First of a two-part story
We know there are Black sports fans, but the oft-asked question is, “Do they attend games in person?” If not, why not?
Trying to find a sensible answer to that question has eluded this longtime reporter for decades, looking high and low for Black fans while covering local sporting events. A couple of weekends ago, we once again sought an answer:
Out-of-town Black fans
A study by On Line Betting Guide USA (OLBG) that came out just before the start of the 2022 NFL season ranked such factors as average ticket prices, cost of beer, stadium capacity, and Google reviews among other factors affecting attendance and listed the top 10 best NFL stadiums for away days. The Minnesota Vikings downtown stadium was listed as the fifth-best away-day experience for visiting fans.
Does this include visiting Black fans as well? We ran into several after the Sept. 25 Minnesota-Detroit contest.
“The fans around us were great,” said Carl and Alvina Glover of Detroit. The married couple was among a group of Blacks in town to watch their hometown Lions play the Vikings.
“It’s a couple of different groups,” explained Carl. “It was eight of us sitting together. There was another group of another eight, and another group of 10.”
Despite their Lions losing a heartbreaker, Carl said the weekend wasn’t a total loss. He called it “a wonderful experience. I went to the Twins game last night. We got to go see Paisley Park, which is my dream—I’m a huge Prince fan,” he added.
More importantly, Carl said the surrounding Vikings fans “were great. They were very nice. We were bantering back and forth, but it was a friendly banter, not rude, not disrespectful in any way or shape.
“Everything was fine,” he said, but neither he nor his wife could give me an answer to why you don’t see more Blacks at NFL games at home or away.
A rare sight
Black fans at a volleyball match are a true rarity. Minnesota’s Maturi Pavilion is the longtime home for Gopher women’s volleyball. Despite a squad with four sistahs on it—and over the years some of the top Gophers have been Black females—it’s a unicorn sighting to see Blacks in the stands. But on this night, when the home team played splendidly in a 3-0 win over visiting Wisconsin, we indeed did find a few persons of color watching it.
When we asked Lex Landfair if he would be in attendance if it weren’t for his daughter playing that night, he responded, “Probably not. I’m here because of my daughter.” He and his wife Tonya were waiting for their redshirt sophomore volleyball playing daughter, Taylor Landfair, to come out of the locker room. The family hails from Illinois.
“She was in an environment where people can see that she had an all-around game,” added Tonya of the 6-5 Taylor. She encouraged her daughter to go out for the sport as a youngster, who soon added it to her repertoire.
“Taylor is very creative. She likes music. She’s a good role model. It’s important that people understand that these girls are more than just athletes,” said Tonya.
Sam McCaa was also there. The St. Paul Highland Park and Minnesota Morris grad was there to watch his daughter Gabby, a Wisconsin Badger. He likes volleyball, as do several family members also there. He couldn’t give me an answer as to why you don’t see more Blacks attending volleyball games.
“We should do everything we can to promote it,” concluded McCaa, “and encourage more young [Black] ladies to get involved.”
Next week: Sam McCaa continues our discussion on the subject.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.