It is not news that social media has changed every arena and industry since its genesis, from social justice movements to healthcare to television; the sport’s world is no exception. Social media, specifically Twitter, has transformed how fans and foes communicate with one another and with their teams. The social media giant essentially serves as a virtual sports’ bar for fans and rivals alike to brag, argue, boo, or cheer despite location.
You are not a fan of the call the ref made? Complain with your fellow fans.
Did your favorite player have an excellent game? Brag with your fellow fans.
Did your team dominate in the season opener? Let the world know about it.
Are you ready for your team’s season to get started? Sing your rally cry in 140 characters.
Did your team break a curse that lasted 108 years? Fly the W with the fellow Chicago faithful.
This phenomena of a virtual sports’ bar was showcased through the pinnacle of America’s favorite pastime, the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. Specifically, how Cubs’ fans discussed being cursed on Twitter throughout the post season.
The Curse of the Billy Goat and the Chicago Cubs
Even if you are not a die-hard baseball fan, odds are you are aware that the Cubs playing the World Series is historic at minimum and a dream come true to many of the Chicago faithful. Since 1945 many fans have believed that their beloved Cubbies were cursed by tavern owner, William “Billy Goat” Sianis. Sianis attempted to bring along his pet goat, Murphy, to game four of the 1945 World Series. The pair was not admitted because of Murphy’s smell which angered Sianis greatly. It is reported he professed, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more.” The Cubs lost that World Series and instantly The Curse of the Billy Goat was born.
The Curse was nearly broken in 2003, which fans refer to as the “Bartman game”. The Cubs were up 3-0 and just five outs away from their first World Series appearance in nearly 60 years. A foul ball was hit that fell over the wall in the left field, Cubs’ left fielder Moises Alou went to make the grab to close out the inning, but a fan (Steve Bartman) reached for the ball as well, knocking it out of play. Following this play the Cubs gave up five runs that inning, losing the game and ultimately losing the National League Championship Series. The curse lived on.
Curse Conversation on Twitter
Twitter was not around during the lion share of the Curse of the Billy Goat, it certainly was not around in 1945 and still had not gotten off the ground for the Bartman game in 2003. Can you imagine if an entity existed where any fan, rival, spectator, coach or reporter could gather in one space to discuss the magnitude and heartbreak of the curse?
Thanks to the creation Twitter and our analytics team we do not have to.
Our analyst listened to how frequently the words/phrases: curse, cursed, curse of the Billy goat, Billy Goat, Steve Bartman or Bartman were mentioned along with the Cubs throughout the postseason (October 7, 2016 – November 3, 2016). Check out our findings below:
The Importance of Knowing Your Audience
Twitter has not only eliminated the guessing game in the sports’ world but in a plethora of industries. The platform has created virtual physician offices, virtual presidential debate watch parties, and virtual discussion groups on topics ranging from latest software update to the latest museum openings. Brands, companies and people are no longer guessing what the people they care about are talking about and how they are behaving online. At W2O Group we define this as audience architecture. The combination of technological advancements, analytics expertise and a need to improve outdated models is leading to a new way to identify, architect and then learn from the specific audiences you care about.
In short, it is key to know what audience segments are saying about themselves, but also what their online behavior is saying about the types of stories that will have the most impact on them, whether it is discovering a product or celebrating the end of 108 year old curse, people are talking on social media and it is key for brands and companies to listen.
Creative for this project was provided by Jon Carrillo, a graphic designer at W2O Group. Connect with him on LinkedIn and if you don’t mind the occasional rant about the San Antonio Spurs, follow him on Twitter at @JonnyCTweets!
Analytics for this project were provided by Madison Reineke. Madison is a junior analyst at W2O Group where she focuses on deriving data-driven insights for a wide breadth of clients. She is a recent graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and majored in Advertising Management. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.