We looked at the official Twitter handle for every NFL team and used their followers as a signal of allegiance (as opposed to, say, mentioning a team when watching an interesting matchup or talking about your rival). Click on the image below to explore the interactive map, which shows you not only which teams dominate states and counties, but also how their reach spreads across the country.
The primary view shows you which team is most-followed in every county in the country:
The map illustrates where one team’s fan base ends and another’s begins; see how Texas is divided between the @DallasCowboys and @HoustonTexans. Many regions have divided loyalties, so you can also explore which teams have the second-highest number of followers in each county (which you can explore by clicking the ‘which team has the most followers button’). You can see that the Texans and Cowboys flip in this second-place view:
To find where your favorite team’s fans are clustered, click on your team’s pin or select it from the drop-down menu. You’ll see the spread of your team’s followers across the country. Each view of the interactive visualization has its own unique URL for you to share — for example, take a look at this map for the @Seahawks, the reigning Super Bowl champions.
There are several other ways to view and explore the map:
- Nationally: View a national snapshot of where each team’s followers come from.
- By team: Pick your favorite team to see where their followers come from across the country.
- By county: Enter the name of any county to see which teams are the most-followed there.
- Compare teams: Pick any two teams and compare where they each have the biggest density of followers. You can compare local rivals like the @Giants and @NYJets or @Raiders and @49ers, or teams facing off for a big game like the @Broncos and @Chargers (who play on “Thursday Night Football” tomorrow night).
Here are a few trends we noticed during our own exploration of this visualization:
Florida: a patchwork of loyalties
Florida’s NFL loyalties are divided more than any other state: gold for the @Jaguars, red for the @TBBuccaneers and turquoise for the @MiamiDolphins. The patterns for Twitter followers mostly follows regional lines around the team’s home – with a few exceptions. The state’s panhandle leans more toward supporting the nextdoor neighbor Louisiana’s New Orleans @Saints. And that little patch of dark blue right in the middle? That is Osceola County where the no. 1 team is actually the @Patriots – based in Foxborough, Massachusetts, over 1,000 miles north.
Are the Cowboys “America’s team”?
The @DallasCowboys’ stadium may be in Arlington, Texas, but their fan base spreads across the entire country. It dominates almost all of the counties in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and is strong from coast to coast. Compared to its rivals the @HoustonTexans, you can see how pervasive the Cowboys’ presence is except in the counties around the Texans’ home stadium in Houston.
Battle for the Keystone State
Pennsylvania sees another in-state rivalry between two teams: the Pittsburgh @Steelers and the Philadelphia @Eagles. At first glance, zooming in shows what you might expect: the highest concentration of Steelers’ fans surrounds their home base in Pittsburgh, and the highest percentage of Eagles’ followers are near Philadelphia. But check out the full map to see how Steelers’ followers are more present in counties across the U.S. than those of the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Eagles have the most followers in some counties in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.
Replay #SuperBowl 48
Each view of the interactive map can be Tweeted or embedded by clicking either the ‘Tweet this view’ or ‘Embed this view’ buttons at the top of the screen. This interactive map was built by Twitter Data Visualization Scientist Krist Wongsuphasawat.