## Which teams have fewer fans than their namesake? I pretty much like this person’s reasoning except when we get to the chargers and raiders.

Someone pointed me to this delightful collection of short statistical analyses:

In the Chicago Bears roast thread, 69memelordharambe420 posted “There are more Bears than Bears fans.” That got me [the author of this post] thinking: Is that true? And more generally, which teams have fewer fans than there exist whatever they’re named after?

To start, I needed a rough estimate of the number of NFL fans in the world. This turned out to be difficult to find. I found several reasonable estimates that ranged from 200,000,000 to 400,000,000, but the average estimate seems to be about 300,000,000, so I decided to go with that. If you prefer a different estimate, you can easily scale all of the final numbers up or down as needed.

Of those 300,000,000, about 90%, or 270,000,000, consider themselves fans of one team in particular. To find out how these 270,000,000 fans apportion themselves among the 32 teams, I used this page, which lists how many likes each team has on Facebook (it lists the St. Louis Rams and the San Diego Chargers but still has accurate numbers for the Facebook likes, I checked), and calculated the total number of likes across the 32 teams: 91,712,968. Then, I took the number of likes for each team and multiplied it by 270,000,000/91,712,968 (then rounded to the nearest whole number) to get the best estimate that I was realistically going to be able to get for the total number of fans that each team has. Here are my results:

Bears: There are roughly 12,092,476 Bears fans. There are eight species of bear, plus the grizzly-polar hybrid. I won’t go through all of my calculations, but I came up with a final number of 1,148,364. There are more Bears fans than bears.

Lions: There are roughly 5,642,181 Lions fans. The worldwide lion population is somewhere around 20,000. There are more Lions fans than lions.

Packers: There are roughly 16,024,215 Packers fans. I don’t really feel like doing extensive research on the worldwide meatpacking industry, but the U.S. meatpacking industry employs about 148,100 and there is no way that there are a hundred times that number outside of the country. There are more Packers fans than packers.

Vikings: There are roughly 6,200,740 Vikings fans. The Viking Age ended nearly a millennium ago. There are more Vikings fans than Vikings.

. . .

He runs out of steam near the end. For example:

Chargers: There are roughly 4,700,430 Chargers fans. The Los Angeles Chargers don’t seem to have been named after an actual thing, so I’ll improvise. . . .

I followed the link, which goes to wikipedia, where it says:

Frank Leahy, picked the Chargers name when he purchased an AFL franchise for Los Angeles: “I liked it because they were yelling ‘charge’ and sounding the bugle at Dodger Stadium and at USC games.”

OK, fine, but I think when they yell “charge” (especially when following that bugle tune), they’re talking about a cavalry charge. So the number of “chargers” in the world would be the number of horses in cavalry around the world, or something like that. So I think it’s pretty clear there are more Chargers fans than chargers.

Similarly, the author writes:

There are roughly 10,099,869 Raiders fans. Meanwhile, a ‘raider’ isn’t really an actual thing.

But a “raider” is an actual thing, right? I’m thinking a raider is some kind of pirate, maybe a land pirate of some sort, like a Viking, more generally some kind of violent thief. So what we have to do is compare the number of Raiders fans to the number of muggers in the world. I’m too lazy to estimate that—I’ll leave this one to the criminologists in the audience—but I’m guessing that it’s less than 10 million. Hmmm, there are approx 8 billion people in the world, suppose that half are little kids or too old to mug, that give 4 billion, then we can assume that almost all the muggers are male, that’s 2 billion, hmmmm, if 0.1% of all men in the world are muggers, that would be 2 million muggers. For the number of muggers to be 10 million, we’d have to have approx 1/2 of 1% of all men in the world being muggers, and that just seems a bit high to me.

OK, I’ve done my part now.

P.S. Zad sent the above picture illustrating that there are more cats than fans of Cats.

1. Bruce McCullough says:

What about the Dodge Charger? Using the renowned “WebPlotDigitizer” to extract data from a chart, and applying it to the barplot of total Charger production at this website (https://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/charger/sales.html), it appears that between 1966 and 2014 there were slightly less than 1.9 million Chargers produced. Assuming they last forever gives a conservative upper bound on the number of Chargers still in existence. Comparing this to the previously asserted number of Chargers fans (4.7 million), we can safely conclude that there are more Charger fans than Chargers.

2. The photo falls short of proving the proposition. That cat, by the look of him, has at least three fans. I would guess around 15 and growing. Granted, that’s not true of all cats, but if you take this cat as somewhat typical, then we’re talking about 10 fans per cat. Now granted, some of these are serial cat-fans, people who fall for any adorable cat photo. But some are unique, one-time, one-stop cat fans; they adore only one or two cats at a time, cats they actually know. So we end up with an ambiguous situation. Maybe the cats outnumber the fans, maybe they don’t, but the photo could point to either conclusion, or to none at all.

