Interesting read in today's Toronto Star.[url=http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1163112609996&call_pageid=968867503640&col=970081593064&t=TS_Home]http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Conten ... &t=TS_Home[/url]
NFL team gets chilly reception
50 per cent against Toronto franchise
Lack of interest in league sky-high
Nov. 10, 2006. 06:15 AM
With talk of Toronto pursuing a NFL franchise, it looks like the appetite for four-down football is much smaller than is widely believed — 50 per cent of GTA residents say they oppose bringing a team here.
According to a Toronto Star-Decima Research poll conducted late last month, 76 per cent of respondents said they had no interest at all in the NFL, the highest figure for any of the sports involved in the survey. The NBA was the next worst in that regard with 74 per cent expressing no interest in the league, while the NHL proved the most popular with 46 per cent saying they were either a hard core fan or liked the game.
Another surprise regarding potential NFL support is revealed in the breakdown of the demographics. In the age group that is thought to be widely in favour of bringing a team here (18-34), the number that oppose such a move is 50 per cent. As well, the men polled voted 42 per cent against it, and even those who described themselves as typical NFL fans were 40 per cent opposed to bringing a team here.
Bruce Anderson, CEO for Decima Research, said the research shows that the economics of an NFL team could be very challenging, depending on whether more passion for the NFL product would grow once a team came here.
"I was taken aback a little bit by the response to the idea of an NFL team, because I think historically the idea of an NFL team coming to Canada has always been one of those things where people say, `Wouldn't it be a mark of respect for Canada in some ways,'" said Anderson. "It looks like Canadians are decidedly more lukewarm about the idea and, presumably, from a number of standpoints.
"It's surprising to me in a way that that many men opposed the idea of an NFL team. I was a little surprised that the 18-34 age group wasn't more passionate about this idea. Just given who normally gets really pumped about professional sports, you'd expect that young group to be even more passionate than they were."
Anderson said it would be wrong to conclude the reaction stems from people's passion for the CFL, although he adds that it's "probably some of what's contributing to this tepid response."
He believes the overriding reason for people's reluctance to embrace the NFL is because of what it represents at a time when anti-American feelings are running high.
"There seems to be some push-back here and I think that probably has something to do with the idea that it's a decidedly American game and there are some people who are big fans of the United States and there are others who are not sure that American icons are the thing they want to embrace."
The study was conducted online with 748 GTA residents using Decima's eVox panel. Results from a sample of that size are considered accurate to within +/-3.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Raptors' uphill battle to carve out their place in the Toronto sports market is reflected in the statistics, as only 3 per cent of those polled consider themselves a hard core basketball fan. Pro tennis recorded the same percentage of hard core fans and even edged the Raptors in percentage of fans who said they liked the sport by 5 per cent, 28 to 23. Hockey had the highest percentage of hard core fans with 15 per cent, compared to 8 per cent for baseball.
The Blue Jays rated a better community image than the Raptors with 54 per cent stating Toronto's baseball franchise ranked in the excellent to very good category compared to 43 per cent in that regard for the Raptors. The Leafs led everyone with 68 per cent.
The enduring appeal of the Leafs was reflected throughout the survey and the future looks bright. Among those under 35, one in three say they are hard core fans. Among those Torontonians who have a favourite hockey team, 82 per cent say it's the Leafs, while 7 per cent cheer for the Canadiens and 3 per cent support the Senators.
"Despite not having won a championship in many years, their image in the community is almost universally positive," said Anderson.