By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
It has long and often been noted that sports fans in New York are the best anywhere. As Yankee third baseman Scott Brosius said just last week after New York took a 2-0 lead over Texas in the American League division series, ''they're the most knowledgeable.'' But what happens, the Voicewondered, when you pit them against each other? Who wins the battle of wits among Gotham's game-goers? The Voicehas completed a yearlong, highly unscientific survey of local pro-sports fans, and, herewith, the illuminating results.
Village Voice Sports Fan Iq Survey
PROTOCOL: Quiz was handed to Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, Nets, Knicks, Rangers, and Islanders fans volunteering to take the test outside of each team's arena or stadium. (New Jersey Devils fans were excluded based on the longevity of ''Potvin sucks!'' and its critical importance to the relationship between Rangers and Islanders fans. Plus, who wants to go out to the Meadowlands again?) Where possible, attempts were made to distribute the quiz equally by ethnicity, race, and gender. Sample populations averaged 40 to 60 subjects per team. The general-knowledge test consisted of nine multiple-choice and short-answer questions, with topics ranging from history and literature to current events and basic math. In order to test each subject's familiarity with his or her sport of choice, the final question (No. 10) was tailored to the event he or she was attending. That is, an individual on her way to a Mets game was asked a baseball question, the man outside Nassau Coliseum was queried about hockey, and so forth.
1. What is the capital of New York?
2. Who wrote the national anthem?
3. What animal was Ahab hunting in Moby Dick?
4. Who is the president of Russia?
5. Who wrote the novel Tom Sawyer?
6. What famous document was signed in 1787?
7. What does MTA stand for?
8. What is the square root of 9?
(a) 0 (b) 2.6 (c) 3 (d) 18 (e) 81
9. What are the three states of water?
(a) solid, liquid, gas (b) ocean, lake, river (c) tap, bottled, purified (d) Florida, New York, California (e) two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen
10. Baseball: Who has hit the most career homers in major-league history?
Football: Who has rushed for the most career yards in NFL history?
Basketball: Who has scored the most points in NBA history?
Hockey: What team has won the most Stanley Cups in NHL history?
RESULTS: And graduating at the top of Gotham's sports class are . . . Giants fans! Though the Big Blue faithful pulled out an average score of 81, a solid B-, their Meadowlands roomies were not far behind with 78, leading us to conclude that Giants and Jets fans are New York's intellectual elite. Is it the swamp water? Or did tailgating--and the extra time the activity provided to deliberate difficult questions--give gridiron fans the edge? Though initially we thought the latter, the research team determined that the results retain their integrity when factoring in the confounding cerebral effects of imbibing copious amounts of wine (Giants) or liquor (Jets, Jack Daniels preferred).
Interestingly, both Giants and Jets fans benefited greatly from knowledge of their sport. A respectable 76 percent of Gang Green groupies knew that Walter Payton had the most career rushing yards (16,726), while a full 83 percent of Giants fans answered the sports-related question correctly. In total, the football sample scored an average C-(70 and 72, respectively) without it, demonstrating particular vulnerability to history. To wit, 20 percent of Giants fans and 19 percent of Jets fans thought the Magna Carta was signed in 1787, apparently oblivious to almost six dull, Gifford- and Namath-free centuries.
History, incidentally, proved a tough subject across the board. Over 80 percent of area athletics aficionados did not know that the United States Constitution was signed in 1787. However, researchers posited the possibility that the sample population was thrown off by wording of the question, as the document was not, in fact, ratified until 1789. Additionally, statistically significant numbers of respondents--22 percent of Yankee supporters, 24 percent of Mets patrons, and a staggering 36 percent of Islander enthusiasts--didn't know that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.
Overall, test populations did well on the first half of the test, save the lone Yankee fan who thought Ahab was dogging a dog, though the second half proved more difficult. The toughest question on the test, numbers show, was No. 7 regarding the MTA--almost all participants (87 percent!) were stumped by it. It is unclear that this result indicates a tendency on the part of the sample at large toward private transportation, the determination of which is the goal of a projected follow-up study based on the continuing adventures of Juan and Marisol.
Hockey fans, it should be noted, exhibited the most knowledge of their sport. The Islanders supporters were near the top in correctly responding to the sports question (82 percent), and the Rangers fans bested all others with a whopping 88 percent testifying to the fact that the Montreal Canadiens have won more Stanley Cups than any other NHL team. Ironically, the Rangers, though obviously intimate with ice, ranked lowest among respondents identifying the three states of water; nearly 25 percent picked ''two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.''