Team Colors By Sport

Team Colors By Sport

With baseball season going on, as little as I pay attention, I’ve noticed most times I see a game I see a lot of red and blue. Baseball is a very old and traditional game, so the standard patriotic color schemes make sense. I wanted to take a look and see just how much of the major leagues are red and blue and how that compares to other sports. I was also interested to see what colors are more predominant in what sports.

So here’s what I did:

I gathered the two “official” predominant colors for each MLB, NBA, and NFL team (sorry, hockey; these charts take too long to plan). Then I counted how many times each color appeared, calling each color one of the following:

I'm not sure which 2 colors I would have used from this old logo…

  • Red
  • Navy blue
  • Royal blue
  • Light blue
  • Teal
  • Green
  • Black
  • White
  • Silver
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Gold
  • Purple
  • Maroon (NFL only)
  • Brown (NFL only)

Then I plotted each team between its two colors for each sport, providing a way to see graphically which colors were most frequent (size of the circle) and which color combinations were most common (number of teams between the two colors).The charts are below for each sport (click each to view full size), and here are some interesting takeaways:

  • 33% of MLB teams have a red and blue (navy or royal) color scheme, compared to 20% in the NBA and 12.5% in the NFL
  • Red is the most common color in MLB (14 teams) and the NBA (13), while navy blue is the most common in the NFL (10).
  • The NFL has more color variety. 78% of NFL teams have a combination that no other team in the league has (compared to 43% of NBA teams and 33% of MLB teams). In fact, in the NFL, only one color combination is used more than twice – red and navy blue is used three times.
  • The most unique colors across all three sports are brown and maroon, each appearing only once (both in the NFL).
  • 17 teams have a 2-color scheme that no other team across all three sports has.

Anything else that jumps out at you?

Also, check out this timeline of team color changes.

71 Responses to “Team Colors By Sport”

  1. Chris
    May 18th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Great work! It would also be interesting to see how teams migrated from one color palette to another, and when. There’s probably some correlation between trends in art and team colors.I’m all for the return of 1960′s NBA logos.

  2. The Sports Design Blog
    May 18th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Yeah, like how every 90s expansion team involved teal and/or purple, and now almost all have gone away from those. I’ll add it to the queue!

    EDIT: You can now see team color changes here!

  3. Sloan
    May 18th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Really nice work on the graphics – ROY G. BIV would be proud. Cool site; looking forward to seeing the next post!

  4. Hector
    May 19th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I almost missed the nice touch on the shape of each infographic! Sweetness.

  5. The Jeff
    May 24th, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Any particular reason why you decided to stick the Detroit Lions between black & light blue instead of silver & light blue? I think the Tampa Bay Bucs “pewter” color is unique enough to get it’s own slot as well, rather than getting lumped in with silver.

    …other than that, really cool work…

  6. The Sports Design Blog
    May 24th, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Oh, good catch, Jeff. That was just a mistake. I had the line there for the Lions to go on and didn’t put them there. Fixed now.

    I thought about giving Tampa Bay their own pewter, but decided to lump it in with silver, even though it’s darker. Definitely could have gone either way, though.

    Thanks for checking it out!

  7. Michael M
    May 24th, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Great work, but as a Reds fan, I noticed you have them on the Red-White line instead of the Red-Black line. As much as I detest the use of black, we do have it as a trim color.

  8. The Sports Design Blog
    May 24th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Thanks, Michael. A lot of teams had a third color, but in most cases it was a “trim” color like you mentioned and I was able to find what are considered the two primary. For the Reds it appears red and white are the two predominant colors.

  9. Krystal
    May 24th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    The A’s colors are very unique in baseball.

  10. marc
    May 24th, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    very cool and very thorough. it’s weird, tho… i was just thinking the other day when the indians were playing the reds “i wonder how many baseball teams wear red?” thanks for answering my question and then some!

  11. guest
    May 25th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    i think it is unique that the graphs are in shapes of their sport.
    baseball – diamond
    basketball – three point line/key
    football – a football shape

  12. matt
    May 25th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Great article. I’ve been annoyed for quite some time at the similar colors in baseball. There is only ONE team that doesn’t wear a red, blue, or black hat. There is way too much red and blue. Couldn’t teams like the Rays and Marlins at least wear their light blue / teal as a hat color?

  13. ron
    May 27th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Great Stuff. Had a question about the Eagles though, since they seem to be on the black and blue (aquamarine) line, when their colors are white, black and green. The midnight green is not as distinct as the former Kelly Green, but it is still green.

