Research Ideas

Source: Wikimedia Commons

If I had extended my tenure as a student, my research would have probably focused solely on hockey fans who conduct data analytics. Blogs, which was the focus of my MACT final project, would play a prominent role, along with other social media tools and analytics software.

That got me thinking of what other research projects could possibly spin out from the research I did complete. Here’s my random, evolving list:

–       History of hockey analytics

–       Comparison of hockey fans across teams, regions and their online activity

–       Does following a horrible team make you more likely to get into hockey analytics? Looking at you, Oilers fans.

–       Interview people who do hockey analytics to find out why they do it, what methods they use, what barriers they face and/or what they think the future holds for hockey analytics.

Hockey Bloggers with Press Passes

Without a doubt, a tension exists between hockey bloggers and those who work as members of the mainstream media (MSM). The lines that separate the two groups have blurred as both fans and those with official press passes to cover the game interact and participate online. Communication tools and software have become more readily available and easier to use, allowing anyone with a basic understanding of the technology, and an interest in the game, to participate online.

In the past few years, bloggers have made the jump to more mainstream platforms and  we’ve also seen those with press passes, such as fomer Edmonton Journal writer Robin Brownlee, get into blogging. In his latest post for OilersNation, “Deep Thoughts XXIV: Ties that bind”, he had this to say about the current state of hockey coverage: Continue reading

Information Diet for Hockey Fans

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Recently read an insightful book called “The Information Diet: A Case for Concious Consumption” by Clay Johnson (2012). Using the current food/obesity epidemic as an analogy, Johnson highlights the problems with our current pattern of information consumption. Some alarming things really come out of this book including how the over-consumption of information:

  • impacts our autonomic nervous system (i.e., how email or Facebook alerts change our breathing patterns)
  • impacts our understanding of topics, which can lead to  biases and poor decision making
  • changes how we behave as a collective group including our ability to collaborate with individuals holding conflicting ideas

I think most can attest to the disruption information can cause in our personal and professional lives. Smartphone’s have converged our information streams, making email, social media, RSS feeds, etc conveniently centralized and easily accessible. As great as it is to have information readily available, conscious decision making is required by individuals to control and efficiently use the content we consume. This doesn’t mean just setting up filters, but also to question the source and added processing of the information.

While Johnson cites his experience working within American politics, I tried to relate his ideas to the experience of hockey fans. Sports fans are different than fans of other genres such as movies, films and literature as they have been found to engage with the game before, during and after live events (Gantz et al, 2006). With so many sources of information and so much to do with it, including fantasy league participation, gambling and blogging, fans are vulnerable to information over-consumption. The information can be disruptive to fans day-to-day lives and impact their mental state and decision making. Then again, “fans” is, in fact, short for “fanatics”.

With the NHL Draft passing by and the start of free agency on July 1, I would love to hear the experience and tactics of fans dealing with the abundant information.

References:

Gantz, W., Wang, Z., Paul, B. & Potter, R.F. (2006). Sports versus all comers: comparing TV sports fans with fans of other programming genres. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 50(1), p. 95-118.

Johnson, C. (2012). The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption. USA: O’Reilly Media

Related links:

Infovegan (SuperFan 2.0)

NHL Trade Deadline: Speculation, Rumors and Information Overload (SuperFan 2.0)

Importance of Hockey Analytics (Hockey in Society)

Information Malnutrition (National Post)

Is it time for you to go on an “Information Diet”? (NPR)

Collaboration and Hockey Analytics

Source: WIkimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Data analytics is a collaborative exercise with the network (both operational and social) being a critical component of any analysis. The right environment has to be in place for people to contribute, develop and share data. To transform the data into information,  context is drawn from the network as individuals apply their backgrounds, experiences and ideas to push the development of a concept. Once the data transforms into information (and later knowledge), the network will distribute the information to those who can use it and develop it further.The importance of collaboration was highlighted at the Analytics, Big Data and the Cloud conference, which presented various topics related to data analytics such as health, productivity and community. One session of personal, and academic interest, was related to professional sports. A description of the session: Continue reading

Hockey Mashups

A few examples of mashups involving the game of hockey. Professional sports aren’t just events fans attend for entertainment. Instead, they become engrained in the culture surrounding fans.

