In an article that throws out a number of reasons why Los Angeles doesn’t seem to be as disappointed as other places when their sports teams don’t do well, a sociologist cites the factor of decentralization:
Sports fans in L.A. are more likely than those in other cities to come from somewhere else, bringing their old loyalties with them, diluting our civic passion.
“L.A. is very diversified and decentralized,” said David Halle, a UCLA sociologist who studies big-city culture. “That’s part of the whole zeitgeist.”
It’s different in, say, Boston, where books are written about how entrenched New England families pass the Red Sox and Celtics down through generations.
It is intriguing that decentralization is cited as a reason for lower levels of sports loyalty. The Los Angeles region is well-known for its sprawling landscape with a number of residential and economic nodes. Does this mean that there is a less cohesive civic feeling, using sports loyalty as a proxy for this, in Los Angeles compared to other places? Is this true of all places with pronounced sprawl?
There is an image (and rightfully so) of Los Angeles as the place where millions of Americans went to in the mid 20th century for the climate, the stars, and above all, economic opportunities. So is this the case in other American cities that have had a large influx of people, particularly other cities in the South and West that have grown in the last 60 years? Does Atlanta or Charlotte or Houston have similar lower levels of sports loyalties? I assume this might be the case in Florida and Arizona with a large number of retirees. But over time, wouldn’t there be a base of native Los Angeles residents who are loyal to local teams?