The Super Bowl is fast approaching and fan allegiances, many long lost to the regular season and others evolving as the playoffs press on, have come down to this: the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens. But how'd we get there? And which parts of America have jumped on which bandwagon?
Sean Taylor at Facebook's Data Science team analyzed how "likes" for NFL teams get divided across the country, noting that "winning" plays a role in getting fans on team Facebook pages. As Taylor points out, some teams' fan bases are very specific regionally — Patriots fans are concentrated in New England — while others have supporters that aren't connected by specific geography at all. Note, for instance, how widespread the blue-grey of Cowboys fans is around the country, or how the Steelers, represented by yellow, dominate Hawaii and a significant chunk of Alaska:
The Facebook team then remakes the map by eliminating teams as they were eliminated in each round of this year's playoffs. In the semifinals Patriots nation seemed to cover, well, much of the nation, save for a West Coast enclave of support for the 49ers:
But when the Pats were eliminated in the AFC Championship game, 49ers fandom spread quickly across the country (or at least Facebook), ultimately leaving us with this redrawn map of the pre-Super Bowl allegiances — the Ravens don't appear to have made up much ground:
You can check out the full, round-by-round evolution of fandom over at Facebook.