A new study from Emory University demonstrates that New York is the NFL market most accommodating on Twitter toward gay NFL prospect Michael Sam, while Nashville is the least receptive.
The study analyzed tweets from all 31 NFL markets (both the Jets and Giants are included in the New York market) to determine how various NFL fan bases felt about Sam's arrival in professional football. From the study's authors:
We were interested in looking at how the fans in NFL cities feel about Michael Sam. In order to do this, we collected all tweets mentioning “Michael Sam” in the 31 NFL markets for the past 2 days (2/9 morning – 2/11 morning). The tweets were sorted by market, and analyzed for positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Looking at the ratio of positive, negative, and neutral tweets allowed us to compare Twitter sentiment for Michael Sam across NFL Markets.
Following New York is St. Louis, perhaps unsurprisingly as Sam played college football at Missouri, whose Columbia campus is roughly a two-hour drive from St. Louis. Kansas City, also geographically close to Sam's alma mater, is ranked No. 7. The top ten most receptive cities are below:
- New York
- St. Louis
- San Francisco
- Kansas City
The five least receptive NFL markets, according to the study, are Nashville, Oakland, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and San Diego.
The study obviously cannot present a complete picture as fan sentiment cannot be measured scientifically, particularly in terms of tweets. Also, fans often do not live within the team's official market; Green Bay Packers fans, for example, are widespread throughout the country. However, the study gives some idea of the NFL markets that would potentially be most welcoming toward Sam when he officially joins a team.
Sam, the reigning SEC defensive player of the year, is expected to become the first openly gay player in NFL history. After coming out to his Missouri teammates prior to the 2013 season, the defensive lineman finished the year with 11.5 sacks and helped the Tigers finish the year 12-2, including a victory in the Cotton Bowl.