Cowboys, Steelers fans rank as NFL's 'best,' new study finds

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Cowboys, Steelers fans rank as NFL's 'best,' new study finds
Cowboys, Steelers fans rank as NFL's 'best,' new study finds

Hate Cowboys fans? Hate Steelers fans? (Come on. You've got to hate at least one of them.) Well, now you've got yet another reason to hate them: they're better than your team, judging by some new social and analytical metrics.

The Sports Marketing Analytics project at Emory University tracks a variety of statistical measures to track fan loyalty. The project, the product of professors Mike Lewis and Manish Tripathi, has determined that the fan bases of Dallas and Pittsburgh rank at the top of two important statistical categories.

Dallas leads the way in "Fan Equity," a metric designed to track just how much a fanbase supports its team financially. The ranking is an average of the last three years, but even so, Dallas has led in this category for five years. Rounding out the top five are the fan bases of the Patriots, Jets, Giants, and Colts.

At the bottom of the list? Buffalo, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Miami, and Oakland, though you can expect Cleveland to vacate that spot before long. (Full listing below.) Don't like where your team ranks? Open up your wallet, slick.

The project combines its measurements of Fan Equity with a social media component, tracking how well its fans follow the team's exploits across social media. In that regard, the Steelers hold the upper hand, edging out the Cowboys for the top slot. Also in the top five: New England, Green Bay, and New Orleans. At the bottom of the social-media rankings: Washington, San Diego, Carolina, St. Louis, and Arizona. ("Fan Fact," the project's authors write. "The Cardinals have about 100,000 Twitter followers compared to about 80,000 for the Cowboys’ cheerleaders.")

The social media metric isn't constrained by, say, the size of a stadium or a fan's willingness to spend. But there is, of course, a self-selection at work here: you may be the biggest Packers fan in Wisconsin, but if you don't know your Facebook from your Twitter, you're not going to make a dent in this particular measurement.

Here are the complete rankings:

Via Emory Sports Marketing Analytics
Via Emory Sports Marketing Analytics

There's more interesting material to be found at the website, including why the Seahawks rank so low on Fan Equity and which teams might be able to continue to jack up prices and still sell out. (Good news for those fans!) Check it out, see what you think. And remember: this is a measurement of YOU.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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