As part of an ongoing series of research into how consumers engage and identify with brands, Researchscape International surveyed 1,112 U.S. adults about satisfaction with the National Football League, perceptions of teams and quarterbacks, engagement with professional football, and their own sports superstitions and those of others.

Just under half of respondents (44%) confess to taking certain actions to help the team they are rooting for win. The three most common superstitions involve watching the game with certain people (20%), wearing specific clothing (17%), and actively watching the game (10%). Fewer than one out of ten respondents worry about jinxes (avoiding saying certain things), while almost as many must eat or drink specific items.

When it comes to attitudes towards their effect on their teams’ fortunes:

  • 21% of respondents are at least slightly paranoid their actions at home before watching a game might affect the team they root for;
  • 19% are at least slightly afraid starting or stopping a behavior while watching a game might affect the outcome;
  • 16% are at least slightly fearful that a companion’s behavior watching a game can influence their team’s results.

Fans who had any level of paranoia or fearfulness about their impact on their team were classified as superstitious for purposes of this study (27% of respondents).

Fans of the Buffalo Bills were the most superstitious fans (34%), followed by fans of the Miami Dolphins (33%), the Pittsburgh Steelers (32%), and the New York Jets and the Green Bay Packers (both 31%).

The least superstitious fans were those of the Cleveland Browns (22%), of the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots (both 24%).

Only 35% of respondents are very or completely satisfied with the NFL. The superstitious are more satisfied with the NFL than the unsuperstitious: 45% of the superstitious are very or completely satisfied with the league, compared to only 30% of the unsuperstitious. Such superstitions are a form of emotional engagement with their teams and, accordingly, with the league.

The top three drivers of satisfaction with the NFL are the entertainment value of the games (#1), the competitive parity of the teams (#2), and the team’s observance of the rules (#3). Other drivers were the NFL’s handling of off-field issues (#6) and its care for player safety (#7); in both cases, the superstitious are more satisfied than the unsuperstitious.

When it comes to Super Bowl 50, 32% of the unsuperstitious don’t care who wins, compared to 21% of the superstitious. You can download this free study, Sports Superstitions & The Big Game: How American Fans Believe They Influence Their Team’s Chances, here:

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Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.