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.