Hockey and Religion

A church in Montreal took out an ad in a local newspaper encouraging fans to pray for a playoff spot for the Montreal Canadiens (via The Star).

Continue reading

Between World of Warcraft and Fantasy League

Through different tools and applications, the space between fans and professional athletes has diminished significantly. The conduit between the two parties has been removed as social media replaces traditional media outlets as information distribution platforms. A new relationship exists between fans and professional athletes as the rules of engagement are still being worked out.

Recently, a blogger compiled some statistics to examine the amount of chances a team creates when a certain defencemen are on the ice. Using both traditional hockey stats and advanced statistics, Dellow pointed out how Oilers defenceman Ryan Whitney struggled in comparison to his teammates. Dellow then posted his findings on Twiiter, much to the chagrin of Whitney.

Not surprised the blog post upset Whitney. Reputation is critical for professional athletes and their market value. But the work of hockey bloggers is becoming more and more engrained in the mainstream information surrounding the game of hockey. Fans are analyzing the game and using various communication tools to create, develop and share information that reaches professional athletes and managers.

Whitney’s tweet was trying to reduce the significance of the blogger by portraying the individual as someone who’s distant from the game. I do agree that bloggers are similar to World of Warcraft and fantasy league fans as they all engage within a participatory culture. All three categories include fans who do more than just consume, but also produce new, creative content.

But it would be in Whitney’s best interest to see fans more than just passive consumers of the game. Rather than mock the blogger, Whitney would be better off either ignoring the critique completely or raise counter-arguments. The last thing he should do is mock fans who participate as contributors to the information surrounding the game.

Hockey Gossip and Blogs

Saw a documentary called Teenage Paparazzo, which follows the adventures of a 14 year old paparazzo and explores the relationship between celebrities, paparazzis and fans. Adrian Grenier interviews different paparazzos, celebrities and academics, including Dr. Henry Jenkins of MIT, and highlights the celebrity-obsessed culture across different mediums.

In a conversation with Adrian Grenier, Dr. Jenkins had this to say regarding celebrity gossip:

Going from a society of small towns where people gossiped about the town drunk to an era of the internet, who do we choose to talk about? We can’t talk about our aunt and our uncle or the guy down the street because we don’t share that in common.

But we share you in common.

So I would say one of your jobs as a celebrity is to be the subject of gossip. When we gossip about someone, the person we’re gossiping about is actually less important than the exchange that takes place between us. We’re using that other person, the celebrity, the town whore, whatever, as a vehicle for us to sort of share values with each other to sort through central issues that are…

Ironically enough, Dr. Jenkins was interrupted by a fan asking to take a picture with Grenier.

There’s definitely a lot of similarities between those who follow celebrities and those who follow hockey. Aside from both being groups of fans who express their fandom using different outlets, they both engage in gossip.

I remarked last year at the amount of speculation that is prevalent throughout the game of hockey and what causes its generation. Dr. Jenkins’ remarks add another element to the rumor/gossip activity, which is the fan desire to exchange values and ideas with one another. The game itself is the common object to discuss and it’s through the interaction with other fans that allows them to express their own values and ideas.

This opportunity to share is what makes blogging the ideal platform for hockey fans. It’s easy to set up a blog, publish content and discuss with other fans. Blogs also offer a way to keep a running log of fan values and ideas, and have made it possible to link the content across a massive network. Values and ideas are able to develop and evolve over time, which is then used to fuel more gossip and speculation.

Grenier, A. et al. (Producers), & Grenier, A. (Director). (2010). Teenage Paparazzo [Motion picture]. United States: Reckless Productions.