Last Updated: 7 September 2022, Author: AceOdds.com
What does it mean to be a fan? Or to be a little more specific, an American football fan?
Is it to love your team unconditionally? Maybe. But then, where does that leave all our other emotions? Watching sport is sometimes like pulling your heart out of your chest and throwing it onto the field. Sometimes it returns safe and sound, sometimes it gets crushed into little tiny pieces. C’est la vie.
Let’s face it, some teams are easier to love than others. Some of them win all the time, collect back to back championships, generally make you feel proud to support them and belong to that community. Then others are just the Arizona Cardinals.
But is it just wall-to-wall success that makes a team easy to love? Or does true love run deeper?
Here at AceOdds, we’ve taken a scientific approach to find out exactly how football plays with our emotions - by observing something called ‘fan sentiment’. We’ve trawled social media to find out the five key emotions that get brought up time and time again when football teams are mentioned.
These emotions are as follows: love, laughter, sadness, anger and wonder.
When a team is mentioned online, we categorized social reactions into each of these five sentiments to see what is the dominant emotion evoked by each team.
The purest feeling in the world, especially when it comes to football. Fans are fanatical, it’s in the name, to love something so single mindedly - sometimes uncontrollably - can be a little confusing to some. But you just love them, so it just makes sense.
Supporting your team won’t always be sunshine and roses, but the best teams give you a reason to love them. They give their all on the field and even if they don’t win every single trophy you know they’ve competed with all their heart.
The easiest teams to love
One of the greatest equalizers of supporting a team that isn’t at their best, is being able to laugh at someone else’s team who’s going through a worse misfortune. Schadenfreude is rife in football.
A good natured spirit and the ability to laugh at your own team when it’s in real trouble is a sign of good character. After all, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, right?
Teams who provide the most laughs
Speaking of crying, our sports teams are a prime source of sadness in some of our lives.
The feeling we get when our expectations don’t quite meet our reality, sadness comes in many forms - whether that be that your team can never compete or they competed a little too well until it came to the crunch and the dream was lost. Ah well, there’s always next year, right?
Teams who depress their fans
Like sadness’s evil twin, anger is a feeling many of us get when we’ve been sad a little too many times. We’ve become jaded with our team, we think they’ve stopped trying and they’re a constant annoyance in our lives.
If watching your team causes your doctor to sit you down and address serious concerns about your blood pressure though, maybe you need to find a new sport. Professional meditating, perhaps?
Teams who induce the most anger
Likely the emotion that brought us into the sport in the first place, wonder and awe is what overcomes us when we see something truly incredible happen on the field.
Childlike wonder is hard to come by in sport, it’s only reserved for the best of the best moments. When it does happen, oh boy, you’re right back to being that small kid staring at a field much bigger than you are, dazzled by the amazingness of it all.
However, wow-factor isn’t always a good thing. It can also amount to the capacity for your team to shock you - and sometimes this isn’t in a nice way. Whether they’ve sacked a long term manager, signed a player who isn’t particularly popular or lost a player who was crucial to your team, not all surprises are a good one!
Teams with the biggest wow factor
An age-old debate in the US, what is better: college or pro football?
College football was around long before the NFL, with the first recorded game happening in 1869 when Rutgers played New Jersey (who we now call Princeton). The NFL didn’t occur till 1920, 51 years later, when the Dayton Triangles faced off against the Columbus Panhandles.
It’s not just history that college football has on its side, supporting a college team evokes stronger, more positive emotions than supporting a pro team in the NFL.
College teams are far more loved en masse when compared to pro teams, according to our research. Not only that, they’re all far less likely to cause you negative emotions like sadness or anger.
Hundreds of thousands of online press articles over the last year mentioning each football team were analyzed using Buzzsumo, to find out which emoji people are using to react to news about each team.