  14. The Sports Design Blog
    May 27th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Hey Ron,

    There’s definitely some subjective nature to this since I had to put each color into a category, but I’ve got them between black and teal, which I think their latest green is closer to than a true “green.” It’s not that similar to the Dolphins’ teal, but very similar to the Jaguars’.

  15. Guest
    May 27th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Interesting that you did not include the 30 NHL teams, leaves your “analysis” incomplete.

  16. The Sports Design Blog
    May 27th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Yeah… frankly, each one of these took a lot longer than I anticipated and I don’t follow hockey at all. So hockey won’t get as much love on my site, but I will try to include it when I can. I’ll have to come back and do this for the NHL since people seem to have enjoyed it.

  17. ???
    May 27th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Oh my god. Awesome visuals!!!

  18. Kevin Z.
    May 31st, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Great work on the charts! One possible gripe though: Seems to me that the Bills and Giants should switch spots in the NFL one, based on recent years.

  19. June 8th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    [...] a look at some of these wonderful graphs created by The Sports Design Blog just reinforced my desire to get this out in the [...]

  20. Jenn
    January 17th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Just wondering… why did you keep maroon as a separate choice for the NFL chart (Redskins) but consider it to be “red” on the NBA chart (Cavs). IMO, the Cavs’ “Wine & Gold” is more like a maroon than plain ol’ red. Is it just because then the Cavs wouldn’t have been on the chart at all?

  21. Chris Buek
    January 22nd, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept of doing these charts, but taking into account third (and even fourth) colors. I’d think the whole themed design (diamond, half-court, football) idea would have to be abandoned, as the charts would be far more complex and difficult to arrange.

  22. Chris Buek
    January 22nd, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Also, the Utah Jazz should definitely be between purple and yellow, and not navy and yellow.

  23. Chris Buek
    January 22nd, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Never mind…apparently the Jazz now wear navy blue instead of purple. That sucks.

  24. TDL
    February 9th, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    THIS IS AWESOME! Great job!

  25. Fireball
    May 6th, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    These graphics are cool. I do however wish that no teams in the same would have the same color scheme. Team colors add to the team pride in some way.

    So if any NBA team is thinking of changing their colors to something unique, heres a few unused

    Black and yellow
    black and Gold
    Orange and black (hint– BOBCATS)
    Brown and ? (hint — MEMPHIS)

    ps: Toronto should make the camouflage scheme their regular uniform

  26. Justin Hertl
    July 1st, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Fantastic job with the color chart – I have none of your talent, but I enjoy unique, clean looking uniforms.

  27. kittak
  28. Drew
    September 12th, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    So very nicely executed. I would love to see this done globally for world football!

    We’re you going purely from the team’s logos or uniforms? I ask because teams like the Cubs, who have red in their logo, never wear red unis. Their branding is blue > white > gray as far the garments go. Either way, love the study!

  29. Jan
    November 4th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Your good! Very detailed and precise! Yellow and Green rules here in Oregon.

  30. Shaymer
    February 1st, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Just saw this. Wanted to say thanks. I’m a logo and uniform nut. Love this.

  31. February 8th, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    [...] graphic below has been around as it was first created at The Sports Design Blog back in 2011. But it is the first time I have seen it and it is an interesting look at how the Rays’ [...]

  32. Amanda @ The Scacchi House
    March 1st, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    This is great. Have you done anything like this with college teams as well?

  33. The Sports Design Blog
    March 3rd, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks, Amanda! The closest thing for college I’ve done is team color by geography:

  34. Maria
    March 5th, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Very cool. But the Detroit Tigers would be much better as Navy & Orange. That’s how we Tiger fans associate their colors.

  35. March 20th, 2013 at 7:08 am

    [...] what the most popular color is in baseball uniforms?  Here’s an interesting graphic from The Sports Design Blog that shows the predominant colors in the MLB (the NFL and [...]

  36. May 5th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    [...] Plus, it may be genuinely difficult to figure out which team is yours, because they all wear the same four colors. [...]

  37. baikitball
    June 29th, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Actually, I would consider the Cavaliers’ “red” to be more of a maroon color.

  38. Larry
    July 5th, 2013 at 1:15 am

    Very impressive chart; however, I do believe black is one of the two predominant colors for the Cincinnati Reds even though it is used sparingly. I would say the same thing for the Los Angeles Dodgers regarding red. I really love your desgin as colors is how I identify these teams.

  39. Larry
    July 5th, 2013 at 1:36 am

    One last thing. The most common color in MLB is a tie 13 teams wear red and13 teams wear Navy. However, with the Astros changing to Navy and Orange this year it appears like Navy is the most dominant color now.

  40. Samira
    July 23rd, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    This has been immensely helpful in making sports themed scarves and other of my crochet items. Thanks so much!

