The New York Times has been having fun with maps and Facebook data to find out where sports team allegiances lie. They did a pretty nifty map of Major League Baseball a while back and have now turned their attention to the NBA.
We can now definitively see where Magic fans are. Take a look:
Yes, that is a lot of purple for the Lakers all throughout the nation and the Heat seem pretty popular too throughout the state of Florida. Where the Magic are popular is where you would expect — Central Florida going out to the East Coast in Brevard and Volusia County. This is the hub of Magic central.
The New York Times noticed specifically how small the pockets of fans are in the South with some of the expansion teams that have come in that area — the Grizzlies, Hawks, Magic and Pelicans specifically. Take a look at the close up of the map and what they had to say:
As one can see, much of the area skews toward the Heat. That (hopefully) is just because they are good and ESPN insists on bombarding us with all things Miami Heat at all times (I digress).
But the trend is noticeable as the New York Times notes:
Small-market teams, especially those that have not had much postseason success lately, tend to have small bases of support. This is easiest to see in four Southern teams: the Pelicans, the Grizzlies, the Bobcats and the Magic. Those teams don’t have a long history, so it makes sense that they don’t have established fan bases yet. Another Southern team with limited support, the Hawks, has been around longer and have a bigger market. But the Atlanta franchise has never won an N.B.A. title and the team has struggled in recent seasons. It’s good to be a fan, but it’s better being one in fair weather.
It is very interesting food for thought.
Taking a look at the interactive map from The New York Times, it is kind of surprising to look at the numbers.
According to the map, only 35 percent of residents in Orange County consider themselves a Magic fan first and foremost. The Heat and Lakers came second at 15 and 11 percent. Seminole and Lake County actually have a higher ratio of Magic fans among their population.
The study used Facebook likes as its inexact measurement of team popularity. So there are probably general adjustments. What has become clear is that the Heat and the Lakers are the nation’s favorite teams. There is no getting around that.