Fair-weather fans are regularly derided for only supporting their team during successful times, and for not being as supportive when their teams go through unsuccessful periods or severe defeats. For this reason, WSN set out to discover which state’s teams have the most loyal fans and who has the most negative sports fans in the major four professional leagues. Our study revealed that Arizona is one of the states with the biggest increase in negativity towards their teams after a loss vs after a win, with Phoenix Suns fans being the most negative in the state.
What we did: We used an academic tool known as SentiStrength to explore the emotional tones of more than 100,000 fans comments in response to the wins and losses of the teams they follow during the 2020/2021 season. SentiStrength measures the tone of a short piece of text and categorizes it as either positive, neutral, or negative. This allowed us to analyze how much more positive or negative each fan base becomes after a loss compared to after a win, based on the emotions detected within the fans’ comments on their team’s official Facebook fan page.
We calculated the difference between the percentage of negative comments and positive comments when losing compared to when winning for each team in different US states, to find the changes in fans’ attitudes (more positive or more negative) depending on the final result. You can find the full methodology at the end of this email.
Our research revealed that:
• Arizona is home to the teams who experience some of the most negativity aimed towards them from fans after a team loss. in total, negativity increased by 40% after loss vs after a win. This makes Arizona the state with the third most fair-weather fans in the U.S.
• Phoenix Suns is the team in Arizona that has the most negative fans in defeat with an increase of 46% after a loss vs. after a win.
• See the full breakdown of all the teams here.
“Fans of just about every team believe that fans of their team are the most loyal and dedicated supporters in sport. But in reality, fan groups can differ in their level of loyalty, as well as the likelihood that they engage in fair-weather fandom,” said Dr. Dan Wann.
We looked at the teams from the major sports leagues in Arizona to find the teams with the biggest fair-weather fans. We measured fair-weather fans on the change in positive and negative comments after their team loses compared to when they win. Teams that see a greater increase in negative comments and a greater decrease in positive comments from their fans after losing indicate that they have greater fair-weather support.
Here is an example to illustrate this ranking:
Phoenix Suns’ fans are very supportive when their team wins with 62% of social media comments being positive and only 12% showing negativity towards the team. However, when the Suns lose, the positive comments drop to only 40%. This is a 22% decrease from one outcome to the other. On top of this, their negative comments almost tripled when the team lost, going all the way up to 35% of negative comments which is almost 24% more negative comments than when winning. By combining the decrease in positive comments (22%) and the increase in negative comments (24%) we get the difference in fan attitude towards their team when losing vs winning which in the Phoenix Suns case is a 46% difference.
This makes the Phoenix Suns’ fans the most negative fans in defeat of any of the big four league teams in Arizona.
• Phoenix Suns saw the biggest increase in negativity after a loss compared to the rest of the Arizona teams (46% increase). The Cardinals also saw a big increase (43%).
• Coyotes and Diamondbacks saw a very small increase in negativity, suggesting these teams have more supportive fans.
The Top 10 US locations which teams have the most negative sports fans
We also looked at the teams of different US states to find which states teams have the biggest fair-weather fans.
• Fans of teams based in the District of Columbia become the least supportive after losing. Both the Capitals, Nationals and the Wizards saw a large increase in negativity after a loss vs after a win which gives the capital a total increase in negativity after a loss vs after a win of 43%. This makes D.C the US location with the biggest fair weather fans.
• Wisconsin follows closely after with an increase in negativity of 42% towards the teams as both the Brewers, the Packers and the Bucks all experience a large increase in negativity after a loss.
• Arizona comes in a shared third with North Carolina with an increase in negativity of 40%.