A legacy is the child of a graduate- whether that is a high school, college, Greek Chapter or sport. If your parents did it before you, you’re a legacy. In most cases, if you’re the legacy of a college grad it might be a factor helping you get into your parents’ Alma Mater- especially if they are making annual donations or had an impact on the school in some way- i.e. Athletics.
Legacy can go in a handful of directions when it comes to sports – you can be a legacy athlete of the NCAA, you can be the legacy of a specific school’s athletic program, play on the same team your parents’ once played on, or you can be a legacy fan.
The graduation rate of colleges in the US is growing every year as are admission rates. All three NCAA divisions have grown in terms of recognized sports and teams counts, producing more student-athletes each season. As these student-athletes graduate, get jobs and start families, they create legacy fans. Of course any child of a college graduate can be a legacy fan, they don’t have the be the children of former student athletes, but if there is an emotional connection to a team, like your parents participating on it, or being a part of a school who is successful in sports, you are most likely going to grow up a fan of your parents’ colleges’ sports teams.
Take me and my siblings for instance. We are huge Villanova fans. Both of my parents went there, my dad’s best friend was the Wildcat Mascot, and the year after they graduated, the Cats won the NCAA March Madness Tournament of 1985. Because my parents had an emotional connection to their school and felt pride in the athletics program, we grew up going to Villanova basketball games, going to sleepaway sports camps hosted by Villanova coaches on campus, and getting prospect mail from the admissions department to apply. Unfortunately, none of us ended up going to Villanova, but we still are very passionate Wildkittens.
At Villanova games, I have discovered legacy followers. At one basketball game in particular, I sat next to a man whose father played football for Villanova in the 70s. He said he had always been a Villanova fan because of his father, but he’s been going to the school’s basketball games recently because the starting point guard was the son of his father’s teammates. A lot of pride comes from college sports for generations of families, and that is a big factor of what keeps youth to professional athletics alive and growing.
People move to different cities, players get traded and the occasional scandal tarnishes a team’s image. Fans of professional sports are passionate and always changing and growing their influence of fandom. The emotional connections made from actually interacting with a school’s athletics program can have an impact on a legacy sports fan from early childhood. You could be a fan of college sports in general, but the emotional and loyal connections that legacy fans make with a school’s sports team because of family history is something that can be stronger than hometown pride for a professional team.