PPP summer fellow Curtis Labban conducted a poll about sports in North Carolina. The full results are here. This is his take on what they mean:
The results for this poll were not in all surprising, in that the Carolina Panthers and the Carolina Tar Heels are two of the most popular and lucrative franchises in the state, however I find it kinda sad that the Charlotte Bobcats and the Carolina Hurricanes get no love from the state.
When the Hornets were still in Charlotte they were one of the most loved teams in North Carolina, and also a team that received a lot of respect from abroad (I've seen many people wearing Hornets jerseys outside the state, and the country as well). It of course didn't follow that the love would be passed down to the Bobcats. One obvious reason is that the Bobcats were an expansion team and have had little overall success in the NBA so far, but one would think that the brand-new Bobcats Arena in downtown Charlotte might have drawn more crowds than it has. On the other end, the Carolina Hurricanes still get little respect from North Carolinians. No, hockey has not caught on in the South, and no, the Hurricanes don't do a great job of marketing the team across the state, but due to the success that the team has had in the past 10 years (2 Stanley Cup Finals appearances, with 1 Championship) one might think that people would start watching. The main reason is the lack of ability to even watch NHL games, since ESPN pulled out before the lockout, but I still find it surprising that 18% of the state didn't even know that they had a professional hockey team.
Other findings from the poll were that the state generally favors the Tar Heels over the Blue Devils, with 57% pulling for the Heels over the 32% that favored the Blue Devils. It also found, surprisingly, that only 40% of North Carolinians avidly support one or more Atlantic Coast Conference athletic program. Given the tremendous amount of pride that the ACC takes in its football and basketball success over the years, it seems as though many more people would claim to follow at least one team, be it their alma-mater or a school that is geographically close.