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Study Shows Boston Fans Amongst The Most Loyal. Is It Accurate?

If there's one negative that comes with winning teams, it's the accusations of bandwagoning. It doesn't matter how long you've followed the team, watching the games and wearing the colors, you're just one of the fair-weathers, on board to follow a winner and then hopping off at the first sign of trouble.

Of course, for others, the negative is the bandwagoners.

Good for Boston, then, that they've got science on their side. Maybe.

Brand Keys Inc. out of New York has put together their Sports Loyalty Index for 2011, and according to Rob Gloster, the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins rank in the top five for their sports, with the Patriots taking first overall in the NFL.

Dig a little further, though, and it's pretty clear we're not just talking about loyalty here. Here are some of the criteria used:

New York-based Brand Keys Inc. compiled the 19th annual Sports Loyalty Index by surveying 250 fans in each team’s market and assessing the data based on factors driven by on-field success, fan bonding with players and the franchise’s history and tradition. A club’s effort and sense of teamwork also can have an effect.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me like there's not much loyalty being measured here at all. Instead, this is more about selling t-shirts during the upcoming season. On-field success is the sort of thing that a team should almost be penalized for here, since loyalty isn't measured when the franchise is winning. Effort and teamwork on the field? Fan bonding with players? This is the sort of thing that should inspire loyalty, but one needs look no farther than Tropicana Field to realize that's not always the case, though.

So come to me when the days of Belichick and Epstein are gone. When deep playoff runs are a thing of distant memory and we're really very excited about the top pick in the next draft. Show me that the stadiums are filled then as they were for some of our teams before, and not for others.

That's loyalty.