April 22, 2014
The Best (and Worst) NBA Teams on Facebook

The NBA playoffs have begun. The emotions of millions are at stake every night.
But NBA franchises are also businesses, and those businesses depend on fans buying into the team, both literally and figuratively. And now, Facebook is the dominant place where those fans perform their identities online. The franchise Facebook page has become a key indicator of business health. 
So, Spanish researchers at the University of Extremadura decided to create a tool that would let them at least quasi-objectively rank teams’ Facebook presences. 
"Social media provide a unique and strategic means for sport teams to enhance brand management, encourage social interactions among fans, promote ticket sales, and cultivate a more favorable online experience," writes the research team, led by Francisco Javier Miranda in the International Journal of Sports Communication.
The list Miranda’s team compiled is interesting, too, because of how it intersects with the performance of the teams on the court.
Read more.[Image: Alexis Madrigal, data from Miranda et al]

The Best (and Worst) NBA Teams on Facebook

The NBA playoffs have begun. The emotions of millions are at stake every night.

But NBA franchises are also businesses, and those businesses depend on fans buying into the team, both literally and figuratively. And now, Facebook is the dominant place where those fans perform their identities online. The franchise Facebook page has become a key indicator of business health. 

So, Spanish researchers at the University of Extremadura decided to create a tool that would let them at least quasi-objectively rank teams’ Facebook presences. 

"Social media provide a unique and strategic means for sport teams to enhance brand management, encourage social interactions among fans, promote ticket sales, and cultivate a more favorable online experience," writes the research team, led by Francisco Javier Miranda in the International Journal of Sports Communication.

The list Miranda’s team compiled is interesting, too, because of how it intersects with the performance of the teams on the court.

Read more.[Image: Alexis Madrigal, data from Miranda et al]

April 18, 2014
The Site of Several 2016 Olympic Aquatic Events Has 195 Times the Safe Amount of Sewage in the Water

RIO DE JANEIRO – Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes … “Ew, what’s that smell?”
At Ipanema beach in January, the organization Meu Rio staged a protest in an attempt to make it known that thousands of gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the ocean off Rio’s coast each day.
“For three months we held protests every weekend to turn an invisible problem into a visible one,” Leona Deckelbaum, the campaign coordinator with Meu Rio, said in a recent interview. Only about 34 percent of Rio’s sewage is treated, and the rest simply washes into the azure waters, giving new meaning to the nautical term poop deck.
Guanabara Bay, the site of several 2016 Olympic sailing events, has 78 times Brazil’s legally allowed limit of fecal pollution, and 195 times the U.S. limit. In addition to human waste, the bay is also a receptacle for trash from ships and the bay’s 15 adjacent communities, as well as toxic runoff from a former landfill. And its not just Guanabara–the ritzy Leblon and Ipanema beach areas are plagued with similar pollution problems. The state environmental agency, INEA, found that Leblon and Ipanema were unfit for swimming for 40 percent of 2011. Botafogo Beach had so much fecal pollution that it did not pass a single INEA test in 2013, according to the BBC. 
"In the waters just off Copacabana beach, the measurement of fecal coliform bacteria spiked to 16 times the Brazilian government’s satisfactory level as recently as three weeks ago, bad news for the marathon swimmers and triathletes set to compete there," the AP noted in November.
Olympic teams are getting grossed out and nervous.
Read more. [Image: Felipe Dana/AP]

The Site of Several 2016 Olympic Aquatic Events Has 195 Times the Safe Amount of Sewage in the Water

RIO DE JANEIRO – Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes … “Ew, what’s that smell?”

At Ipanema beach in January, the organization Meu Rio staged a protest in an attempt to make it known that thousands of gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the ocean off Rio’s coast each day.

“For three months we held protests every weekend to turn an invisible problem into a visible one,” Leona Deckelbaum, the campaign coordinator with Meu Rio, said in a recent interview. Only about 34 percent of Rio’s sewage is treated, and the rest simply washes into the azure waters, giving new meaning to the nautical term poop deck.

Guanabara Bay, the site of several 2016 Olympic sailing events, has 78 times Brazil’s legally allowed limit of fecal pollution, and 195 times the U.S. limit. In addition to human waste, the bay is also a receptacle for trash from ships and the bay’s 15 adjacent communities, as well as toxic runoff from a former landfill. And its not just Guanabara–the ritzy Leblon and Ipanema beach areas are plagued with similar pollution problems. The state environmental agency, INEA, found that Leblon and Ipanema were unfit for swimming for 40 percent of 2011. Botafogo Beach had so much fecal pollution that it did not pass a single INEA test in 2013, according to the BBC

"In the waters just off Copacabana beach, the measurement of fecal coliform bacteria spiked to 16 times the Brazilian government’s satisfactory level as recently as three weeks ago, bad news for the marathon swimmers and triathletes set to compete there," the AP noted in November.

