Deconstructing the Jersey Toss

"The medium is the message." (1964)

“The medium is the message.” (1964)

Originally posted at Hockey in Society.

The jersey of any sports team, professional or not, holds a history, a story, and many different meanings. The message that resonates with any sports jersey is different depending on who is involved in the communication process. To some, the jersey simply designates who plays on what team. For others, a jersey holds significant, personal meaning which can be immersed in a narrative to build and share.

During two embarrassing losses on home ice this past season, two Edmonton Oilers jerseys were tossed by fans on to the ice. Both were acts of frustration and disapproval towards the club and their miserable performance. Many understood why the fans threw the jersey, while others, including Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens, questioned why the jersey was used as the medium to send a message.

“I’m from (Edmonton). You’re not just disrespecting guys in the room you’re disrespecting guys who wore the jersey before us … Messier, Gretzky, they all take pride in wearing that jersey. You’re a fan, you get to say and do whatever you want, call me whatever name you want, but when it comes to that logo, that’s a sacred thing for us. It’s disheartening for me to see our fans treat it that way.” (Canoe.ca)

The crumpled jersey on the ice for all to see was significant because it was an extreme response to a poor performance. It brought to light the narratives, history and meaning we each have as fans of the team. And, aside from the disrespect to the past players as Scrivens pointed out, the toss of the jersey also challenged and disrupted the traditional communication channels sports fans have established with their team. Continue reading

Transmedia Storytelling in a Convergence Culture

What happens when your favorite hockey team is headed for another losing season? When you get sick of following your hockey team’s on-iceperformance, the best thing to do is follow their off-ice activities. When the narrative of the game is getting old, repetitive and boring, it’s time to follow another story.

It’s time to follow the Twitter account of S Horcov.

S Horcov (@SHorcov) is the captain of the Edmonton Oilers. He has experience fighting Chechens, loves bragging about his intimate relationship with his wife Olga, and has some explicit descriptions of his teammates. A true Komrade who enjoys his life as a hockey player.

But alas, S Horcov is not real. He’s a Russian version of Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff but has become more than just a spoof account. Instead, Komrade Horcov has merged himself with the transmedia storytelling the Edmonton Oilers hockey club has used to provide content to their fans. Through the game itself, newspaper articles, their official website and social media, the Oilers create and spread narratives surrounding the team. But now, we have S Horcov who creates a fictional persona for current players who then go through all sorts of experiences and adventures.

On a recent road trip in Ottawa, for example, the Oilers kidnapped the PM.

Update: Backhand Shelf interviews @SHorcov here.

Aside from the narratives created using the Twitter account, it’s the convergence culture that draws attention. Our culture is dispersed across different platforms in the form of content, but merges together to create a unique experience for fans. But here we see the production of that content put in the hands of an outsider who quickly remixes what’s available to them. S Horcov creates characters based on the actual hockey players and uses current events (i.e., trade rumours) and the hockey schedule to extend the narrative.

Jenkins, H. (2007, March 22). Transmedia Storytelling 101. Retrieved from http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html

Transmedia Storytelling – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Here’s an example of transmedia storytelling I posted on our class blog. You can find more details about transmedia storytelling from Dr. Henry Jenkins’ blog post.


TMNT used various platforms to continue on and develop its storylines. Aside from the Saturday morning cartoons, there were comic books, feature films and board games. They also utilized video games to engage fans in a medium that not only continued the storyline, but also allowed fans to take control.

The television shows worked well for the storyline since it combined visual and audio effects to draw viewers. It gave fans a sense of what the characters are like and how they react when in conflict with villians. This also established the vision of the animators and creators of TMNT.

Video games gave fans the power to control the heroes within established storylines. Video games works well as a platform since fans have a clear goal in mind, which is to complete the story and finish the game. How they do this is up to player as they decide which character they get to be and control how exactly they finish off the villains. Fans become more familiar with the characters as well as the TMNT narrative.

Photo: http://www.ign.com/blogs

Jenkins, H. (2007, March 22). Transmedia Storytelling 101. Retrieved from http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html

Transmedia Storytelling – World Wrestling Entertainment

Here’s an example of transmedia storytelling I posted on our course blog for New Media Narratives. You can find more details about transmedia storytelling from Dr. Henry Jenkins’ blog post.

Example 1: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)

The WWE has utilized transmedia storytelling in the past to develop its characters and plots. It has been years since I watched wrestling but do remember the methods that were used in the eighties. Television was used for wrestling matches and to promote the good guy versus the bad guy drama. A Saturday morning cartoon was developed starring the wrestlers with stories that contributed to the franchises storylines. The opening itself for Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling was a blend of real-life and cartoon.

Today, the WWE uses weekly television shows along with Twitter to develop their storylines and characters. The television program is live and provides fans with two hours of time for several storylines to develop. Programming includes matches, highlights from previous weeks and promotions for upcoming pay-per-views and merchandise. The television is a valuable medium since wrestling and acting is a visual and audio display. Hearing two men grunt out a match on the radio just would not work out as effectively. Television content is also available online after the show has aired.

Twitter is a platform that allows for the continuation of the storyline before and after the television programming. Fans receive real-time updates regarding content but also stay in touch with the wrestlers who send messages to build up their matches and appearances. It suits the build up of the storylines since it fills the silence that exists between live programming. The storylines don’t always require a visual aid and can be communicated by text.

Jenkins, H. (2007, March 22). Transmedia Storytelling 101. Retrieved from http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html

Swallow, E. (2011, January 28). How WWE Conquered the Social Media Arena. Mashable.
Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/01/28/wwe-social-media/#