Fans Have More Friends

by Ben Valenta and David Sikorjak

"Fans Have More Friends is an insightful social science study that forwards useful suggestions for fostering social connections and strengthening communities." 

—Foreword Reviews

"A convincing case for the societal benefits of sports fandom."

—Kirkus Reviews

"An upbeat, data-driven sociological breakdown of the benefits of sports fandom."


Fans Have More Friends

What if we told you that fans have more friends?

Not only that, but they engage with those friends more often, and they value those friendships more. What if we told you fans exhibit stronger measures of well-being, happiness, confidence, and optimism? What if we told you fans tend to be more trusting of others and more confident in institutions? Or that fandom helps mitigate the loneliness and polarization that plague our culture today? What if we told you that fandom is a social good?

In these pages, Ben Valenta and David Sikorjak take the reader on a journey to discover fandom's far-reaching benefits: improved social connections, stronger community ties, enhanced well-being, and a greater sense of belonging.

If fandom creates connections that reverberate through society, then we need more fandom. As fans, we are frontline actors in that mission. The more confident we are in our fandom, the more conscious we are of fandom's power, the more prepared we are to serve as ambassadors, inviting people into our sports families, using fandom to build bridges across social divisions, and activating it to benefit our communities. Think of sports as a tool you can use, and then ask yourself, "Where do I want to deploy this tool?"

What people say about it

A shared love for our teams and sports can be an unexpected source of community and happiness. In Fans Have More Friends, Ben Valenta and David Sikorjak explore a convincing case for how fandom can improve both our relationships and lives.

—ARTHUR C. BROOKS, Professor at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School and #1New York Times bestselling author

In a world so badly in need of things that brings us together, Valenta and Sikorjak overwhelmingly prove the case for one that works not just incredibly well, but better than we ever knew. I am a super-fan of this book.

—DAVID HOLLANDER, Professor at NYU Tisch Institute for Global Sport and author of How Basketball Can Save the World

Fans Have More Friends opened my eyes to fandom's ability to galvanize relationships, build community, and instill in us a greater sense of belonging. A must-read for fans and non-fans alike.

—DAN BUETTNER, National Geographic Fellow and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zones

Fans Have More Friends brilliantly blends research and storytelling to offer a fresh perspective on the humanity of sports. Valenta and Sikorjak have given us all compelling reasons to be a fan.

—BEN SHIELDS, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management and coauthor of The Sports Strategist 

About the Authors

Ben Valenta

Ben Valenta is the SVP of Strategy & Analytics for FOX Sports. In his previous life as a consultant, he advised an incredible array of clients, including: Nike, NFL, Anheuser-Busch InBev, YouTube, ESPN, National Geographic, MSNBC, NBC News, Livestrong, New York Knicks, and New York Rangers. He likes to surf and ride bikes and wrestle with his kids in Venice, California.


David Sikorjak

David Sikorjak is the founder of Dexterity Consulting, a strategy and analytics consultancy that artfully blends research, analysis, and empa- thy to transform how brands think. Prior to that, he was an executive at Publicis, NBC, and Madison Square Garden. A proud New Yorker, David is a husband, father, yogi, little league coach, and Yankees/Knicks/Jets fan.