Olympic teams are getting grossed out and nervous.

Read more. [Image: Felipe Dana/AP]

April 9, 2014
Why Hasn’t Congress Investigated Corruption in the NCAA?

PED use in baseball merited a Congressional hearing. A similar investigation should be probing into educational institutions’ use of athletics and athletes for profit.
Read more. [Image: Frank Franklin II/AP]

Why Hasn’t Congress Investigated Corruption in the NCAA?

PED use in baseball merited a Congressional hearing. A similar investigation should be probing into educational institutions’ use of athletics and athletes for profit.

Read more. [Image: Frank Franklin II/AP]

April 7, 2014
Of Course Student-Athletes Are University Employees

Are college athletes university employees? It’s a question that has gripped the sports world since January, when a group of Northwestern University football players petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to form a union. The debate has only intensified since March 26, when a regional director in Chicago surprised many by granting the players’ petition.
The backbone of regional director Peter Sung Ohr’s 24-page ruling that the players are employees and thus have the right to form a union was the exhaustive description of the responsibilities and time-consuming demands of Northwestern football players. The judge said the evidence put forth by the team members, led by former quarterback Kain Colter and the College Athletes Players Association, showed that football “student-athletes” at Northwestern spend 40 to 50 hours a week on football-related activities for the duration of the regular season and bowl season, and have a virtual year-round commitment to the program. Thus, they are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, Ohr concluded.
Read more. [Image: Paul Beaty/AP]

Of Course Student-Athletes Are University Employees

Are college athletes university employees? It’s a question that has gripped the sports world since January, when a group of Northwestern University football players petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to form a union. The debate has only intensified since March 26, when a regional director in Chicago surprised many by granting the players’ petition.

The backbone of regional director Peter Sung Ohr’s 24-page ruling that the players are employees and thus have the right to form a union was the exhaustive description of the responsibilities and time-consuming demands of Northwestern football players. The judge said the evidence put forth by the team members, led by former quarterback Kain Colter and the College Athletes Players Association, showed that football “student-athletes” at Northwestern spend 40 to 50 hours a week on football-related activities for the duration of the regular season and bowl season, and have a virtual year-round commitment to the program. Thus, they are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, Ohr concluded.

Read more. [Image: Paul Beaty/AP]

March 31, 2014
Here Is Every U.S. County’s Favorite Baseball Team (According to Facebook)

Happy Opening Day. What’s your favorite baseball team?
Wait, no, let me rephrase that: What’s the team you ‘like’ the most?
The Facebook Data Science has just answered that question for the whole country, at least at the county level. A representative of the team sent me the map above—here’s a link to a larger version.
Read more. [Image: Facebook Data Science]

Here Is Every U.S. County’s Favorite Baseball Team (According to Facebook)

Happy Opening Day. What’s your favorite baseball team?

Wait, no, let me rephrase that: What’s the team you ‘like’ the most?

The Facebook Data Science has just answered that question for the whole country, at least at the county level. A representative of the team sent me the map above—here’s a link to a larger version.

Read more. [Image: Facebook Data Science]

March 21, 2014
Is March Madness a Sporting Event—Or a Gambling Event?

Even the tiniest of office pools threaten the integrity of the game, according to the NCAA. But the organization knows that if it weren’t for bracketology, the madness wouldn’t be so mad.
Read more. [Image: Brennan Linsley/AP]

Is March Madness a Sporting Event—Or a Gambling Event?

Even the tiniest of office pools threaten the integrity of the game, according to the NCAA. But the organization knows that if it weren’t for bracketology, the madness wouldn’t be so mad.

Read more. [Image: Brennan Linsley/AP]

March 11, 2014
Should Pete Rose Be in the Hall of Fame? Let the Voters Decide

One  of baseball’s longest-standing controversies could likely be resolved if the players’ union got involved.
Read more. [Image: David Kohl/AP]

Should Pete Rose Be in the Hall of Fame? Let the Voters Decide

One  of baseball’s longest-standing controversies could likely be resolved if the players’ union got involved.

