Americans love their sports teams. Rooting for their favorite franchise offers camaraderie with other fans as well as a well-earned escape from the stresses of daily life (especially when their team wins).
Some pro teams have garnered such an enormous amount of fan support that they deserve to be ranked among the most popular sports teams in America. To compile a list of the 10 most popular, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report by odds comparison experts Sidelines.io, which analyzed 150 sports teams in the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS and NHL. Each team’s number of followers on Instagram, as well as Instagram mentions, engagement rate, and average likes and the average attendance per home game at their home stadium was considered. Each team was given a score out of points out of 10 for each factor, which was then totaled to give a score on the popularity index.
The two most popular teams play in the National Basketball League, and both are based in California. The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors placed No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. What makes those teams so popular? Winning definitely breeds a loyal fan base. The Lakers have taken the trophy 17 times, while the Warriors have won seven championships, the most recent in 2022.
Longevity helps, too. Franchises that have been around for a long time build a long-standing, and large following. The Los Angeles Lakers were originally founded in 1946 as the Detroit Gems. The next year, the team moved to Minneapolis and changed its name to the Lakers to honor the state’s nickname of “Land of a Thousand Lakes.” By the 1960-61 season, the team moved to Los Angeles, where it’s been a successful franchise for decades, with such notable players as Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and now LeBron James donning a Lakers jersey. (The last three of those number among the most popular NBA MVPs of all time.)
Among the other teams on this list, five are in the NFL, and three of those – the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Francisco 49ers – played in the league championship games on January 29. This year’s Super Bowl face-off was decided when the Chiefs beat the Bengals and the 49ers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. (These are the teams that have lost all of their Super Bowls.)
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