Monday, September 21, 2009

NFL and Twitter

A nice article on the whole Twitter vs the NFL from the Green Bay Press. Discusses the current situation, potential problems and the future of social media in the NFL.

I found this one interesting because it talks about how pro-athletes are benefitting financially from this tool. I figured social media was a great way for the fans to interact with professional athletes. Little did I realize that a lot of the tweets contain brands and products that sponsor the athlete.

Imagine that. Signing an endorsement deal for millions of dollars, with the promise that you maintain over 50,000 followers and mention the sports drink that’s paying your bills. It could happen.

Chad Ochocinco is a pretty active Twit and likes to keep things quite confrontational with the NFL. He's known as a prima-donna and enjoys any attention he gets. But definitely a favorite just for his over-the-top touchdown celebrations and honest opinions about the NFL and its social media policy.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Lack of time and other minor commitments have prevented me from really getting into this blog. I have a bunch of ideas, with a lot of them very closely related to the MACT program.

So I think a quick reset is in order to re-focus where this blog is going and what my goals are.

My main focus is on how professional sports are impacted by various communication technologies. There's lots of social theories out there that can look at how development of technology has impacted the business of professional sports, but also the fan.

Must be my sociology background kicking in but I'm finding it pretty amazing how a group of people, sports fans, have changed significantly over the last few years, let alone the past 100.

I had the chance to read "Hockey Night in Canada: Sports, Identities, and Cultural Politics" by Richard Gruneau this past summer. Discusses how the sport of hockey has influenced the identity of culture of Canadians and the many contributing factors. So not exactly communications and technology related, but it still gives a sense of how important pro-sports are to a country.

New tools like Twitter, Facebook and UStream are bringing pro-athletes even closer to fans. These fans in turn are beginning to develop their own methods of getting involved with the game and gaining knowledge that isn't provided by large institutions such as broadcast media.

I'm still undecided if this will be my final research project but it's a great way for me to apply what I learn to a topic that I'm very interested in.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Michael Jackson Hoax

If this is true, this makes for an interesting social experiment. Shows how fast misinformation can spread with the development of technology.

Not exactly sports related but the spread of rumors is getting faster in the professional sporting world. Twitter is leading the charge with journalists and "insiders" using the tool to send updates.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Twitter Haters

Seems like professional sports leagues aren't big fans of Twitter and other social media tools.

The US Open has taken a stand against tweeting as they believe confidential information could possibly be relayed back to sport gambling agencies.

"Many of you will have Twitter accounts in order for your fans to follow you and to become more engaged in you and the sport - and this is great," the notices read. "However popular it is, it is important to warn you of some of the dangers posted by Twittering as it relates to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program Rules." - (, By Howard Fendrich, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

I guess if a player sees another player attending to an injury, the information could be sent out to sport bookies and other people who could benefit from that information.

The NFL has also sent out a warning to any players using Twitter.

The plays and strategies that teams come up with can win and lose games. Sharing any of this information could be very detrimental to a teams success.

"They fear opponents might gain a competitive advantage from even the briefest tweet about injuries, personnel decisions, trick plays or food. The Chargers allow players to tweet, but fined cornerback Antonio Cromartie US$2,500 for using Twitter to complain about training camp chow."

I think it's fair to expect more and more of this. Professional athletes can connect to fans without any regulations. The teams who pay their salaries do have a right to step in but how much is too much?

Oil City Speculation

Here in Oil City, player trades, contract negotiations and player performance are the most popular topics for fans. Who might go where, how much money a player might want and potential line-ups for the next game can often be heard at coliseums and bars.

Rumors and speculation have proven to be very important to professional sports. It gives fans something to talk about when a game isn’t going on and stay connected to the sport. It generates interest and keeps things exciting for the fans.

"It is part of selling the game. I think rumors are good for the game because they create interest." - Glen Sather, former Edmonton Oilers general manager (National Post, Fri Jan 14 2000)

Where does the rumor begin?

