Evolving Demographics, Fair-Weather Atmosphere Make Washington D.C. Fans Very Unlike Boston Fans


Though they are only 450 miles apart, Boston and Washington D.C. seem to be polar opposites when it comes to each city's sports fans.

Consider the atmostphere in Boston. If you walk into just about any sports bar, you'll likely find crowds of people with their eyes glued to the TV to watch the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots or Celtics. Chances are you know someone in the establishment (probably by the name of Sully) and someone there knows you. The fans live and die with the local teams, basking in their glory during rolling-rally parades and agonizing and debating over crushing losses.

In D.C., the scene is not so similar. Walk into a sports bar and there might be some unfamiliar faces, which often depends on the most recent elections. Games will be on TV, but not everyone is tuned in to the Nationals, Capitals, Redskins and Wizards. In fact, win-loss records seem to automatically dictate attention spans.

These are some of the findings by The Washington Post as part of the newspaper's look into the culture and rooting interest of D.C. sports.

Using in-depth surveys of D.C. area residents, the Post found that the nation's capital is indeed a sports town, with 83 percent of the population saying it has an interest in the sports landscape — above the national average of 75 percent. This sports fandom doesn't appear to be as intense as Boston and other cities, though, as 26 percent of those polled characterized themselves as "drive-by fans" and another 19 percent called themselves "social fans." Only 15 percent of those polled called themselves "megafans."

This passive-aggressive approach is partly due to the fact that D.C.'s population demographics fluctuate with each election cycle, as many move to the area for work purposes only.

"I just dont care about the Washington Nationals, I don't care about the Washinton Redskins," said Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio. "You move to a new city, you don't give up your allegiance to your hometown team, for gosh sake."

This lack of a united front explains why you might be just as likely to see a Tom Brady jersey as you are to see a Rex Grossman jersey — TB's three Super Bowl wins and career stats may have something to do with that, too, however.

As with any city, a team's success helps dictate popularity, but it's especially so in D.C. While the Red Sox continue to remain relevant in Boston even in the midst of their organizational turnover, the Nationals struggle to maintain interest in D.C. because of their seven consecutive losing seasons. Meanwhile, the Capitals' winning ways have D.C. fans buzzing, with 72 percent of locals calling themselves Caps fans.

"There's definitely a sense that if there's a cool team to root for or a cool place to be, that team is going to get attention, whether people grew up rooting for them or not," said Nate Ewell, the former head of PR for the Capitals.

The Post's findings brought out mixed reactions from readers, with some arguing the results were inaccurate and others admitting the findings were dead on.

What do you think? Is D.C. really a mediocre sports town as the Post seems to indicate? Or is our nation's capital more similar to Boston than we think?

© 2017 NESN