On Touchdowns and Tastes: This Sunday’s Conflict Of Fan-Interests

 

helmet images courtesy of http://nfl-franchises.findthedata.org

 

The greatest moment of fear in my childhood came on the eve of my first ever family trip to Manhattan. It wasn’t the flight or the crowds or the crime rate that had seven-year-old me scared. I was terrified because I had been brought up to believe that any and all Yankees fans were villainous scum, lowest of the low, the nadir of human development. Visiting the city and actually interacting with people from New York had an effect on me akin to realizing that there wasn’t a Santa Claus: I was faced with the reality that not all Yankees fans are evil. It just wasn’t mathematically feasible. You can’t run a city of 8 million people without having some people who don’t suck. This, of course, is a key part of the unspoken acknowledgement all (nonviolent & sane) sports fans have; that sports fandom is a mostly regional thing, and that there’s no point in thinking those who back another team are truly inferior, or even all that different from you.

However, if you told that to anyone from Baltimore or San Francisco right now, they’d likely try to argue for the ideological superiority of their respective squad. With the Super Bowl literally on the horizon, this is not a time where people deal in shades of gray. But are there any real, quantifiable differences between the fans of the Ravens and the 49ers? Anything else on the line in this contest?

Weirdly enough, yes. The Ranker correlation data for supporters of the Ravens and the 49ers is strikingly dissimilar. You’d think that there would be some commonalities between the likes and dislikes of the two teams, even just those that stem from the demographic features of “football fans”. But no, the pop culture tastes of the two teams have a strikingly miniscule amount of overlap.  Let us examine some of the correlations based on user behavior at Ranker.com.

For one, There is also absolutely zero consensus where music is concerned. 49er’s fans listen to an eclectic mixture of genres: up-and-coming rappers like Kendrick Lamar sit right next to INXS and 90s brit-poppers Pulp. Yet where the Ravens are concerned, classic rock is still king: Hendrix, CCR, and Neil Young are an undisputed top three. The 49ers also have the Ravens utterly beat in terms of culinary taste. Monterrey Jack and Cosmos are a fairly clear favorite among fans, while Baltimore’s stick to staples: Coffee, Bell peppers, and Ham are the only food items that correlated enough to even be tracked.

 A Snapshot from Ranker’s Data Mining Tool

TV tastes also varied between the two teams: Ravens fans stuck to almost exclusively comedic faire (Pinky and The Brain, Rugrats, Mythbusters and Louie correlated strongly), while the 49er’s stuck to more structured, dramatic shows, such as The Walking Dead and Dexter.

Some of these differences can be explained away geographically (In-and-Out Burger, a prominent correlated item for the 49ers, isn’t going to appeal to anyone on the east coast since they just don’t have it), but when the data is stacked up, there is a very noticeable dissimilarity in interests between the two teams. One could, of course, use this data to try to advocate for the superiority of one team over the other (I won’t even get into the far more extensive video game tastes of the 49er’s). However, the far more intriguing question at hand lies in what we all really watch the Super Bowl for: the ads.

If, as the data suggests, there is such a difference between the interests of the average 49er’s fan and the average Ravens fan, how will the ads attempt to bridge this gap? Since I could give a damn about the score (neither team is the Pats, who cares), I’ll be keeping track instead of whose team’s interests are catered to by the adverts. On Sunday, one team will win on the field, and another during the commercials.

- Eamon Levesque

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