• Andrew says:

Diana:

I didn’t write, “more cats than fans of cats.” I wrote, “more cats than fans of Cats.” The above picture demonstrates that there is at least one cat in the world. I think it’s safe to say that at this point there are zero fans of Cats (the musical). To break out the math . . . if c is the number of cats, and f_C is the number of fans of Cats, we have c >= 1 and f_C = 0; hence, c > f_C.

@ Diana Senechal, you’re definitely right. This cat (Rex) definitely has more than 15+ fans and the fanbase is probably growing!

https://gelmanstatdev.wpengine.com/2019/11/05/columbia-statistics-department-is-hiring/

3. jim says:

300M NFL fans seems like a pretty big stretch, considering the total population of the NFL’s major market, the US and Canada, is only 365M.

CNBC reported that the NFL expects to finish 2019 with 180M regular season viewers. That’s people who watch (some?) of a regular season game. That’s probably still high for NFL “fans”. No doubt there are some folks in Tuktoyaktuk who can’t even manage to catch a single game. But my guess is that the number of girlfriends and others who aren’t “fans” dragged into watching games is easily in the millions.

I guess it depends on exactly what you call a “fan” but I doubt even half of those 180M viewers are “fans” in the sense that they buy team gear or look forward to game day. But let’s call it half. So now there are 90M NFL fans, not 300M.

That means that there are only about 3.5M Raider’s fans, which means if 0.2% of the population are muggers, then there really are more “raiders” than Raider’s fans.

So there you go

• JFA says:

Yeah that number seemed quite a stretch. I know the NFL does exhibition games in London from time to time, but I don’t think the fandom of the NFL reaches far outside of the US and Canada. Not all football fans watch the Super Bowl (maybe they’re bitter about their team not making it), but I’d imagine most people who would consider themselves a fan of one team or another would watch the Super Bowl, either for enjoyment of the game or the commercials or to cheer against the team they hate the most. About 100M people watch the Super Bowl (not many stream it: https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/05/super-bowl-liii-set-streaming-records-while-tv-viewership-saw-massive-drop/). So even 90M fans might be a bit of a stretch.

• jim says:

I guess the question is what do you call a fan?

I’m really not a fan of any sport – maybe baseball – but sometimes I watch the finals or championship (super bowl, world series, Stanley cup etc). Championships have such a higher level of intensity than regular season games, which are a total snooze a lot of the time.

4. Terry says:

“Chargers” used to refer to a cavalry charge (or possibly an infantry charge), but the original meaning refers to a person who pays for a consumer purchase with a “credit” “card”, thereby “charging” the cost of the consumer item.

Many scholars believe this practice goes back to the Neolithic Period based on this documentary from the sixties called “The Flintstones,” which recreates various Neolithic cultural practices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rqNZAIQH4U.

5. Liorel says:

Since every electronic device in the world comes with one, and since it is safe to assume at least one fifth of all mankind owns a cellphone, I think it is safe to assume there are more chargers in the world than there are fans of Chargers.

Interestingly, many of said electronic devices have their own fan, which is necessary to dissipate the heat they generate.

6. The Cleveland Browns have a single namesake: Paul. It is quite possible they have zero fans. But that could easily go up to several fans, at least for a few games.

7. Jonathan (another one) says:

College football is clearly different:
There are orders of magnitude more Spiders than fans of Richmond, and many more Banana Slugs than UC Santa Cruz fans. And while there may be more Chicago Bears fans than Bears, what about the Bears of Pikeville, Bridgewater State, or Ursinus, to name a few?
While their populations may be under attack, I’m quite sure there are more Bees than fans of the Savannah College of Arts and Design. There aren’t that many bloodhounds, but I suspect the John Jay School of Criminal Justice doesn’t have a large fan base.
Even some very popular teams are outnumbered by their mascots: I think here of Ohio State (Buckeyes), Stanford (either Trees or Cardinals), Oregon (Ducks).
A special shoutout to Rowan, whose fans are probably outnumbered by Profs.
I think you can find many examples of mascots outnumbering the fanbase here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_college_sports_team_nicknames

• Dzhaughn says:

To nitpik, it’s the Stanford Cardinal, as in the color. Not a bunch of birds. Hence the tree. Even though trees are not cardinals. And trees have bunches of birds. But not cardinals, not in Palo Alto. Maybe they should got with the “Stanford Cardinality of the Continuum,” that could be huge.

How many buckeyes are there? It depends heavily on the season doesn’t it? Same with the Fighting Artichokes of Scottsdale CC. Although they irrigate down there so maybe it’s a year-round crop.

8. zbicyclist says:

This is almost certainly not true of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, currently 12th in the Eastern Conference.

• Martha (Smith) says:

Good point. Does anyone like real hornets? If so, either they (the people who like hornets) are pretty weird or hornets have sone socially redeeming qualities that I’m not aware of.

(Well, I looked it up on the web and found, “Despite their venomous sting and sometimes intimidating size, hornets also offer important benefits in their local ecosystem: They control arachnid and insect pests, and they pollinate flowers as they travel from plant to plant.” So I guess some people might like them.)