Read more. [Image: David Kohl/AP]

March 4, 2014
A Nationalist Brain: There’s Nothing So Satisfying As Belonging to a Group

It was a good old-fashioned Olympic scandal in Sochi, when South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna, known as “the Queen,” lost to a less experienced Russian. The judgment spurred millions of angry Tweets, and a Change.org petition protesting the result was the fastest growing one on site record—reportedly more than 1.2 million signatures in about 12 hours.
Skating officials and fans around the world have questioned the decision, but critics remain focused on the South Korean outrage, largely since their sports fanaticism has made headlines before. Diehard citizens of countries like South Korea may seem odd to some; a post on Yahoo had the misguided headline: “Deal with it, South Korea.” But this line of thinking fails to understand the nature of nationalism, an ideology strongly associated with war and extremism that is in fact a common psychological phenomenon seen in everyday life—including sports.
Read more. [Image: Vhadim Ghirda/AP Photo]

A Nationalist Brain: There’s Nothing So Satisfying As Belonging to a Group

It was a good old-fashioned Olympic scandal in Sochi, when South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna, known as “the Queen,” lost to a less experienced Russian. The judgment spurred millions of angry Tweets, and a Change.org petition protesting the result was the fastest growing one on site record—reportedly more than 1.2 million signatures in about 12 hours.

Skating officials and fans around the world have questioned the decision, but critics remain focused on the South Korean outrage, largely since their sports fanaticism has made headlines before. Diehard citizens of countries like South Korea may seem odd to some; a post on Yahoo had the misguided headline: “Deal with it, South Korea.” But this line of thinking fails to understand the nature of nationalism, an ideology strongly associated with war and extremism that is in fact a common psychological phenomenon seen in everyday life—including sports.

Read more. [Image: Vhadim Ghirda/AP Photo]

February 21, 2014
The Lesson of Sochi 2014: Figure Skating Takes Grit, Not Just Grace

“Redemption” is a word that gets tossed around a lot in figure skating—sports reporters have used it more times in this Olympics than I could even begin to count.
But in the end, figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics really was about redemption. This year’s event was full of occasions when no other word would do.
Read more. [Image: Vadim Ghirda/AP]

The Lesson of Sochi 2014: Figure Skating Takes Grit, Not Just Grace

“Redemption” is a word that gets tossed around a lot in figure skating—sports reporters have used it more times in this Olympics than I could even begin to count.

But in the end, figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics really was about redemption. This year’s event was full of occasions when no other word would do.

Read more. [Image: Vadim Ghirda/AP]

February 20, 2014
There Is No Olympic Hockey Rivalry Between the U.S. and Canada

For the second straight Winter Olympics, the U.S. and Canada are in each other’s way for hockey gold. The American and Canadian women face off in the gold medal game on Thursday at noon Eastern, while the men battle Friday in a semifinal match between tournament favorites.
The twin-bill North American throwdown has many people talking about a U.S.-Canada hockey rivalry being one of the best parts of these Winter Olympics. “If it seems like the USA-Canada Olympic rivalry is heated already, it might melt the ice by the end of the week,” trumpeted Bleacher Report’s Dan Levy. A video segment by USA Today’s Christine Brennan previewing Thursday’s Olympic action was titled “The Best Olympic Rivalry: USA-Canada in Women’s Hockey.” 
It’s true that the Olympic matchups between the U.S. and Canada have gotten more competitive, more dramatic, and more fierce in the last two decades. But a true rivalry has ebbs and flows—and for most of the last 90 years, Canada has owned the United States in Olympic hockey.
Read more. [Image: Petr David Josek/AP]

There Is No Olympic Hockey Rivalry Between the U.S. and Canada

For the second straight Winter Olympics, the U.S. and Canada are in each other’s way for hockey gold. The American and Canadian women face off in the gold medal game on Thursday at noon Eastern, while the men battle Friday in a semifinal match between tournament favorites.

The twin-bill North American throwdown has many people talking about a U.S.-Canada hockey rivalry being one of the best parts of these Winter Olympics. “If it seems like the USA-Canada Olympic rivalry is heated already, it might melt the ice by the end of the week,” trumpeted Bleacher Report’s Dan Levy. A video segment by USA Today’s Christine Brennan previewing Thursday’s Olympic action was titled “The Best Olympic Rivalry: USA-Canada in Women’s Hockey.”

It’s true that the Olympic matchups between the U.S. and Canada have gotten more competitive, more dramatic, and more fierce in the last two decades. But a true rivalry has ebbs and flows—and for most of the last 90 years, Canada has owned the United States in Olympic hockey.

Read more. [Image: Petr David Josek/AP]

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