The 10th annual edition of ESPN The Magazine‘s Ultimate Standings — which ranks pro sports franchises based on how much teams give back to fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion they invest in them — is currently on newsstands.
The Mag’s “Franchise Issue” features Aaron Rodgers and members of the Green Bay Packers offensive line on the cover.
In the 2012 Ultimate Standings, Green Bay slipped a spot to No. 2 (behind the Oklahoma City Thunder) after leading the standings a year ago. However, Rodgers and company earned cover photo honors as The Mag‘s NFL Team of the Decade. Along with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, the Packers are the only other franchise to finish No. 1 more than once.
(ESPN The Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman talks with Packers’ President Mark Murphy about the Franchise issue here. Millman also gets Darren Rovell’s thoughts about why kids want to grow up to be owners instead of players.)
Below, Front Row picks the brain of Ultimate Standings coordinator Peter Keating, a senior writer at The Mag, where he has covered investigative and financial stories since 1999.
With this year marking the 10th anniversary of Ultimate Standings, can you tell us about some of your strangest findings?
The great thing about the Standings is that because they are based on fans rating their own favorite teams, I learn things from the people who know these franchises best that I’d never know otherwise. Like how much [Minnesota] Wild fans love their arena, or [Baltimore] Ravens fans adore their ownership. Or how great the [Oklahoma] Thunder are at connecting fans via social media — that popped up in our data this year, and became a big theme for our story. So the stuff that seems weird often makes sense once we take a closer look.
Anything in the 2012 rankings that would surprise fans?
The Phoenix Coyotes, a team that went bankrupt three years ago and has the lowest attendance in the NHL, finished sixth overall. We were surprised. But you know what? The Coyotes are a playoff team with the lowest prices in hockey, and fans absolutely love their coach, Dave Tippett, and the effort their players give. They actually deliver great value.