Most Successful State in Pro Sports


The passion that a true sports fan feels for his/her favorite team can be unparalleled in the entertainment/pop culture world today. Even if you are not a big fan of sports or make every effort to ignore them, there is almost always at least one professional sports team that every American can relate to in one way or the other. Whether it be your hometown team, current city, family's historical team, team that a family member or friend are involved in, or simply the one with the coolest jerseys, most people can connect with a professional organization. Professional sports are one of the biggest markets in the entire world, bringing in millions of dollars in revenue and profits every single season. The age-old debate of who is the top state when it comes to pro sports can be settled by mashing together the statistics to create a clear hierarchy. For the sake of clarity and time, this data set was compiled focusing on the four most popular and widely covered professional sports leagues in the US: the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. Also, take note that all teams that are involved in the data sets are either current, modern teams, or were in existence for at least 5 seasons and are relevant to that state's sports history. (Notable teams left off data charts: New Jersey Americans, Massachusetts Redskins, California Golden Seals).

The first key fact to notice is that not all states have a professional sports team. In fact, only half of the states in the US (25) have at least one professional sport in one or more of the four major sports. Sorry Iowa, but you can't participate in this. The following map shows each state that is involved in the data set, including how many teams in each state are contributing statistics. 

States with Teams in at least 1 of 4 Major Sports

Page Title
Professional Sports Teams by State
Page Title
ArizonaCardinalsArizona
ArizonaCoyotesArizona
ArizonaSunsArizona
ArizonaDiamondbacksArizona
CaliforniaClippersCalifornia
CaliforniaKingsCalifornia
California49ersCalifornia
CaliforniaKingsCalifornia
CaliforniaSharksCalifornia
CaliforniaChargersCalifornia
CaliforniaRaidersCalifornia
CaliforniaDucksCalifornia
CaliforniaRamsCalifornia
CaliforniaPadresCalifornia
CaliforniaAngelsCalifornia
CaliforniaLakersCalifornia
CaliforniaDodgersCalifornia
CaliforniaGiantsCalifornia
CaliforniaAthleticsCalifornia
CaliforniaWarriorsCalifornia
ColoradoBroncosColorado
ColoradoAvalancheColorado
ColoradoNuggetsColorado
ColoradoRockiesColorado
FloridaDolphinsFlorida
FloridaJaguarsFlorida
FloridaMagicFlorida
FloridaPantersFlorida
FloridaLighningFlorida
FloridaBuccaneersFlorida
FloridaHeatFlorida
FloridaMarlinsFlorida
GeorgiaBravesGeorgia
GeorgiaHawksGeorgia
GeorgiaFalconsGeorgia
IllinoisBlackhawksIllinois
IllinoisCubsIllinois
IllinoisBullsIllinois
IllinoisBearsIllinois
IllinoisCardinalsIllinois
IllinoisWhite SoxIllinois
IndianaPistonsIndiana
IndianaColtsIndiana
IndianaPacersIndiana
LouisianaJazzLouisiana
LouisianaHornetsLouisiana
LouisianaSaintsLouisiana
MarylandBulletsMaryland
MarylandRavensMaryland
MarylandOriolesMaryland
MarylandColtsMaryland
MassachusettsCelticsMassachusetts
MassachusettsBravesMassachusetts
MassachusettsPatriotsMassachusetts
MassachusettsRed SoxMassachusetts
MassachusettsBruinsMassachusetts
MichiganLionsMichigan
MichiganTigersMichigan
MichiganRed WingsMichigan
MichiganPistonsMichigan
MinnesotaTimberwolvesMinnesota
MinnesotaWildMinnesota
MinnesotaLakersMinnesota
MinnesotaVikingsMinnesota
MinnesotaTwinsMinnesota
MissouriAthleticsMissouri
MissouriCardinalsMissouri
MissouriBrownsMissouri
MissouriRoyalsMissouri
MissouriKingsMissouri
MissouriBluesMissouri
MissouriCardinalsMissouri
MissouriChiefsMissouri
MissouriRamsMissouri
MissouriHawksMissouri
New JerseyGiantsNew Jersey
New JerseyJetsNew Jersey
New JerseyDevilsNew Jersey
New JerseyNetsNew Jersey
New YorkYankeesNew York
New YorkNetsNew York
New YorkBillsNew York
New YorkRangersNew York
New YorkMetsNew York
New YorkDodgersNew York
New YorkGiantsNew York
New YorkSabresNew York
New YorkKnicksNew York
New YorkBravesNew York
New YorkRoyalsNew York
New YorkIslandersNew York
North CarolinaBobcatsNorth Carolina
North CarolinaPanthersNorth Carolina
North CarolinaHurricanesNorth Carolina
North CarolinaHornetsNorth Carolina
OhioCavaliersOhio
OhioBengalsOhio
OhioBrownsOhio
OhioRedsOhio
OhioBlue JacketsOhio
OhioRamsOhio
OhioRoyalsOhio
OhioIndiansOhio
OklahomaThunderOklahoma
OregonTrail BlazersOregon
Pennsylvania76ersPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaFlyersPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaEaglesPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaWarriorsPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaPiratesPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaSteelersPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaPhilliesPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaPenguinsPennsylvania
PennsylvaniaAthleticsPennsylvania
TennesseePredatorsTennessee
TennesseeTitansTennessee
TennesseeGrizzliesTennessee
TexasOilersTexas
TexasRocketsTexas
TexasSpursTexas
TexasTexansTexas
TexasStarsTexas
TexasAstrosTexas
TexasMavericksTexas
TexasRangersTexas
TexasCowboysTexas
UtahJazzUtah
Washington StateSeahawksWashington State
Washington StateSonicsWashington State
Washington StateMarinersWashington State
Washington, D.C.SenatorsWashington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.NationalsWashington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.CapitolsWashington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.WizardsWashington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.RedskinsWashington, D.C.
WisconsinBucksWisconsin
WisconsinBrewersWisconsin
WisconsinBravesWisconsin
WisconsinPackersWisconsin

