Study finds gender and sexuality predict sports fandom

Tue. February 2, 2021 9:36 AM by Kevin Wayne

los angeles rams at detroit lions, 12/2/2018

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Gay men are half as likely to identify as passionate sports fans compared to straight men, a new study suggests.

A new survey of nearly 4,000 American adults found that about 60% of straight men in the survey identified as passionate sports fans, compared to 30% of gay men. About 40% of both heterosexual women and lesbians reported being passionate sports fans.

“Sports fandom is an ingrained part of our culture and central in the lives of many people,” said Chris Knoester, co-author of the study and associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

The study, published this week in the Sociology of Sport Journal, was led by Rachel Allison, associate professor of sociology at Mississippi State University.

"One of the advantages of the survey data in this study is that it has a relatively large sample of individuals who identify as a sexual minority or as nonbinary in terms of their gender identity, which has not been the case in most previous studies," Allison said.

"It allowed us to show that white heterosexual men are particularly likely to identify as strong sports fans, there are substantial numbers of people across the gender and sexual identities who are also passionate fans.”

About 27% of those surveyed identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or a sexual identity other than heterosexual. About 3% of respondents identified as nonbinary.

The survey also indicated that people who said they were mistreated or bullied in sports-related interactions were less likely to be sports fans as adults.