Alexander: Yes, Los Angeles sports fans, you can chant ‘We’re No. 1’

Four decades ago, in response to the “I (Heart) New York” slogan that became ubiquitous on T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc., the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area decided it had to respond with its own boosterish slogan: “L.A.’s The Place.”

Yeah, well, that didn’t catch on quite the way the Chamber of Commerce and the city fathers might have intended. But when it comes to Los Angeles’ status as a sports town, it may be truer than ever.

The personal finance site WalletHub, which periodically issues rankings on all kinds of issues, came out this past week with its current list of this country’s best sports cities, grouped by size (300,000-plus, 100,000 to 300,000, and below 100,000). And if you are an L.A. fan, and particularly one irritated by the years-long bragging of your relatives (or transplanted neighbors) from New England, feel free to do your own boasting. The top of the big city rankings reads, in this order:

Los Angeles.


New York.



We will get to the methodology and explanation shortly. Meanwhile, feel free to bask in the glory. Even the setbacks, like the Dodgers’ playoff flameout last month, the Lakers’ dismal start and the Rams’ post-championship struggles, should only slightly dampen the impulse to brag.

First, some reminders. LAFC is the new champion of Major League Soccer. The Rams are still defending Super Bowl champs. The Dodgers and Lakers both won titles in 2020, although in the Lakers’ case that seems so long ago. (A team that no longer exists won one, too, the rugby Giltinis in 2021.) And, fittingly for a geographic area that has two of just about everything, the Chargers and Clippers are in positions to make noise.

More? USC and UCLA football are still in the mix – longshots, but in the mix – for the College Football Playoff, which will – ahem – be contested at SoFi Stadium on Jan. 9. UCLA has reached the Final Four and Elite Eight in successive men’s basketball seasons, while USC is two years removed from its own Elite Eight run.

Consider, too: Dating to 2012, L.A. teams have won eight championships in the five major league sports (Kings 2, Lakers 1, Dodgers 1, Rams 1, LAFC 1, Galaxy 1). Boston/New England? Five, two by the Red Sox and three by the Patriots, and none since the 2018 season.

And with that statistic, I can’t help but think of the fan in the Atlanta airport the morning after the Patriots’ victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII in February, 2019, wearing this T-shirt: “Championship. Parade. Repeat. Boston.” Seen any duck boats lately, pal?

This is also time for a reminder that Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, before the Warriors-Celtics NBA Finals this past June, noted that his region had gone “three long years” without the confetti that comes with a championship. The “drought” goes on.

I’m sorry. I can’t help it. New Englanders – and especially the transplants who live among us – have spent so much time trolling everyone else when they were atop the sports world, giving a little of it back is irresistible. (But before you rip me, New England clam chowder beats Manhattan seven days a week.)

Oh, and as for New York? One championship in that span, NYCFC winning the MLS Cup in 2021. The Giants did win Super Bowl XLVI, for the 2011 season, so we’ll be magnanimous and give the city that one.

Of course, it’s deceptive to measure by just championships. WalletHub uses multiple categories for each sport in its methodology, including on-field success, Hall of Fame managers and coaches, fan engagement, average ticket price, attendance, facility sizes and “popularity,” which seems kind of a vague metric. (It’s sort of similar to the stew of categories we use for our State of SoCal Sports rankings, though presumably more scientific and less seat-of-the-pants.)

Multiply it over five sports, and not only major league franchises but minor league and college teams as well, with varied importance given to different categories, and you get a pretty exhaustive process. Another wrinkle: The sports are weighted differently, with football accounting for 54% of the score, basketball 16%, baseball 13%, soccer 11% and hockey 6%. Multiple teams in the same city, in this calculation, is a benefit.

These numbers are designed to create an overall picture. Not incidentally, they’re also guaranteed to start arguments, be it in a bar or on social media or at the Thanksgiving dinner table. (As for the latter, debating about sports would probably be an improvement.)

L.A. ranked No. 1 in this survey in basketball and soccer, No. 3 in baseball, No. 5 in football and 24th in hockey. But keep in mind that only the Kings were credited to L.A. Anaheim was ranked 16th in hockey, but hold off on the bragging, Ducks fans.

L.A.’s overall score was 50.91, three-hundredths of a point ahead of Boston, which ranked first in hockey, second in basketball, fourth in football, fifth in baseball and 13th in soccer.

I prefer the championship metric – it’s easier to keep track of, for one thing, and the trophies, banners and rings are really what it’s all about – but whatever.

And yes, there are some quirks. Anaheim, with an underperforming NHL team, a really underperforming baseball team and no NCAA teams to speak of within the city limits, was 61st and last in the big city rankings. Amazingly, Riverside (56) and Long Beach (58) were higher in the 300,000-and-up category based on their college basketball, baseball and soccer teams.

(Riversiders, you don’t get many opportunities to talk trash to your neighbors further west on the 91. Might as well let ‘er rip.)

On the overall list, ranking cities of all sizes from 1 to 392, Irvine is No. 259 (and no, it doesn’t get credit for having the Ducks’ practice facility within its city limits). Malibu is ranked 274, Riverside 275, Fullerton 287, Anaheim 308, Rancho Cucamonga 361, San Bernardino 362 and Lake Elsinore 372. (Somehow Ontario was left off the list, suggesting that minor-league hockey counts less than minor-league baseball.)

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But there are other numbers worth crunching as well, to put into perspective SoCal’s true worth as a sports region. A report produced at this week’s L.A. Sports Innovation Conference in Inglewood said the sports industry here accounts for 39,690 jobs, $7 billion in economic output, $4 billion in what was termed “labor income,” and $364 million in state and local taxes.

And then there’s this, according to the information sheet: “8,160 student-athletes represented schools in the Los Angeles basin.” That might be the most important stat of all.

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