Some area residents, of course, go through a conversion process of sorts. After a decade, they might begin to accept the local teams and then, once they have children who grow up in the area, finally embrace them.
“Baseball’s about where you grow up; I can’t force my kids to be Dodgers fans,” said NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, a native of Los Angeles who is now a fan of the Nationals and Capitals. “For my kids, this is the air they breathe. There’s no question that they’re Washington sports fans.”
For others, a change of loyalties is an impossibility.
“I just don’t care about the Washington Nationals, I don’t care about the Washington Redskins,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in a recent ESPN radio appearance. “You move to a new city, you don’t give up your allegiance to your hometown team, for gosh sake.”
Which is why virtually all the local pro sports teams are courting a minority audience, even on their home turf. Of area pro football fans, just 48 percent say the Redskins are their favorite team, according to the poll, which was conducted in late August.
Of area baseball fans, 51 percent support either the Nationals or the Orioles, while 16percent favor either the Yankees or the Red Sox. Of area basketball fans, 29 percent choose the Wizards as their favorite team, with a stunning 14 percent identifying the Los Angeles Lakers and 9 percent the Boston Celtics. Of area soccer fans, 42 percent say D.C. United is their favorite professional team.
“In D.C., because of its very nature of changing administrations, you have a new influx of people that come into jobs that change every four years,” said Matt Williams, a vice president with Maroon PR and longtime official with Washington Sports and Entertainment, an area sports ownership group. “For a professional sports team, that really requires a lot of hard work to capture those fans, as opposed to them coming to see the other team.”
‘We’re fair-weather fans’
Washington’s pro teams have mostly been a wasteland of ruined seasons and unmet expectations for two decades, since the Redskins won the third of their three Super Bowls. Of U.S. cities with NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB franchises, only Minneapolis-St. Paul has waited longer for a title, and that is by a matter of months.