How High Profile Fans Can Impact a Sports Franchise
Updated: Jan 18
Sports franchises are driven by their fans as they are the reason why franchises have ticket sales, employees, merchandise, and sponsorships. Having the power of a high profile fan as a part of your franchise is incredibly impactful. Across various sports leagues such as the NBA, MLB, and NCAA, high profile celebrities are diehard fans for their teams and can uniquely impact the franchise.
Starting off with the NBA, as the only NBA team in Canada, the Toronto Raptors are highly patriotic but you cannot think of the city of Toronto without thinking of the Raptors and Drake. Drake is a Toronto-born rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, and entrepreneur. Being a hometown kid, he grew up being a highly involved Raptors fan. However, Drake is more than a fan as he has been the Raptors' official “Global Ambassador” since 2013. Drake agreed to a Raptors partnership deal with his lifestyle brand October’s Very Own (OVO). According to the Variety, Drake’s involvement with the Raptors can be seen through many aspects of the team. He helped design an alternate jersey featuring his brand OVO, renamed their practice center the OVO Athletic Centre, hosted an annual event called, “Drake Night”, that dedicates one game of every season to all things Drake, and he even has his own stall in the locker room. Drake’s admiration for the Toronto Raptors has a great impact on the franchise as it combines the fans of music with the fans of sports to create a celebration of Toronto.
Another high profile fan that is familiar throughout the NBA is Spike Lee for the New York Knicks. Spike Lee is well known as one of the greatest American film directors. He is the creative mastermind behind legendary films like “She’s Gotta Have it” and “Do the Right Thing”. However, his resume as a Knicks fan is just as impressive. According to The Knicks Wall, Lee’s fandom began sixty years ago in 1960 as a young kid living in Brooklyn. Spike idolized the Knicks. Over the past 35 years, he has spent over $10 million on his season tickets. Lee fully embodies the typical New York fan as he is both loyal and very critical. He’ll show up to every game with a loud voice to demonstrate his passion in front of the entire city. It is hard to think about a Knicks game without expecting Spike Lee sitting courtside showing his passion for the game and the franchise.
Patrick Mahomes is another high profile fan who has positively impacted a sports franchise but has recently taken it one step further by becoming a partial owner of the Kansas City Royals. Mahomes is an MVP quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs and just led his team to a Super Bowl win in 2020. As the son of a Major League Baseball Player, Mahomes has a passion for the sport of baseball so much so that he has become a part-owner of the Kansas City Royals. According to Sportscasting, this made him the youngest owner in pro sports. However it wasn’t about setting records, both the Royals and Mahomes expressed the importance of making a positive impact on Kansas City.
Phil Knight is the CEO of Nike, one of the most profitable athletic companies in history. Knight, a Portland native, has always had a love for the Oregon Ducks and attended the University of Oregon for his undergrad degree. He expresses an extreme passion for the school and its sports. He has provided new uniforms every four years, a new baseball field, a new basketball arena, and a new academic center for athletes, according to Bleacher Report. Phil Knight’s great impact on the Oregon Ducks can be seen through the connection he has with his alma mater as he is often referred to as ‘Uncle Phil’ by the students, faculty, and fans.
Matthew McConaughey is known as one of the best actors and producers in America. However, he is also often recognized for his involvement with his alma mater, The Texas Longhorns. McConaughey expresses his fandom as he is a regular on the sidelines of his Texas Longhorns during football season. He has a positive impact on the Longhorns athletic department as a whole. Recently he has taken his devotion one step further by filling the role of ‘Minister of Culture’ for the school’s new basketball arena. According to USA Today, through his role as ‘Minister of Culture’, he will help create a fan experience unlike any other.
High-profile fans have the power to positively impact their favorite sports franchises and become a recognizable aspect of the team.