Quiz Show


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 Voice wondered, when you pit them against each other? Who wins the battle of wits among Gotham’s game-goers? The Voice has 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?

(a) New York City (b) Albany (c) Buffalo

(d) Canarsie (e) Schenectady

2. Who wrote the national anthem?

(a) Betsy Ross (b) Andrew Lloyd Weber

(c) Francis Scott Key (d) Irving Berlin (e) John Phillip Sousa

3. What animal was Ahab hunting in Moby Dick?

4. Who is the president of Russia?

(a) Boris Badenov (b) Boris Karloff (c) Yakov Smirnoff (d) Boris Gudonov (e) Boris Yeltsin

5. Who wrote the novel Tom Sawyer?

(a) Col. Sanders (b) Geddy Lee (c) Mark Twain (d) John Wayne (e) Tom Sawyer

6. What famous document was signed in 1787?

(a) Magna Carta (b) Declaration of Independence (c) The U.S. Constitution (d) Monroe Doctrine (e) Treaty of Versailles

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?

(answers below)

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.”

Though not part of the primary objective, due to the study’s ordinal nature, researchers were able to identify the local franchise with the, for lack of a better word, dumbest fans. Not surprisingly, New York’s dumbest fans root for New Jersey. The Nets test group tallied the lowest averages with (77) and without (70) the sports question. Further, only half of those polled outside Brendan Byrne Arena were able to name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the NBA’s leading career point-scorer. For their part, Knicks fans fared even worse as a paltry 43 percent answered correctly. (A follow-up study to gauge the number of basketball fans who believe the NBA began with Michael Jordan in 1984 is in the planning stages.) Finally, it is worth noting that the poor showing on the part of Nets fans could be attributed to the small sample size. The researchers were prevented from completing their study of Nets fans when team officials halted the survey and demanded approval of the protocol. In order to preserve the integrity of results, the request was denied.

COMMENTS: Though not part of the original aim of the study, the results provided some anecdotal evidence by which the research team was able to make some preliminary concurrent conclusions. For instance, Giants fans may have turned out to be the brightest, but they were also the meanest. As a group they demonstrated a pronounced lack of congeniality; the researchers were routinely rebuffed by cold stares and nonverbal refusals to participate. Additionally, Giants supporters tended to be old and white to a degree unseen in other test groups. Jets fans, by contrast, were New York’s nicest, often proferring food and beverage to researchers. They were not unaware of what set them apart from the city’s other football fans, noting that ”Giants fans are white collar. Jets fans are white trash by day, white trash by night.” In a coincidence that begs further study, Yankee respondents exhibited behavior almost identical to that of the Giants group, leading researchers to surmise a causal link between rudeness and calling Yankee Stadium home. Knickerbocker supporters were the most ethnically diverse; the research team was turned down in at least four different languages: English, Spanish, German, and French.

Team Sample size Average score Average score1 Pct.2
Giants 60 81 72 83
Jets 37 78 70 76
Yankees 37 77 70 73
Knicks 42 77 73 43
Rangers 59 76 67 88
Islanders 50 75 67 82
Mets 55 74 67 67
Nets 14 71 66 50
Total 371 77 70 74

1 average score without sports question

2 percentage answering sports question correctly

Research assistance by Tim Smith

ANSWERS 1. (b) 2. (c) 3. whale 4. (e) 5. (c) 6. (c) 7. Metropolitan Transportation Authority 8. (c) 9. (a) 10. baseball: Hank Aaron (755) football: Walter Payton (16,726) basketball: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) hockey: Montreal Canadiens (23)