Ruinsky: The best fans? You make the call

sruinsky@newsobserver.comMay 1, 2014 

As sports editor at The News & Observer, I answer phone calls about whether the sports section favors N.C. State, UNC, Duke or the Canes. Before that, I worked in New York and answered phone calls about whether a different sports section favored the Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders or Devils.

My answer in both cases is that no newspaper can afford to take sides. That’s the fans’ job.

But why do fans choose their teams?

In baseball, it seems a team’s success can be a powerful persuader. In a graphic researched by N.C. State alum Josh Katz that ran in The New York Times on Sunday, a map of the United States was overlaid with fans’ favorite baseball teams, based on their likes on Facebook. (You can see the online version at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/24/upshot/facebook-baseball-map.html#7,40.985,-78.946 )

As a longtime Mets fan, it was surprising to see how the Yankees dominated the entire state of New York, including the neighborhoods surrounding the Mets’ stadium, Citi Field, in Queens. Back in New York, we used to think of Queens and Long Island as Mets country. Apparently, not anymore. Katz’ research shows almost every section of New York City skewing at around 60 percent for the Yankees.

The story that accompanied the Times’ graphic quoted fans saying the Yankees’ surge is a matter of winning and losing. The Mets have not won the World Series since 1986. Granted, they may not win a World Series by 2086. It would be fun to follow a winner. But is that a good reason to switch teams?

It’s hard to imagine fans of State, Duke, Carolina or the Hurricanes changing who they root for based on win-loss record.

It’s always great to hear from true fans. That’s who I hear from when I pick up the phone these days.

Ruinsky: 919-843-4530

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