Professional writers working for media outlets are usually close to the day-to-day operations of sports teams and events. They tend to have some sources within the league and get to witness things happen. Quite often though, these writers need to start the speculation to sell papers and themselves. If all they did was report on what they saw, they’d be out of a job. They have to provide more than that, which often results in farfetched guesses. For example, if a player misses a practice session with his team, it could be speculated that he’s hurt, when really, he could be attending a family event.

Professional teams have also been guilty of starting rumors. Why? It can help motivate a player to play better.

"A player reads a rumor in the paper that he is going to be traded, so all of a sudden his game picks up. [Vaclav Prospal, Ottawa Senator player] was brutal until the stories came out that he was going to be traded, and all of a sudden he is playing a lot better." - Glen Sather, former Edmonton Oilers general manager (National Post, Fri Jan 14 2000)

Professional sports agents, who represent players in contract negotiations like to spit in the rumor mill as well. They may want to create the perception that their client is in high-demand by other professional teams.

Fans take this information, analyze it, discuss it and share it. Along the way, the information is susceptible to some distortion. With new forms of social media, this information not only travels faster, but it now comes from even more sources.

Social Media Revolution

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lebron vs The World

Lebron James, one of the NBA's biggest stars, got himself into an interesting predicament a while back. While playing in a pick-up game with some other NBA players, as well as college players, Lebron got dunked on.

Not by another NBA star. But by a college kid.

Lebron is in a league of his own. He was drafted straight out of high school and had a tonne of hype around him before he even set foot on to a professional league court. Ever since, he's been a franchise player, smashing records and getting his team to the Eastern Conference final.

King James, as he's called, is a superstar.

Right after he got dunked on, his biggest sponsor asked for all tapes of the event be turned over to them. Attempt to make sure the world doesn't see a superstar get posterized by a college kid? Please, it's 2009. That clip was on Youtube within seconds and word spread pretty fast with the help of Facebook, Twitter and the other social networking tools.

Professional athletes have an image to develop and protect. But the image needs fans to exist. Millions of dollars are spent by sponsors to sell products and athletes to fans and consumers. And a lot of energy is spent on protecting that image. This really demonstrates how fans are now controlling that image. As a collective, they can create the image and destroy it.

A lot of this is due to the fact that social networking tools and easy-to-use technology is readily available to anyone with a computer.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Information Overload

The NHL Entry Draft was completed last weekend. Lots of speculation/gossip but no action.

For me, it was the biggest case of information overload I have ever experienced. Several websites provided instant updates, had a live blog and NHL insiders were tweeting away. Add to that any verbal discussions, SMS exchanges and email threads.

Not once in the past have I ever had this many sources going at once for an important day in the NHL. It was very overwhelming.

And here's the best part: NHL free agency begins tomorrow. Any players that do not have a contract for the upcoming season hit the open market and get signed by any team. Let the madness commence!

I think this ties back to Clay Shirky's chapter about everyone becoming a source of information. Initially, we had the big networks covering these events. You would just go with whatever they provided.

Now, you have hundreds of websites providing insider information, speculation/gossip, salary information about every NHL team and real-time stats. It's up to the user to decide what is best. Unfortunately, this can create a lot of information overload.

Thursday, June 25, 2009 on Global News creator Adam Rozenhart and Team 1260 radio host Jason Gregor got interviewed by Global News anchor Lynda Steele on Wednesday.

Monday, June 22, 2009 Update!

As of Monday June 22nd, a grand total of $3,315 was raised to send Jason Gregor to Montreal. On friday, Oiler fans will have a source to provide all the up-to-date news regarding the NHL Entry Draft.

Here's a link to the latest blog entry.

They are definitely on to something.

A group of fans who want in-depth coverage and analysis of an important event just raised enough money to send a correspondent. Mind you, it's a person that is in the business and has lots of professional experience. Regardless, it's a great example of what a group of fans can accomplish with the help of the internet and social networking tools.

