Before computers ruled our lives, before the Internet connected everyone to everything, relevance was a far more subjective attainment. Stardom was a feel, degrees of which were debatable.
Nowadays, with our ability to measure the relative joy in/admiration for/tolerance of almost anything thanks to Internet analytics, we have measures for relevance. Things like web hits, Twitter trending topics, Facebook "Likes." Self-esteem used to have no statistical measurement. Now it has Twitter followers.
These measurements have become incredibly handy in sports (especially in the content-driven part like radio and blogs), as we can truly see in numerical form which athletes/personalities are moving the needle.
To that end, how about this latest bit of data?
According to besttickets.com, America appears to have completely forgiven LeBron James four years after the "Decision" fiasco that led to his signing with the Miami Heat, as he was the most Googled athlete in 24 of 50 states, including his home state of Ohio. Here is the complete state-by-state list of winners:
ALABAMA: LeBron James ALASKA: LeBron James ARIZONA: LeBron James ARKANSAS: LeBron James CALIFORNIA: Kobe Bryant COLORADO: Peyton Manning CONNECTICUT: LeBron James DELAWARE: LeBron James FLORIDA: LeBron James GEORGIA: LeBron James HAWAII: Manti Te'o IDAHO: LeBron James ILLINOIS: Derrick Rose INDIANA: Peyton Manning IOWA: Adrian Peterson KANSAS: Andrew Wiggins KENTUCKY: Andrew WIggins LOUISIANA: LeBron James MAINE: Tom Brady MARYLAND: LeBron James MASSACHUSETTS: Tom Brady MICHIGAN: LeBron James MINNESOTA: Adrian Peterson MISSISSIPPI: LeBron James MISSOURI: LeBron James MONTANA: Peyton Manning NEBRASKA: LeBron James NEVADA: Floyd Mayweather NEW HAMPSHIRE: Tom Brady NEW JERSEY: LeBron James NEW MEXICO: Peyton Manning NEW YORK: LeBron James NORTH CAROLINA: LeBron James NORTH DAKOTA: Adrian Peterson OHIO: LeBron James OKLAHOMA: Kevin Durant OREGON: LeBron James PENNSYLVANIA: LeBron James RHODE ISLAND: Tom Brady SOUTH CAROLINA: LeBron James SOUTH DAKOTA: Adrian Peterson TENNESSEE: Peyton Manning TEXAS: Johnny Manziel UTAH: LeBron James VERMONT: Tiger Woods VIRGINIA: LeBron James WASHINGTON: Russell Wilson WEST VIRGINIA: Geno Smith WISCONSIN: Aaron Rodgers WYOMING: Peyton Manning
Sorted by number of states won, the rankings look like this:
ATHLETE RANKINGS (# of states) 24 - LeBron James 6 - Peyton Manning 4 - Adrian Peterson 4 - Tom Brady 2 - Andrew Wiggins 1 - Aaron Rodgers 1 - Derrick Rose 1 - Floyd Mayweather 1 - Geno Smith 1 - Johnny Manziel 1 - Kevin Durant 1 - Kobe Bryant 1 - Manti Te'o 1 - Russell Wilson 1 - Tiger Woods
A few observations from the data:
* Generally speaking, most states are ruled by one of two things -- LeBron or the NFL. The biggest stars in the NFL have a clear regional appeal, with Peyton Manning owning virtually all of the Mountain time zone (not to mention the two states he's played in other than Colorado -- Indiana and Tennessee), Adrian Peterson owning the upper Midwest and Tom Brady taking two thirds of New England.
* One last time: If the Houston Texans want to gain relevance in their own state and usurp some of the Dallas Cowboys' buzz, they have the first pick in the draft and the most Googled athlete in the state on the board at a position of need. Just sayin'.
* Taking a look at the list by sport...
27 - NBA 18 - NFL 2 - College Basketball 1 - College Football 1 - Boxing 1 - Golf
....all I have to say is, poor baseball.
* Finally, if Google were used to elect our commander in chief, the electoral vote count would look like this:
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274 - LeBron James 55 - Kobe Bryant 42 - Peyton Manning 38 - Johnny Manziel 23 - Tom Brady 22 - Adrian Peterson 20 - Derrick Rose 14 - Andrew Wiggins 12 - Russell Wilson 10 - Aaron Rodgers 7 - Kevin Durant 6 - Floyd Mayweather 5 - Geno Smith 4 - Manti Te'o 3 - Tiger Woods
LeBron would have four more electoral votes than the 270 necessary to win the election, with Kobe (thanks to the sheer size of California) the runner-up.
Hail to the King!