Chicago Bears fans have long had the reputation for being one of the more loyal fan bases in the NFL. Their allegiance to their team is unwavering, and their love well documented. When football fans around the country think about Bears fans, more often than not they think of fans with an intense devotion and love for their team, no matter how delusional it may be. Besides, how many other fan bases can say that they’ve had a Saturday Night Live skit created about them?
In recent years, though, that devotion has waned a bit. Soldier Field has seen thousands of fans skip out on Bears home games, and the overall optimism surrounding the franchise has diminished. The product on the field has been subpar, and that has affected the excitement of fans.
Nevertheless, Bears fans still seem to fare better than most other NFL fan bases. A recent study by Michael Lewis of Emory University determined the best fan bases and overall team brands in the NFL, and the Bears landed in sixth. They finished behind only the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lewis notes that this ranking is one spot higher than where they were ranked last year, as they overcame the New Orleans Saints to take the sixth overall spot. The ranking consisted of multiple factors, as Lewis discussed:
I use three measures of fan engagement: Fan Equity, Social Equity and Road Equity. Fan Equity focuses on home box office revenues (support via opening the wallet). Social Media Equity focuses on fan willingness to engage as part of a team’s online community (support exhibited by joining social media communities). Road Equity focuses on how teams draw on the road after adjusting for team performance. These metrics provide a balance – a measure of willingness to spend, a measure unconstrained by stadium size and a measure of national appeal.
The Bears’ highest rank was in fan equity, in which they placed fourth. They placed twelfth in both social equity and road equity. For those interested, the Green Bay Packers were ranked ninth overall, with social equity being their only criterion in which they ranked higher than the Bears - they finished in seventh.
Admittedly, the fan equity ranking seems a little bit high, given the Bears’ struggles with selling tickets and getting fans to show up. Overall, though, it seems like a good overall ranking for the team. Even with the recent success of the Cubs and the rise of the Blackhawks dynasty, Chicago is a football city, and it has been for much of the time that it has been a host for professional sports teams. With more excitement surrounding the team than there has been in recent years, maybe the Bears’ ranking could improve even more by this time next year.