What this also shows is how demanding fans can be.

There will be hours upon hours of coverage from the major networks such as TSN and Sportsnet. But they provide more of a blanket-approach, attempting to cover all the Canadian teams and the major stories.

These Oiler fans, however, want in-depth analysis of their team and ALL the stories that relate.

Friday, June 19, 2009 is a website that provides news and columnists covering the Edmonton Oilers. What started out as a simple blog site with some readable posts from a “Wanye Gretz” has now become an example of social media success.

Initially a couple bloggers would post their opinions and thoughts about the Oilers, opposing teams, players and management. Soon after, a couple more bloggers joined providing more detailed stats and some different perspectives.

Included are Jason Gregor, host of Just a Game on the Team 1260 and Robin Brownlee, a former sports columnist for the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun. Both guys are well connected and have tonnes of experience covering local sports.

Once they joined, the site became a primary source for breaking news and analysis.

A big step was taken on Wednesday.

Brownlee wrote an interesting article discussing how the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal will only have a few traditional media outlets present.

Tough economic times have newspapers, like a lot of businesses, slashing
budgets. Compounding matters, newspapers have been dying a slow death for years
now — the reasons are many.

The people behind the website decided to start a paypal account to pay for Brownlee’s trip to Montreal to cover the draft. According to the latest article on, donations are still coming in. As of Friday afternoon, Brownlee is unable to make the trip so his colleague Jason Gregor is the next possible candidate to cover the draft.

Talk about power to the people. Instead of relying on the large sports media outlets like TSN and Sportsnet, a group of Oiler fans have come together and sponsored an individual, with the necessary credentials, to cover the event for them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You're a bum!

Here's a clip of Alex Rios of the Toronto Blue Jays leaving a charity gala in Toronto. From this clip, it looks like Alex turned away a young fan who wanted to get an autograph and was then heckled by another fan for the current batting slump he's in.

A couple days after this clip made the rounds on the interweb, Rios made an official apology for the outburst.

You think he would have apologized if Youtube wasn't around?

Social networking tools and advances in technology are changing the behaviours of human beings. Pro-athletes are thinking twice before losing their cool in public or even turning down kids who want autographs.

These guys and girls are considered role models for kids but are under a lot of pressure to not only perform on the field, but also carry themselves professionally off of it.

There's plenty of examples of how technology changes individuals and society. But professional sports specifically has a lot of intriguing stuff.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What the heck is a "fan"?

According to Wikipedia:

“A fan, aficionado, or supporter is someone who has an intense, occasionally overwhelming liking and enthusiasm for a sporting club, person (usually a celebrity) group of persons, company, product, activity, work of art, idea, or trend.”

The belief is that the term derived from either the word ‘fanatic’ or ‘fancy’. When you think about it, they kind of mean the same thing, except fanatic carries some more extreme connotations than the other.

What sounds more accurate?

“Jimmy really fancies the Denver Broncos.”


“Jimmy is a real fanatic about the Denver Broncos."

But like I said, the two words have similar meanings.

When I think of fanatic, I think of mad men. This includes those that would die for the object of their affection and admiration or those that would do anything to see their icons succeed. An obvious one would be religious extremists.

But sports are a religion to some, a hobby to others.

The term itself, in my opinion, is a little too broad. I can see how someone who shows up to every game, screams at the players to hustle and then goes home to pray that the team wins the next game would be called a “fan”.

But what about the guy who watches the sport for entertainment and doesn’t really care if anyone wins or loses. I don’t think this person can be categorized with the other mad men.

The fan has become its own entity and is a pretty interesting thing to delve into a bit further. The relationship that exists between the fan, the object of their affection and the environment that encompasses all of these items is very intriguing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Oil City Market.
Looking to discuss sports, fans and anything else that might fall under these two topics.

Let's see where this goes.