For example, hovering over Colorado will tell you that four professional sports teams were analyzed from that state.

Another important factor to keep in mind is many professional sports teams have moved locations one or more times, usually transferring to a different state. Reasons for these historic moves include change in ownership, new stadiums being built, lack of current funding, or basically a marketing move to cater to an entirely new demographic. To account for this anomaly and to keep my final numbers accurate per state, I gave every state credit for the seasons that a particular team played in that state, even if they moved locations and are currently playing in a different state. For example,  the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA played 41 seasons while located in Washington State, until the team was bought out and relocated to Oklahoma City under the new name Thunder. The Thunder have played 8 seasons so far. So in the final numbers, Washington State got credit for those 41 seasons, and Oklahoma got credit for the past 8 seasons. If you would like to view a list of the best and worst team relocations in history, check it out @ http://business.time.com/2012/09/24/10-best-worst-sports-team-relocations-in-history/slide/worst-barons-nhl/ 


NBA Logo


NHL Logo


MLB Logo


NFL Logo

These bar charts show the amount of teams per state that contributed to the data set, categorized by sport. The main picture to take away from these is the states that didn’t contribute any numbers for one or more sports. For instance, Oklahoma only has an NBA team. Also, only 18 states have one or more NHL teams. The cumulative bar chart shows how many total teams per sport per state contributed. It shows how large of a data set just California is.


NFL Teams Per State


NBA Teams Per State


  • MLB Teams Per State


NHL Teams Per State


MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL Teams Per State Participating



The Process:

            In order to understand the conclusion of my research, you first need to be able to follow along the process that I took to get the final numbers. As a sample, here is a picture of what my master Excel spreadsheet looked like for each state. All professional sports teams are listed for California, along with number of seasons played (3rd column), cumulative winning percentage for those years (4th column), and in the 5th column I multiplied seasons and winning percentage to get an average. To calculate California’s overall winning percentage, I added up the entire 5th column (average) and divided it by total amount of seasons played (3rd column). This gave me an accurate number for each state’s total win percentage.




The scatter plot just gives a bigger picture of how the number of seasons relates to the winning percentage, and where the historically successful teams fall on this scale.


Number of seasons and Winning pct. of Winning pct. datacards


If you would like to get more detailed information on historically successful franchises, you can check out this separate data visualization done by BestTicketsBlog. http://www.besttickets.com/blog/winners-losers-pro-sports/



The final data cards show the conclusion of my research. The table shows just how close the numbers were for every state, most of them separated by 0.01 or more.

Following my procedure, Oklahoma is technically the state with the greatest overall record. However, going back to earlier, this seems to be inaccurate or at least frustrating because Oklahoma only had one team contribute data: the Oklahoma Thunder who have played only 8 successful seasons in the NBA. Even with my mathematical process of finding the average, this still seems unfair. The number 2 state in overall winning percentage? Utah, who also only had one team contribute: the Utah Jazz (even though they have been around for many seasons). From then on things seem to make more sense, with almost all states floating right around that .50 mark, however every state has an accurate total winning percentage, creating the hierarchy I wanted.



Final datacards grouped by Overall Winning %


Overall Winning % of Final datacards



Going through this project I felt good about my process and the accuracy of my data. Creating the master spreadsheet was time consuming, and I ended up having to modify it into multiple smaller spreadsheets to be able to produce silk visualizations. It was pretty frustrating to get to the end of this long, tedious procedure and end up with the conclusion that I reached. I don’t see any other way of mashing together all 4 main professional sports to find out which state is the most successful over time. The only way to clean my findings up would be to do separate reports on each sport’s history per state, as opposed to combining them all into one data set.