Last night the Red Sox won the World Series and we had the first hard frost of the season. Perhaps a cold winter lies ahead, but memories of the World Series will keep New Englanders warm for many weeks. And as those memories fade, new memories are being made by the New England Patriots, still undefeated, the Boston Celtics who have added Kevin Garnett to their roster, and the University of Connecticut football team, now nationally ranked, and their perennially strong men’s and women’s basketball teams. An area once known primarily for Emily Dickinson and maple syrup is emerging as an athletic powerhouse. If we can’t persuade the nation to accept our leftish politics, we can beat them up on the field.

But I’m enough of a Marxist or economic realist to ask, “Where does the money come from?” New York City is the largest city in the country with a population fifteen times larger than that of Boston. New York State has a third more people than all New England. Whence come the resources to fund this athletic prowess?

Well, notice first that The Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics have almost all New England behind them. Only in the remotest southwest corner of Fairfield County, CT, does one begin to encounter large numbers of Yankee fans. Notice also that Buffalo and Rochester are more remote from New York City than Vermont is from Boston. A Buffalovian might rather cheer for Detroit or Toronto than New York City. Note also that New Yorkers have to pay for two teams and that the Yankees and Mets together have a payroll twice that of Boston. A majority of New Yorkers may support the Yankees, but the fan base may actually be smaller – and certainly can’t compete with the Red Sox Nation for loyalty.

I did this resource for purposes of reassurance. Any team can win a series or have a winning season by a combination of fortuitous circumstances but a dynasty requires funding and the dismal science of economics rears its glittering, golden head. It’s reassuring to know that there’s something more solid behind New England’s athletic preeminence than a few lucky bounces.

If global warming continues, it may even be pleasanter to sit in the local stadia as we cheer for the best teams money can buy.

1 Comment

Richard W. WheelerOctober 29th, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Thank you, Chris, for some very penetrating and demographic observations. One element which also has some bearing is how large is your stadium. That is a primary source of revenue. It is also really a source of inspiration to see Fenway Park “sold out” for every game as opposed to so many other stadia where there are gaping holes between clusters of fans during the regular season. Now, for some speculation which team is up to paying $72 million or more for A-Rod? Go Sox!!


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