:
Bobby Orr flies through the air after scoring the 1970 Stanley Cup-winning goal. Kevin McHale clotheslines Laker Kurt Rambis in the 1984 NBA Finals. Keith Foulke leaps heavenward as he ends the 2004 World Series. Malcolm Butler picks off a pass to save Super Bowl XLIX.
Not to mention Tom Brady helping the Patriots win 6 Superbowls and taking the them to the playoffs 9, that is right 9 times!
There’s no question great moments are one of the reasons why Boston is regarded as one of the great sports cities in America. But are they the only reasons? Or are there other factors—that have nothing to do with winning and losing—that make Boston the greatest sports city?
Let’s get the most obvious reason out of the way. Fans like winning. This century Boston has won more championship titles (12) in the big four professional sports (baseball, football, basketball, and ice hockey) than any other U.S. city this century. And each team has won at least one title. When you look at the all-time list of sports titles, only New York has won more than Boston (New York also has two teams in each sport, and its two football teams play in New Jersey. But we digress).
More proof of “fandemonium” in Boston? The Red Sox set a Major League Baseball record with a sellout streak at Fenway Park of 820 games. And if you want to purchase season tickets to the New England Patriots, don’t expect it to happen in this lifetime. The waiting list is said to be more than 50,000 strong.
New England is steeped in history, right? Well, so are New England’s sports teams, whose fanbases cut across generations. The Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots all have roots that go back to the earliest days of their leagues. That means kids who are fans today have parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who were rooting 50 years ago or more, just like they are now.
Tradition kindles passion. “Boston is unique because you have four major teams that each go back to the origins of their particular leagues,” says
The Red Sox were founded in 1901, the Bruins in 1924, the Celtics in 1946, the Patriots in 1960.
Boston has always blended tradition and innovation. “When the current Red Sox ownership group came in, they realized Fenway Park was the greatest asset we had,” says Isenberg alumnus Chris Valente, director of sales at Fenway Sports Management. “We had to make changes while maintaining this Crown Jewel.”
Now Fenway has become a 12-month venue for multiple events rather than just baseball games. “We’ve used Fenway for Bruce Springsteen concerts, The Winter Classic, Notre Dame football, and other events,” Valente says. “The Harvard-Yale football game will be happening here next season. We’re always looking to open up access to Fenway in ways that respect its rich tradition.”
New Englanders relocate to other parts of the country like everybody else. But they never lose their emotional connection to the region’s teams, no matter where they are living. Sports can bring the entire community together, far beyond the latest Duck Boat celebration. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened years back, we saw people rallying around the Red Sox, using the team as a way to feel a sense of connectedness during tough times.
Fans also express individual identity through sports. A highly identified fan actually sees the team as part of their in-group.
New England sports fans have long celebrated superstars in all four sports. We’ve been blessed with absolutely iconic sports figures, including Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, Red Auerbach, Ted Williams, Big Papi, and so many more. There are big U.S. sports markets that simply haven’t had those rich sports personalities.
But, as fans know, their passion can also make Boston a tough place for stars. Boston fans expect you to be part of the family and to understand the town’s rich history. If you’ve done great things elsewhere, you still start from scratch here. It can be a ruthless environment for players who came up in markets that don’t live, eat and breathe sports, as Boston does.
The only thing better than watching the game is talking about it afterwards. If you’re not happy with the way the game went, you can go right to Twitter and start blasting away at individual athletes or the coach or the team. As a result, social media has increased the need for teams and athletes to respond to what fans think.
And in Boston, a tech-savvy city chock full of millennials and college students, all you have to do to see the passion is check Twitter during a humdrum regular season game, never mind a playoff contest, where you’ll see fans spouting off on every foul, run, touchdown, penalty, and goal.
Forbes ranked the top 20 sports franchises from around the world in social media followers and found the New England Patriots ranked 13th with more than 10 million (European soccer clubs dominated the list). In baseball, only the Yankees top the Red Sox in Facebook fans.
The Patriots have always been exploring new digital tools and technologies. The team was the first professional sports team to have an official team website, Patriots.com, which began back in 1994. Today, they use a variety of digital and social media platforms to reach Patriots fans around the world year-round.
Digital media also offers sports marketers new opportunities to engage fans. With digital technologies, they get so much data about how fans engage. All this data allows teams and marketers to create behavioral profiles of types of fans, enabling more personalized communication.
So what will the future of sports in Boston look like? Imagine virtual reality allowing all sports fans to experience a Red Sox game as if they were there, on the field at Fenway. Or what if a camera inside Mac Jones helmet allowed fans to see the field at the same time he sees it, or a camera inside Marcus Smarts’ Celtics jersey let fans go up with him on a slam dunk.
In the meantime let’s get that 13 Championship for Boston Go Celtics!
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