Must See Graph – sports and politics

Last week, professional athletes boycotted scheduled games to draw attention to racial injustice and police misconduct – sparked by the Jacob Blake Shooting in Kenosha Wisconsin. First round playoffs games in the NBA, regular season WNBA, some baseball games and MLS soccer were all boycotted.    

The graph below highlights the politics of sports fans.  On the vertical axis, the propensity of fans to turnout and vote.  On the horizontal axis, the partisan leanings of sports fans.  The size of the circles represent the relative proportions of fans following these sports.    

Let’s look at the NFL.  American Football is the largest fan base, skews slightly Republican and exhibits modestly high turnout levels.  Now, consider the NBA.  A relatively large fan base, skews Democrat and falls just short of average turnout levels. 

The MLS is a comparatively smaller fan base. And, fans are significantly less likely to turnout than other major sports.  Finally, the WNBA.  Those that follow the league skew strongly Democrat and just above the voter turnout midpoint. 

Take a good look.   Pick out your favorite sport, consider the politics of the day and the politics within the sport.  This graph helps you put those pieces together.   

2 thoughts on “Must See Graph – sports and politics

  1. Interesting Mark. The participation of athletics and the party preferences. It would be interesting to see about soccer fans in Europe. But the situation is so different that party affiliations would be hard to interpret. It is interesting to see the growing politicalization of sports and one wonders if the intentional politicization of various groups by the recent administration has promoted more such actions as a counter. The growing participation of vigilante style groups reacting to protest. As the tear gas increases so does the difficulty in visualizing the actual dynamic of various protests. I guess that will be the deciding question of the forth coming election.

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    1. Yes, I too thought this was an intriguing graph. And, as athletes increasingly participate in political dialogue, and use their significant platforms to influence political behavior, a great deal more data and charts will likely emerge linking politics and sports. I would in fact like to see international soccer fan politics connected to political participation — will keep my eye out for such data. Finally, the question of whether the current administration intentionally politicized groups to produce counter mobilization is something I have yet to consider. Perhaps. I certainly agree that politicization occurred as a tactic to win approval from base supporters. Not certain the administration envisioned the boycotts and support across various professional leagues we witnessed last week. If players are actually able to open up their stadiums to voters, that could attract a significant number of people that may otherwise not vote — and that could be important in swing states. Thanks

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