  41. Lucky Bell
    October 18th, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Great Job, but there are some small problems. The NFL New York Giants are actually Royal blue not Navy blue. Also, the Tampa Bay Bucs are actually pewter(golden brown) and not silver. Still impressive chart though.

  42. Tai louie
    February 20th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Hey everyone. Check out colorful thunder app on iTunes. It’s free and you can program your iPhone or iPad to display your team colors. When there is a game and you are in a group you can all sync the same team colors and rymthn so you can cheer your team together. Let me know what you think! Cheers!

  43. March 31st, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    [...] team colors are overwhelming red and blue, so you’ll have to forgive some of the creative licenses the designers took here to make this [...]

  44. March 31st, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    [...] group colors are overwhelming red and blue, so you’ll have to pardon some of a artistic licenses a designers took here to make this map [...]

  45. Sher
    April 8th, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Love the color history. Two questions: can you tie it to geography and over time in geograpny?

    Also, slightly different, what about the same type of analysis on team names. Are there categories–animals, color, things, groups, etc. tht parallel color so you could pick a category for a team and then look at name changes in time and over geography?

    I would be fascinating to see if certain names or locations link to certain color combinations or tie the color changes to a period of time or with a name change.

  46. JB
    June 4th, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Excellent work on the analysis and graphics. I love thinking about branding, color and identity for sports times. Do you think you will ever do the NHL and MLS, now that they are becoming more or as popular as MLB and NBA?

  47. Garrett
    July 3rd, 2014 at 10:07 am

    How did u make these?
    What program did u use or did u use one?

  48. Becky
    December 26th, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks for doi.g all that! That’s amazing! I was looking for just this. :)

  49. Darrance
    January 2nd, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Me and this article, sitting in a tree, L-E-I-R-N-A-N-G!

  50. Teiya
    January 2nd, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    It’s much easier to unadtsrend when you put it that way!

  51. Daniel H
    February 11th, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    In the football graph, I see that the brown is for Cleveland, but that is not maroon for Washington Redskins, that is burgundy.

  52. Jamey Mcdougal
    February 24th, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    What’s up mates, how is everything, and what you want to say concerning this article, in my view its actually amazing in favor of me.

  53. Jacky
    April 3rd, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    nice comment by a dis-placed Giants fan. You know what I have to say about that? Beat it. Move. Go to New York and bultstam with all of your Giants brethren up there. OH, HI RAFAEL how you doing???

  54. robin reis
    June 19th, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    What pro teams wear Aqua & White besides the Miami Dolphins?

  55. James
    October 5th, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    The Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and Tampa Bay Bucaneers are all closer to maroon not red.

  56. October 16th, 2015 at 1:00 am

    [...] logo epitimizes that 90’s feel. The teal color seemed to be a popular color of many franchises in the 90’s. San Jose more or less started [...]

  57. November 19th, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    [...] you think the Jets and Bills consulted this piece before making their unfortunate decision to have uniforms that basically rendered them [...]

  58. Elan
    January 3rd, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Great work and intriguing graphics. I was most interested in the NBA findings, where many of the colors have changed since this was published. I’m curious how the current color schemes compare to the ones posted. I’m also curious if there were specific common criteria by which you selected the two colors for each team, since many have more than two.

  59. Paula
    January 20th, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Very interesting post!

    I’ve got here looking for information that helps me to do my thesis. The issue is the identity of a soccer fandom from an Argentinian team called Platense.

    The principals Platense’s colors are brown and white and how you describe on your article, brown is not precisely the most appearing color. I’m interesting in the relation could have this with fans identification.

    Do you know about other research that analyse colors in more countries and sports?

    Thank you!

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  65. Elan
    October 18th, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    This is a very interesting post. I would love to see the color diagram updated for the new NBA logos.

  66. matt
    October 19th, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    what nfl team has maroon?

  67. Ray
    October 25th, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I agree with the above, the difference between the Cavs “Wine” and Redskins “Maroon” is much slimmer than the difference between Wine and standard red. If one gets a unique color spot, so should the other.

  68. Mike
    October 26th, 2016 at 3:45 am

    Fantastic work, thoroughly in awe of what you have done. Something that would be cool to calculate would be the variety of colors as a function of time.

    My assumption is that the variety has increased as (my assumed cause of) better and less costly print technology has made unique logo colors a less costly/difficult endeavor; but it would be of course awesome to find out whether that’s true or not.

    Any thoughts on what you observed while creating all of these charts? If I have enough time and energy I may take a gander at the awesome color change over time chart you created and create some applicable stats out of that – but of course if you already have the data by all means feel free to speak up!

    Either way, amazing work, and thanks so much for doing it!

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