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Originally published December 27, 2009 at 9:00 PM | Page modified December 28, 2009 at 6:19 PM

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Behind Huskies basketball, the young and the fortunate

Not all Huskies fans are created equal, you know.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs


Not all Huskies fans are created equal, you know.

For instance, check out evidence that suggests basketball Dawgs are younger, richer and more of a niche entity than football Dawgs.

The median age of University of Washington hoops fans is 37.65, according to Scarborough Research. That's five years younger than the median age of football fans polled. Despite their youth, Huskies hoops fans in the Scarborough study have a median household income of $111,547, the highest of all of Seattle's most prominent fan bases and more than $30,000 more than football fans.

What does it all mean? For a clue, consider that, according to the university, 86 percent of the basketball season-ticket holders are Tyee Club members, the athletic program's biggest donors. By comparison, 41 percent of football season-ticket holders are Tyee members.

So the Husky basketball program, which has become popular during the Lorenzo Romar era, naturally attracts a lot of younger fans embracing a team building a winning tradition. But the money the athletic department makes from basketball — the only sport that generates revenue beyond football — still comes mostly from longtime supporters.

That makes UW basketball more of a niche. Football has a broader fan base and appeal because of its history.

"Football has had a long, storied tradition," Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said. "Some of our core fans have been around a long time. Football has that strong of a foundation.

"Our basketball program is kind of a startup. The Romar era has been fun, high-energy entertainment. The arena provides you with a more intimate atmosphere, so the students know they can have fun with that and affect the game more than they can at Husky Stadium. All of this might explain the differences a little."

At UW basketball games, you can see the dichotomy. The Dawg Pack, the nickname for the student section, goes wild with cheers and taunts. Many Tyees are more relaxed and enjoy simply supporting any athlete in purple and gold. It makes for a diverse atmosphere.

Patrick Landin, a UW senior, leads the Dawg Pack during basketball games. He's a huge Huskies football fan, too, but has seen only losing seasons as a student. On the other hand, the basketball team has been highly competitive.

"I look forward to the basketball games a little bit more," Landin said. "We realize that it's our job to energize the building. The older fans, they're not always going to get on their feet. We know that. So we really enjoy being loud and getting after the opponent.

"The atmosphere between football and basketball is totally different. You wake up in the morning for a football game, and even though we're getting better, there's pessimism. Sometimes it's subtle, but you can feel it, like, we don't know if we're going to win. With basketball, it's just crazier. We kind of know we're superior. It's fun. You can do irrational things. You're just trying to help your team win."

News researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer

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