How Panthers Found Fame in Norway

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American football is perhaps the second most popular sport after basketball in the United States. A lot of people are involved in this game and sometimes it is referred simply as football.

If we take a look at the viewers of this type of sport in other countries, the number is extremely low. However, if we take a look at Scandinavia and especially Norway we will be able to see that compared to other countries the viewers of American football grow gradually. This is due to one club which is the Carolina Panthers that found fame in the country.

General information about the club

The Carolina Panthers are a professional American football club based in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a member of the Southern Division of the National Football Conference. Founded in 1993.

The Panthers are a relatively young team that have not yet won the major league trophy. The club’s best result was reaching the Super Bowl XXXVIII finals in 2003, in which the Panthers lost 29-32 to the New England Patriots. They re-entered the Super Bowl’s final 50 in 2016, again losing to the Denver Broncos 10-24. The club also twice became a finalist of the National Football Conference championship (1996, 2005).

Why are they popular in Norway?

Everything started with the opening of a fan-base in Norway, that paved the way for the Panther’s popularity. Even though there were no Scandinavian players in the Panthers’ roster their playing style was very attractive for the Norwegians and mainly this was the reason why they started rooting for the Carolina Panthers.

The Panthers’ influence was so huge that it even reached the heights of gambling industry in Norway. This field is developing Norway even though there are some restrictions. Furthermore, the online gambling industry is gradually moving towards offering various odds bonuses on the club, having seen huge support for them. Such bonuses are like promotions for the favourite team. Considering that the Panthers are very popular, such a thing was very logical. Even now, almost 90% of American football viewers in Norway are rooting for the Panthers.

There is no official league of football in Norway and the country is mostly known for playing other sports, but if the popularity of Panthers continues to grow and the number of people watching their games increases, then it is pretty much possible that we will have an amateur league where Norwegian football players will emerge. It is too early to talk about this but everything is possible.

How the team was formed?

On December 15, 1987, entrepreneur Jerry Richardson announced his bid to expand the NFL franchise at the expense of Carolina. A native of North Carolina, Richardson was a former Baltimore Colts receiver who used his league bonus for winning the 1959 championship to co-found the restaurant chain Hardee’s and later became president and CEO of TW Services. In his plan, he drew inspiration from the experience of George Shinn, who achieved a successful NBA bid for the Charlotte Hornets from the eponymous city in North Carolina. 

To highlight the existence of a request for professional American football in Carolina, Richardson Sports from 1989 to 1991 held a series of preseason games between current NFL teams across the region. The first two games were played in North Carolina: at Carter-Finley Stadium (Raleigh) and Kenan Memorial Stadium (Chapel Hill), while the third and final matches took place at the Williams-Brice Stadium in South Carolina. In 1991, the initiative group formally applied for franchise expansion, and on October 26, 1993, all 28 NFL team owners recognized the Carolina Panthers as a new member of the league.

Culture

Radio coverage of the team’s games is conducted through the WBT flagship station (1110 AM) and through the Carolina Panthers Radio Network, which has branches in Virginia, Georgia and both Carolinas. The radio network covers pre-game events, broadcasts games and sums up their results. There is also a weekly Panther Talk program straight from Bank of America Stadium, where fans of the team can meet and question their players live.

All preseason and special team matches are broadcast by the Carolina Panthers Television Network with the flagship WSOC-TV station in Charlotte and fourteen partner stations in Virginia, Georgia, both Carolinas and Tennessee. Since the 2019 season, WSOC has partnered with the Panthers, replacing the WCCB, which became a partner after the end of the Fox-WJ-21 collaboration in 2013. 

There are also Spanish-language games in the United States through eight partner radio stations with the flagship WGSP-FM radio station from Pajland, and is also rebroadcasting in Mexico on local radio stations. 

Rivalry

The main contenders for the Carolina Panthers are their NFC Southern Division counterparts represented by the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the most principled are the Falcons and the Buccaneers.

The Atlanta Falcons are a rival to the Panthers and for a geographical reason, Atlanta is located just 230 miles south of I-85. The teams play each other twice a year, with a large contingent of guest fans (the Karolinska team at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta at Bank of America Stadium).

The Panthers’ clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is considered the most principled in the NFC South Division. It has been around since the division’s inception in 2002 but began to heat up before the 2003 season due to verbal attacks by players on both teams. The derby resulted in a series of injuries for players of both teams.

During their time in the NFC West Division, the Panthers began developing a showdown with the San Francisco 49ers that ended after the Eastern team moved to the Southern Division. 

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