Friday, August 28, 2009

Fandom Redefined.

Jumping right back into the fray, as it were.

The other day, a link from Greg Wyshynski’s Twitter feed caught my eye:

New Puck Daddy: The revenge of the best, worst NHL fan base rankings
10:07 AM Aug 26th
from twitterfeed

So I click, and I find some obviously suspect research. If you’re here, you’ve read enough about it already, and I’ll spare you the warming-over (btw, if you haven’t seen the response by Jibblescribbits, you owe it to yourself to take a gander. How that much awesome came forth that quickly, I’ll never know. That’s probably why he’s Jibblescribbits, and I’m the Blueland Outsider. So… there you go.). I will also avoid linking directly to the story. This dude has gotten flamed more than a Whopper since the PD article, and I don’t really want to see that happen to anybody.

Anyway, I wondered what would make a fanbase good? Obviously, home attendance has a lot to do with it. Even here in Atlanta, those games against the Wings and Pens and Rags and other big-draw teams that pull the transplants out of the woodwork like so many pillbugs and grubs from a rotting stump don’t do much to bump our otherwise dismal attendance at Phillips. So there you have criteria one: average attendance against arena max capacity.

Criteria two is a little trickier. Yes, internet fandom is an ingrained fact of life at this point in time, and must be taken VERY seriously. If someone feels strongly enough about something to start a blog and regularly update it (even if the resulting posts may never be The Brothers Karamazov), they must be a passionate fan, right? But what to do about message boards? In my conversing with the guy that spawned this whole controversy, he made the point that message boards wouldn’t be the most accurate way to determine fan activity due to the creation of multiple accounts, other fans cross-posting, etc. Okay, so message boards are out, but to rely on a Google search in the middle of August to determine NHL fan activity? Little bit of a copout, my friend.

So here’s what I did. I hit SBnation – a very well-known, reputable & reliable source of hockey fandom – and I copied the blogroll from each teams’ page. The reasoning here is, if you have a respectable blog, a bigger blog would naturally link to it. I then removed the following:

  • Any blog from a news outlet, mainstream (sorry, Rawhide) or marginal (i.e. Creative Loafing, or other regional equivalent).

  • Any “official” team blogs (sorry, Ben).

  • Any blogs that haven’t been updated this summer (last post = June 1 or later).

  • Any blogs that covered more than one sport.

  • Any links that were solely message boards (see above justification).

  • Any blogs that were just drawings of Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin (I’d like to think we have some semblance of taste here at the Outsider.).

I took the total number of blogs for each team, multiplied that by four (just to make the numbers look pretty), averaged it with the attendance number I mentioned above, and voila, little better fan rankings. I did manage to avoid commentary on every team, realizing that it may make sound... well... like a pompous homer. If you want that, all you have to do is look at just about any other post I've made.

I make no claims to this being a perfect system, only a refinement to what’s been thrown out there, so without further ado…

These are the total scores. Some surprises:

- Players may not want to go to Edmonton, but the fans show up, have a good time, and then post marginally coherent stories on the internet the next day. Good times.

- Toronto fans show up, but most likely live less than fifty miles from the arena, so they can share their Leaf-related exploits face-to-face. Thusly, not as many Leaf blogs readily available.

- Montreal fans are too busy trying to catch their players in compromising positions and lighting things on fire to bother with blogging.

- Ottawa's average attendance dropped .7% from last year - upon hearing this, Danny Heatley expressed a desire to play in a "real hockey town." Just not Edmonton.

- Columbus fans can't show up OR blog... and I even counted Portzline, cause he doesn't really blog about hockey - just some sport he makes up in his head that happens to resemble hockey.

- Atlanta? Well, when it comes to online presence, we're pretty respectable. Up in the top third, according to my research. Attendance? Well, we're working on that.

- Florida swears their blogs will show up soon - right after their kids come down and program that fricken' VCR.

- The Islanders fans are probably pretty jazzed to be near the top of something that doesn't say "Draft Order".

Just for giggles, here are the separate listings for web presence and attendance percentage:

So that's the story, folks. More research than you'll find elsewhere, less than you need for an actual scientific study. Join us next week as we try to decipher the ages-old mystery of the Wings fan: Is obnoxiousness directly proportionate to their distance from Detroit?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

“He is eager for the season to commence,” said Jay Grossman, Kovalachuk’s agent. “He said he has had the best offseason workout program that he’s ever had. He’s the captain and he wants to lead.”


Just play already.