What is the most important factor in determining the teams you root for? The players on the team? The city the team is located in? Some other reason? I ask this because of something my wife noticed on tv. Not being originally from the U.S., she sometimes will notice things that most of us won't.
I had on ESPN one day and they were promoting some upcoming game they would be broadcasting and they were strongly billing it as a matchup between so and so from Team A against so and so from Team B. It was almost like those two athletes were going to be competing against each other in some sort of individual event. It seemed like they were promoting a boxing match with the way they mentioned the individuals more than the teams they played for. My wife instantly popped up and said, "Aren't there other people on those teams as well?"
Since then I have been paying more attention to how team sports are promoted and I have noticed that more often than not the individual matchups are promoted more than the teams. Now to a certain degree I can understand why you would do that when you have a couple great pitchers going against each other and you are saying that the pitching will be great, but then you see a basketball game advertised and they're billing it as This Player vs. That Player and they play that up so much you almost forget who the two players play for.
I also started looking for this in international sports as well, and I don't think I see as much of it in the promotion of some of the European soccer I watch. There is still some mention of some of the great players, but I get the impression that they promote the team more than the players and fans have a loyalty to their team first and the players second.
So I guess the question is this: Are American sports fans becoming more and more fans of the individual athletes than they are of teams? Is this a product of the frequent player movement due to free agency? Are people rooting less for teams now than they are for a favorite superstar? Don't get me wrong. There are players I like and some of them play for other teams, but I am first and foremost a Cincinnati sports fan and a fan of the players second. As much as I like Adam Dunn, I am a Reds fan first and if he ended up getting traded to another team, I wouldn't all of a sudden become a fan of that team just because he happens to be playing there, especially if he was on the Braves or the Yanks. Does anyone else think there is more of an emphasis on individual athletes now than there is on the teams, at least in the way the games are promoted by the likes of ESPN?