Richmond's reputation as a sports-indifferent city has been bolstered in the most recent issue of Men's Health magazine.
Men's Health surveyed 100 cities in search of “America's Top Sports Towns.” Richmond comes in at No. 92, earning a place among America's “least-sports obsessed cities,” according to the magazine. Richmond's sports grade is a D minus.
The ranking further establishes Richmond's lack of sports enthusiasm as recently evidenced by the city's wavering about a new baseball stadium — Shockoe Bottom, the Boulevard, Manchester? — for a minor league baseball team.
Is the ranking a fair assessment of local sports sentiment?
“It's the criteria they use,” says Jon Lugbill, executive director of Richmond Sports Backers. “If they used how many professional sports there are, Richmond would be pretty low, but if they used how active the population is, Richmond would be pretty high on the list.”
To Lugbill's point, the survey's statistics focused on merchandising sales, tickets sold and viewership of ESPN — but the focus is on the major, mainstream sports.
The rankings seem to have no discernable big-city or professional-team bias, however, with cities such as Anchorage, Alaska, and Aurora, Colo. ranking in the Top 10 while cities such as New York and Philadelphia ranking below 80. Arlington, Texas, is named the most sports-obsessed city in the United States, with Miami finishing last. Nearby Norfolk also was given a D minus, and ranks 90th overall.
The magazine compiled statistics on television and radio ratings along with fan attendance of local high-school, collegiate and professional sports and NASCAR. The magazine then collected data to track team apparel and zealousness of cities' fan bases.
The rankings raise a few questions, too. For example, Richmond's NASCAR obsession ranks 88th among the 100 cities surveyed.