Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills’ growing fandom shows how more people are rooting for players over teams

But analysis of recent internet research trends suggests that team loyalty like Lee may not be widespread in the age of free agency and social media. Many sports fans care more about individual players than teams.

This is seen throughout football, the sports industry and even across continents – Allen and Biles have proven a great example of this growing phenomenon.

Bills have historically Not It was a team with national appeal. It is based in the second smallest metropolitan area in the United States for a professional soccer team—according to the 2020 U.S. Census, Buffalo had a population of 1.17 million compared to New York City’s 20.14 million—whose games are rarely shown nationally.
However, I noticed something while reviewing the local TV markets that are broadcasting games this season. Not only were all Bills toys on display at the local market in Buffalo, but also at the Southeastern Wyoming market.

For those without a map, southeast Wyoming is thousands of miles from Buffalo. So why do people care there?

Well, for starters, Southeast Wyoming is home to the University of Wyoming, where Allen attended college and starred for the Cowboys. Also, the state doesn’t have its own NFL team, so it makes sense that they’d want to keep tabs on a local champion.
Allen throws for the Wyoming Cowboys against Boise State on October 21, 2017.

Former CBS CEO Steve Warner tells me that local television stations broadcast the Bills games because they know their viewers are interested in watching Allen play.

We can see how much attention Allen has gained in billing since his arrival by looking at Google’s search data.

The Allens Bills are the most searched team over the past year in New York, and not surprisingly, likely due to their back-to-back East Asian League titles, and recent New York Jets and Giants struggles.

It is also the second most searched team in Wyoming. To put that into perspective, there is no other state outside of the Northeast where there are bills even in the top five most searched for over the past year. The Bills were also ranked in the top two in Wyoming from March to August 2021 before the NFL season started, so people aren’t looking for the Wyoming Bills just to view their games there.

An examination of Google’s data in 2017 – before Allen arrived in Buffalo – shows that things were very different. While the Bills ranked #1 in searches in New York, they didn’t make the top 20 in Wyoming.

In other words, the data suggests that Allen is driving interest in billing among a group of people who previously had little interest in the Buffalo team.

Allen is no stranger in the NFL regarding this phenomenon.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert appears to be making a similar impact on soccer fans in Eugene, Oregon. Herbert of Eugene and the seat of his alma mater, the University of Oregon, there; Most Charger games are shown in Eugene; Many people in the area are searching for the team on Google.

During the 2021-2022 season, the Chargers were the most searched team in the Eugene region. Five years ago, chargers did not rank among the top 15 most searched for in the Eugene area.

It looks like Justin Herbert is going to face the Raiders of Las Vegas.

But it’s not just about college football fans who go after individual players. NFL fans do it too.

Quarterback Tom Brady has been a mainstay for the New England Patriots for two decades — until 2020, when he signed a multi-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

New England still loves its patriotic rockets, but now has a second love in pirates. The Buccaneers were the second most searched team in every New England state in 2021, with the exception of Connecticut.

In 2017, the Buccaneers weren’t even in the top 20 most searched for in any New England state.

No doubt Brady has over 10 million followers on Instagram making it easy for his fans to keep up with what he’s doing and root for it, no matter where he’s playing.
It’s a trend we’re also seeing in other sports. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, for example, has over 100 million followers on Instagram. That’s more than twice the population of California.

The basketball star clearly has fans in markets across the country – and in the world.

In Ohio, where James belongs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are always the most searched team on Google. But each time after James left — for the Miami Heat in 2010 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 — his new teams became the second most-searched team.

James is looking to pass the ball through the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The rooting of players at the expense of teams and the importance of social media seems to be more important at the international level. As my colleague Amy Lewis pointed out in 2018, football fans shift their loyalties from one team to another based on who plays for those clubs.
Someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, with nearly 400 million followers on Instagram, can make fans switch allegiances overnight. The clubs Ronaldo has joined have seen a huge rise in their social media.
Of course, when Ronaldo moves to the cities, those clubs can lose a lot of followers. Just ask Juventus, Ronaldo who left the Italian club before returning to Manchester United last season.
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Ronaldo responds during the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In the US, the importance of social media is not nearly the same, as American players have fewer followers at this point.

But with more fans joining social media and traditional media becoming less important, we shouldn’t be surprised to see players become more important than teams.

True, that wouldn’t be the case for a fan like me. I love my bills.


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