Southern California

Dodgers Pass the Lakers as L.A.'s Favorite Sports Team

A recent study by Loyola Marymount University shows that the Dodgers have passed the Lakers as Los Angeles' most popular sports team.

Move over Lakers, there's a new sheriff in town.

According to a Loyola Marymount University study, the Los Angeles Dodgers have surpassed the Lakers as the most popular sports franchise in Southern California.

Since 2014, the University has conducted the survey, which is led by Thomas and Dorothy Leavy of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles. Each January, they poll 2,400 adults in the L.A. area, asking them one simple question:

"What is your favorite professional sports team in Los Angeles?" 

For three consecutive years, the answer has been the same: the Lake Show. But for the first time since the poll started, the Dodgers surpassed the historic NBA franchise by a single percent, 36 to 35, in 2017.

It's not hard to fathom how this happened. The Los Angeles Dodgers were at a low point in their franchise's history in 2012 when Frank McCourt owned the team as he was locked in a high-profile court battle with his ex-wife, Jamie, over who was the rightful owner of the team.

The Dodgers hadn't made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons and attendance numbers dipped significantly as fans showed their disapproval of ownership. McCourt sold the team that year to the Guggenheim group, led by former Lakers' star, Magic Johnson.

Johnson vowed that he would help make the Dodgers as big as the Lakers, and that his first order of business was to bring the fans back. Since Johnson's group took over, the Dodgers have won four consecutive NL West Division titles, and have come within two wins of reaching their first World Series since 1988.

Over that same span, the Lakers have gone through a rough patch to say the least. After the death of owner Jerry Buss in February of 2013, the Lakers lost marquee players like Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to free agency without anything in return, and subsequently fell into a dark period of ineptitude that the franchise had never seen before. 


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In Dr. Buss's 34 years as owner of the Lakers, the team made the playoffs 32 times. Only twice over that span did the 16-time NBA Champions not make the postseason.

Since Dr. Buss's death, they have yet to make the postseason, finishing in the bottom five of the league for four consecutive years. 

When the survey was first conducted, the Lakers received 42 percent of the vote compared to 35 percent for the Dodgers. However, as both teams stock have gone in opposite directions over the past four years, the Lakers popularity has slipped, whereas the Dodgers has risen, proving that the City of Angels admires winning above all else.

The city's newest sports team, the Los Angeles Rams, found that out the hard way last year, their first season back after 20 years in St. Louis.

Initially, fans in Los Angeles were excited for the return of the Rams, with nearly 90,000 fans in attendance tor the team's preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys last August. 

However, as the season progressed, the Rams became more and more dreadful on the field. They fired their coach midway through the season and finished 4-12, playing in front of a half-empty L.A. Coliseum by season's end. 

The Rams received just five percent of the vote in 2017, with the Clippers finishing in third place with 7 percent, the Angels and Kings tied with 6 percent, the L.A. Galaxy with five percent, and the Sparks with just 0.2 percent. 

The Anaheim Ducks were not part of the survey, nor were L.A's newest NFL franchise the Chargers who have yet to play a game in the city since announcing their relocation from San Diego this winter.

NBC LA has conducted similar polls over the past few years with similar results as the LMU study.

Another reason for the Lakers popularity decline this year, is the departure of fan favorite and future Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant. Bryant completed his 20th and final season with the Lakers in 2016, as fans said farewell to the five-time NBA Champion.

Meanwhile, the Lakers young nucleus of Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram has been fun to watch at times, but they have not been nearly as successful as the Dodgers young stars like reigning NL Rookie of the Year Winner, Corey Seager, or last season's top pitching prospect, Julio Urias, who is of Mexican descent.

The good news for the Lakers, is that the man partially responsible for leading the Dodgers back to the top has just been named President of Basketball Operations for the Lake Show.

Magic has promised to guide the Lakers back to the championship caliber club they have always been, and has made it no secret that his first order of business is to attract stars back to Hollywood.

Despite the Dodgers lead in popularity, if Magic and the Lakers can land a big name star this offseason and make the NBA Playoffs, it shouldn't take long for them to regain their stranglehold as L.A's favorite team.

The Los Angeles Times was the first to report the findings of the study.

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