Football is a religion in the South. Autumn Saturdays are for each of us to worship with our individual denominations (SEC or ACC) and congregations (UGA, Tech, Bama, or Clemson), while Sundays are a time for Southerners to unite behind one professional team. But Falcons fans might be chagrined to learn that the region as a whole isn’t eager to Rise Up along with us.
When it’s not being used to ping you with pop-up credit card ads—or rat you out to the government—Facebook data can show fascinating sociological patterns. Back in the spring, the company released numbers on which baseball teams users “liked,” and the New York Times used the info to produce a staggeringly complex analysis of fandom. Now Facebook has done the same thing for pro football, creating a color-coded map indicating, by county, where a particular team’s fans dominate.
A look at the map shows that, like the Braves, the Falcons have a firm grip on Georgia, crimson even encroaching into Eastern Alabama. Florida—if we HAVE to count Florida—is patched together by Dolphins, Buccaneers, and Jags fans. Carolina is Panther country and Tennessee is bright Titan red. But the rest of the South is a gaudy shade of the fool’s gold spewing forth from New Orleans. Most of Bama. Almost all of Mississippi and, of course, Louisiana. Even parts of Arkansas have been corrupted by Who Dats.
On the other hand, another way of looking at it is that, as heated as our rivalry with New Orleans is, Saints fans appear to be the only buffer between us and the dreaded Dallas Cowboy Empire.