The Toronto Argonauts have caught Raptors fever.
The Argos took the subway as a team to Varsity Stadium for their CFL exhibition game Thursday morning versus the Montreal Alouettes, and players all donned “We The North” T-shirts.
That slogan belongs to the Toronto Raptors, who were set to host the Golden State Warriors in the opening game of the NBA Finals later Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena.
The two sports entities are both owned by Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment.
Argos players also had “We The North” stickers on their helmets for the game. And many were scheduled to be at the public viewing area known as Jurassic Park on Thursday night.
Between eight and 10 players are expected to go onstage at Jurassic Park during the course of the evening.
While Canadians prepare to cheer on the Toronto Raptors in the upcoming NBA Finals, it appears the majority of Americans are also rooting for Canada’s team.
According to a map created by BetOnline, all but three U.S. states (California, Nevada and Hawaii) are cheering for the Raptors ahead of their Game 1 matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
The data is based on how often social media users in each state added #WeTheNorth and #DubNation, the official hashtags of each team, to their tweets.
“This is pretty amazing,” Christopher Doyle, head of sports partnerships at Twitter Canada, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. “What the third-party data is showing is that there’s a tremendous increase in the ‘#WeTheNorth’ hashtag, not just in Canada.”
According to Twitter Canada, American cities including Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Chicago have each seen at least five times more tweets using “#WeTheNorth” than usual.
Even people in Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin appear to be cheering for the Raptors this week, despite Toronto eliminating a team from each state through the playoffs.
“I think there is a theory here where once your sports team loses, you kind of hop on the bandwagon of the team that knocked you out,” Doyle said.
He believes there are two primary factors behind the increase in U.S. social media engagement with the Raptors.
“The first one is that the Raptors are a surprise story down south…they’re the underdog story,” he said. “And that I think that the Raptors have a transcending superstar in Kawhi Leonard and I think that Kawhi can steal a game for you, he can steal a series for you, so I think there’s a lot of interest in Kawhi versus the Warriors.”
Game 1 of the NBA Finals begins Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.