Mar
31
2011

Final Four Roundball Rankings

It’s a grand weekend for college basketball as this year’s Final Four teams head into Houston to crown a national champion.  The national semifinals pit two upstarts (Butler vs. VCU) and two national powerhouses (Kentucky vs. Connecticut) competing for a chance at glory.

With college hoops in the spotlight over the past several weeks, we wondered about the overall health and interest in the sport as measured by basketball related participation and purchase rates.

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), 67% of core basketball participants are under 25 years old. Basketball far outnumbers baseball as the team sport with the greatest participation rate. SGMA estimates that there are over 26 million people age 6 or over who participate in basketball. Among these, nearly 17 million (frequent or regular participants) are classified as core participants.

Given that core participants are more likely to purchase basketball-related equipment, we compared various basketball-related statistics for the home markets of the Final Four teams using data compiled by Experian Simmons. Ranked by total DMA adult population, the markets and their respective universities are: Indianapolis (Butler), Hartford (Connecticut), Richmond (VCU), and Lexington (Kentucky).

Richmond, Virginia is for (Basketball) Lovers

Analysis of viewing statistics reinforces the famous “Virginia is for Lovers” advertising slogan albeit with a college basketball slant.

About a quarter of the U.S. population has an interest in college basketball. Richmond (26.7%) and Indianapolis (26.3%) are the Final Four markets with the highest level of interest. Lexington and Hartford will need overtime to decide a winner. These markets are tied at 24.3%.

Richmond and Indianapolis also take top honors for following the tournament. Based on viewership data from last year’s tournament, both markets had 15.8% of adults who indicated that they watched either some or all of the tournament games. Hartford was next in line with 14.6% of adults who watched. Lexington (13.5%) ranked fourth.

Rankings for viewing last year’s championship game follow the same order as general viewership of the tournament. Richmond (13.5%) and Indianapolis (13.3%) again claimed the top spots. Hartford and Lexington ranked third and fourth with 12.4% and 10.8% of adults indicating that they watched the game respectively.

IndianapolisHartfordRichmondLexingtonTotal U.S.
Interest in College Basketball26.3 %

(2)

24.3 %

(tie 3)

26.7 %

(1)

24.3 %

(tie 3)

25.4 %
Watched Last Year’s Tournament15.8 %

(tie 1)

14.6 %

(2)

15.8 %

(tie 1)

13.5 %

(3)

16.3 %
Watched Last Year’s Championship Game13.3 %

(2)

12.4 %

(3)

13.5 %

(1)

10.8 %

(4)

13.7 %
Average
Rank
1.72.71.03.3
Note: Rank among Final Four markets is in parenthesis

Indianapolis ‘Raises the Game’ in Basketball Participation

The Indianapolis tourism slogan “Raising the Game” could also be applied to area resident participation in basketball and sales of basketball related equipment.

Richmond (16.7%), Indianapolis (16.6%), and Lexington (16.4%) are the Final Four markets that have the highest basketball participation rates (played basketball in the past year). Even with the past success of the men’s and women’s college basketball programs at Connecticut, Hartford (14.7%) is a relatively distant fourth.

You are most likely to find true basketball enthusiasts (I personally play basketball “every chance I get”) in Lexington (3.6%), Richmond (3.5%), and Indianapolis (3.4%). As before, Hartford (2.2%) lags behind.

Even though they might not be actively playing the sport quite as much as their Final Four counterparts, you are more likely to find a basketball in the garage or closet of a Hartford area resident compared to the national average. Rankings of having a basketball are Indianapolis (18.4%) in first followed by Hartford (18.2%), Richmond (17.7%), and Lexington (17.6%) respectively.

You are most likely to find true basketball enthusiasts (I personally play basketball “every chance I get”) in Lexington (3.6%), Richmond (3.5%), and Indianapolis (3.4%). As before, Hartford (2.2%) lags behind.

How closely do sales of basketballs and basketball shoes follow each market’s relative participation in the sport? Somewhat surprisingly, purchase rates for basketballs in all four markets are below the national average of 1.8%. Lexington (1.5%), Hartford (1.4%), and Indianapolis (1.3%) are tightly bunched together. The purchase rate in Richmond (0.9%) is the lowest of the Final Four markets.

What Richmond area residents might lack in basketball purchases is made up for in sales of basketball shoes. Richmond area residents rank second in basketball shoe purchases with 6.4% of adults reporting that they made a purchase in the past year. Hartford (5.7%) and Lexington (5.2%) rank third and fourth respectively. That leaves Indianapolis residents (6.8%) as the top basketball shoe purchasers among the Final Four markets.

IndianapolisHartfordRichmondLexingtonTotal U.S.
Played Basketball (in the past year)16.6 %

(2)

14.7 %

(4)

16.7 %

(1)

16.4 %

(3)

15.1 %
I play basketball “every chance I get.”3.4 %

(3)

2.2 %

(4)

3.5 %

(2)

3.6 %

(1)

3.2 %
Have a Basketball18.4 %

(1)

18.2 %

(2)

17.7 %

(3)

17.6 %

(4)

16.6 %
Purchased a Basketball (in the past year)1.3 %

(3)

1.4 %

(2)

0.9 %

(4)

1.5 %

(1)

1.8 %
Purchased Basketball Shoes (in the past year)6.8 %

(1)

5.7 %

(3)

6.4 %

(2)

5.2 %

(4)

5.4 %
Average
Rank
2.03.02.42.6
Note: Rank among Final Four markets is in parenthesis

Comment are closed.