America’s Favorite Out of State Football Teams, Mapped
Some people look forward to the start of fall for their love of cool weather, changing leaves, and of course, their first pumpkin spice latte. But for sports fans around the country, one force reigns supreme: football season.
When it comes to the gridiron, what’s close to home is often close to the heart. But that certainly does not mean every football fan in America prefers the team closest to their front stoop. Countless more grow up rooting for far-flung teams, or retain loyalty to their original home team after moving to another state. Other times, something as simple as a jersey, logo, team colors, t-shirt or mascot can create a football fanatic for life. Whatever the reason, you are sure to find people from sea to shining sea passionately rooting for out of state football teams.
When considering the substantial undercurrent of mismatched fandom, the Custom Ink team wanted to investigate exactly which out of state teams have the largest fan bases in unfamiliar territory. To figure this out, we turned to Google Trends, looking at stats related to shopping specifically. What we found was so interesting, we had to map it out and share it with the world!
More specifically, we looked at Google Shopping trends over the last 12 months – as we felt true fans are the ones looking to purchase hats, jerseys, and more – for every team in the NFL, plus all teams in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision.
Once we collected data on every team across college and the pros, we combed through the data to discover the highest out of state search volume in every state in the country. It should be noted here that in the case of the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, we decided to simplify things and count all of New England and both Carolinas as the “home states” of those teams. In other words, states like Maine and South Carolina were treated the same as the actual states where the Pats and Panthers headquarters actually reside.
With only 32 teams to choose from, certain squads showed up time and again. Some of these teams, like the San Francisco 49ers, have fan outposts all across the country. Others, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, claim multiple states in the same geographic region.
Diving into regions, we wanted to know which out of state teams have the biggest overall fan presence in different parts of the country. To figure this out, we divided the United States up into the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West regions. We then consolidated the data found in the state-by-state map to discover which teams were the most popular in the highest number of states in each region.
For the most part, the results of this approach made sense. The Giants took the Northeast, the Bears dominated the Midwest, and the 49ers have the West hooked, giving them major bragging rights over their neighboring teams. One region bucked this trend, however, as the Steelers proved to be the most popular out of state squad in the South despite the team itself being located in the Northeastern part of the country.
Having found the most popular out of state teams in each state and region, we also wanted to tally the overall popularity of each team across the nation. Unsurprisingly, every team that claimed a region of the country finished as one of the eight most popular out of state teams overall, with the 49ers narrowly edging out the Steelers and Giants for the top spot – seven states to six. Joining those three teams and the Bears as top finishers are the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys, the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Tennessee Titans.
Of course we couldn’t forget about college football! Dominating the attention of campuses across the country on Saturdays, over 100 teams compete in the NCAA’s top division. By running the same analysis, college results were far more diverse than NFL results, with very few teams appearing more than once or twice across the country as you can see above.
While fan diversity clearly abounds, a few teams still managed to rise to regional prominence around the country. Stanford University, located in California, was able to claim the West region while Notre Dame paved a wide swathe of popularity across the Midwest. The results in the Northeast and the South were a little more unusual, however, as the Arizona Wildcats proved most popular in the Northeast and the Air Force Falcons dominated the South (despite being located in Colorado).
The Air Force Falcons aren’t the only service academy team with fans across the country, with the Army Black Knights joining in a four-way tie at the top of the most popular out of state NCAA squad list. Army and Air Force were joined by Stanford and Notre Dame for the top spot, with each team finishing first in three different states. Tulane, Florida, Cal, Bowling Green, and Arizona are the only other schools that were first in multiple states, at two each.
Whether your favorite team plays down the street or across the country, the return of football season is a reason to break out your team gear and celebrate. And while you can’t get official NFL or NCAA gear from us, you can use the design tools at Custom Ink to create the perfect jerseys or t-shirt design for your own gridiron gang!