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Is Football an Eastern (U.S.) Sport?

Watching the Super Bowl yesterday, it struck me that it’s been a while since a West Coast team has taken home the Lombardi Trophy.  While I was pretty sure I could remember the last 20 Super Bowl winners or so, I looked up the winners this decade just to check my facts . . .

Year

Team

2000 Baltimore Ravens
2001 NE Patriots
2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2003 NE Patriots
2004 NE Patriots
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
2006 Indianapolis Colts
2007 NY Giants
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers

[Note: Yesterday was the 2008 Super Bowl – that’s how the NFL does it, the championship for the 2008 season]

Hmmm.  Interesting.  Every winner this decade has represented a city east of the Mississippi.  What makes this so strange to me is that when I was younger, it seemed that western teams always dominated the NFL.  In fact, only 6 of the previous 20 Super Bowl winners were from the eastern U.S. (although St. Louis and Dallas can hardly be considered West Coast).

So, is pro football really an East Coast sport?  The NFL has worked hard for many years to achieve parity among its teams.  Parity is supposed to create a more competitive environment and one, of course, that attracts more fans.  So if there’s parity, why do eastern teams win so often lately?  And if pro football isn’t an eastern U.S. sport, why does the biggest city in the country, a western city – Los Angeles – not have a single team?

Could it really be that professional football is an eastern sport?

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 February 2nd, 2009  
 Will  
 Sports  
   
 8 Comments

8 Responses to Is Football an Eastern (U.S.) Sport?

  1. Will – interesting trend, but stats can show lots of interesting things. Another interesting thing about Super Bowls this decade is that they have all been pretty close (OK the Ravens killed the Giants). When you look at the teams that came up just a little short, but made it to the big game, some of them are Seattle, Arizona, St Louis, Chicago and Oakland (I dont remember the rest). Not eastern teams per se. I think this stuff evens out over time.

    What I do think is that in the Southern US there is a big difference between college and pro football. I was listening to a guy from Georgia, now living in Florida last week. He was talking about those crazy pro football fans from NY, NE and Philly. He said, those guys love their pro teams almost as much as we love our college football teams. That summed it up for me.

  2. Will – interesting trend, but stats can show lots of interesting things. Another interesting thing about Super Bowls this decade is that they have all been pretty close (OK the Ravens killed the Giants). When you look at the teams that came up just a little short, but made it to the big game, some of them are Seattle, Arizona, St Louis, Chicago and Oakland (I dont remember the rest). Not eastern teams per se. I think this stuff evens out over time.

    What I do think is that in the Southern US there is a big difference between college and pro football. I was listening to a guy from Georgia, now living in Florida last week. He was talking about those crazy pro football fans from NY, NE and Philly. He said, those guys love their pro teams almost as much as we love our college football teams. That summed it up for me.

  3. Per Al Michaels, in the last ten (actually 12) Super Bowls the NFC has won the coin toss. Why has the NFC dominated the coin toss like that?

    The east coast dominance is an interesting pattern but unless there is a particular causal relationship it’s just a random pattern resulting from your choice of years.

  4. Per Al Michaels, in the last ten (actually 12) Super Bowls the NFC has won the coin toss. Why has the NFC dominated the coin toss like that?

    The east coast dominance is an interesting pattern but unless there is a particular causal relationship it’s just a random pattern resulting from your choice of years.

  5. Alan,

    Yeah, I totally agree that it’s not about dominance and it really doesn’t mean anything. I’m just taking advantage of the situation to get back at all my west coast “friends” who gave me a hard time for so many years about western versus eastern sports.

    No question that college sports are much more polarizing. Like you say, especially in the south.

  6. Alan,

    Yeah, I totally agree that it’s not about dominance and it really doesn’t mean anything. I’m just taking advantage of the situation to get back at all my west coast “friends” who gave me a hard time for so many years about western versus eastern sports.

    No question that college sports are much more polarizing. Like you say, especially in the south.

  7. Dave,

    Well, it’s obvious . . . the NFC has won the coin toss because they need the most help. The AFC is better and God is cutting the NFC a break. Duh.

    I agree that it’s mostly random, although I think there must be some reason for it. It’s not like I’m picking non-contiguous years. There are decades when a single team is dominant which can bias the results – you certainly can call the Patriots that with three Super Bowls in the selected period and the Steelers with two.

    My guess is that divisions, in which teams play each other two times a piece, create a micro-competitive environment that influence the investments made by all teams in that division. If one team invests heavily in building a high quality team, the other teams in that division follow suit. Perhaps over the last decade, a couple of eastern divisions had such internal competitions. The fact that more than one eastern division went through this at the same time, is totally random.

  8. Dave,

    Well, it’s obvious . . . the NFC has won the coin toss because they need the most help. The AFC is better and God is cutting the NFC a break. Duh.

    I agree that it’s mostly random, although I think there must be some reason for it. It’s not like I’m picking non-contiguous years. There are decades when a single team is dominant which can bias the results – you certainly can call the Patriots that with three Super Bowls in the selected period and the Steelers with two.

    My guess is that divisions, in which teams play each other two times a piece, create a micro-competitive environment that influence the investments made by all teams in that division. If one team invests heavily in building a high quality team, the other teams in that division follow suit. Perhaps over the last decade, a couple of eastern divisions had such internal competitions. The fact that more than one eastern division went through this at the same time, is totally random.