Latino Studies Relationship Between Certain NFL teams and Latinos
Jorge Iber
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 February 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0266


Latinos/as are now the nation’s largest minority group (making up 18.5 percent of the country’s population as of 2019). In certain states, such as Texas and California (home of five NFL franchises) this percentage is substantially larger (both at around 39 percent) than is the rest of the country. In Florida, with three NFL cities, Latinos comprise more than 25 percent of inhabitants (with the percentages being greater in Miami and Tampa than in Jacksonville). Over the past few years, there has been an increased level of discussion of how professional teams should relate to this diverse group; particularly for those sports not considered “traditional” in Spanish-speaking countries. Among these is American football (in contrast to futbol/soccer and baseball). Given their substantial numbers, how can the NFL turn this populace (both those who have been in the United States for generations and more recent arrivals) into viewers and, eventually, paying customers (for team merchandise and game tickets)? There are several important questions that need to be addressed concerning football (and particularly, the NFL) and this population. First, how should teams approach this group? Are Latinos/as all the same in the way that they interact with specific teams (and the League), or are there differences to consider? In other words, do the Dallas Cowboys market themselves to the Spanish-surnamed in the same way as do the Las Vegas Raiders or Miami Dolphins? While more “recent arrivals” (in the United States less than ten years) make up about 25 percent of the group, the rest have been in the United States more than ten years; sufficient time to become (at least) introduced to what may be a “new” sport. Is the best way to reach these potential customers in Spanish or in English? Given the overwhelming percentage of Latinos/as who have been in the United States for more than ten years, and should have at least a bit of fluency in English, how much should teams emphasize Spanish-language broadcasts and advertisements? As recently as the 2020–2021 playoffs, the NFL partnered with Entravision Communications to broadcast all tournament games in Spanish leading up to the Super Bowl, which took place in Tampa. Still, as of the time of this writing, there is not a specific academic study that details the history of the NFL’s (or specific teams’) connection (via marketing or broadcasting) to Latinos, though there are quite a few articles and some theses that examine ties between sport and such consumers.

General Overviews

As noted, there is not a specific academic overview that deals exclusively with the topic of how the NFL (and individual teams) interact with their Latino/a fan bases (either historically or from a marketing perspective). An effective place to start such study, however, should be Korzenny, et al. 2017 which proffers a comprehensive introduction to marketing products and services to this community. This work emphasizes the necessity of marketers (including sports teams) to consider the individual culture of the various groups. In short, while Mexicans/Mexican Americans and Cubans/Cuban Americans may all be lumped into the “Latino/a” category, they are to be approached in different ways. NFL teams need to keep this in mind when reaching out to this base. One of the few academic tomes that deals specifically with the role of Latinos/as as consumers of sport is Iber, et al. 2011 in a brief section of the work’s final chapter. Therein, readers will find a discussion on (and citations for articles) dealing with the way that some teams, such as the Raiders, were pursuing the Latino market as of the early 2000s. Additionally, there are references that focus on some of the concerns of the NFL in attempting to reach out to the first generation/recent arrivals and getting them to move toward becoming fans of the American version of “football.” One final academic essay that needs inclusion here is Moraga 2018 which, while not dealing directly with NFL teams reaching out to Latinos/as, notes that the growing presence of such consumers of sport helps counters many perceptions of this population commonly held by many in the nation’s majority, as well as forcing US sports to deal with “the browning of America” concerned with political, social, and economic change. For example, how should the NFL deal with issues such as the US immigration policy known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)? Or how should Latino fans of the New England Patriots feel about the close ties between team owner Robert Kraft and Donald Trump?

  • Iber, Jorge, Samuel O. Regalado, Jose Alamillo, and Arnoldo De Leon. Latinos in U.S. Sport: A History of Isolation, Cultural Identity, and Acceptance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2011.

    DOI: 10.5040/9781718206656

    Thorough coverage of this history, plus information on efforts by sport teams and corporations to reach out to the Latino/a community. See specifically chapter 7.

  • Korzenny, Felipe, Sindy Chapa, and Betty Ann Korzenny. Hispanic Marketing: The Power of the New Latino Consumer. 3d ed. New York: Routledge, 2017.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315688824

    Introductory text on Hispanic marketing for students in that major.

  • Moraga, Jorge E. “On ESPN Deportes: Latinos, Sport Media, and the Cultural Politics of Visibilities.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 42.6 (2018): 470–497.

    DOI: 10.1177/0193723518797030

    Examines the different topics that Latino/a sports announcers are bringing into the broader discussion of sports in the United States.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.