Nate Silver: Magic fans’ racial compositions about at NBA average

Take this post as an interesting piece of social science.

Discussions about race have been front and center this week in the NBA after Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racist and insensitive statements to his girlfriend/mistress/whatever their strange relationship is. The event sparked outrage around the league and Adam Silver took swift and decisive action which everyone involved with the league has come out in support of.

There are certainly some generalizations that exist about NBA demographics. Ones that would suggest Donald Sterling was doing lots of bad business with his comments.

Nate Silver of, collecting data from various polls conducted by Nielsen and others on the population’s favorite sports and whether they watch NBATV or not, attempted to determining the demographics of NBA fans and figure out whether Sterling really was offending a good chunk of his fan base.

Turns out, predictably, he was. Silver estimates nearly half of the Clippers fan base is Black or Hispanic. So, yeah, not the smartest decision to offend that part of your fan base.

Quibble with the numbers all you want, it is interesting to think about the demographics of NBA fans. And maybe even what it says about Mavic fans. Silver’s estimate suggest the Magic’s distribution of fans hit about the NBA’s average:

Nate Silver estimated the racial distribution of NBA fans. The Magic came out average.

That is a pretty incredible statement and just food for thought. According to Silver, the Magic’s fan base is roughly 45.6 percent white, 31.4 percent Black, 15.5 percent Hispanic and 4.6 percent Asian. These are all very much in line with the league’s averages, as you can see in the table above.

This seems to suggest something more about the demographics of the City of Orlando and Central Florida more than an analysis of the Magic and its fans.

According to data from the 2010 Census, 69.8 percent of residents in Orange County consider themselves White only, 21.8 percent Black/African-American only and 28.2 percent Hispanic. Clearly the NBA skews more toward the White/Black group as mucho f society has. Orlando and Orange County are interesting for that Hispanic population.


Certainly the Magic have long struggled to find a way to market to the city’s Hispanic community. Carlos Arroyo almost single-handedly spiked ticket sales when the Magic acquired him, prompting the team to sell Puerto Rican flags at the team stores inside the Amway Arena and Arroyo jerseys with the Puerto Rican flag down the sides.

There is a largely untapped market there for the Magic.

Again, this is not to make a point and it may not even be wholly accurate. It is purely food for thought and something interesting to ponder.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily