Which Social Network is Your Pro Sports League [infographic]

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This is a happy day, as NFL football is BACK. With eyes wide open to its warts and deficiencies, including my personal belief that the league is headed for a major decline in popularity (I rant about that in this Jay Today video), I can’t disguise my delight that I can again waste indefensible portions of my time following my woebegone Cardinals and the players on my sons’ three fantasy teams. (no fantasy for me any more – too much travel was killing my ability to work the waiver wire well enough to play with my experienced group of cronies)

More so than in any season I can recall, the return of regular season play coincides this year with multiple controversies, including Welker + Molly, Irsay + pills, Rice (and others) + domestic violence, Gordon + weed addiction, and many more.

This confluence of extreme popularity and irksome, potentially reputation-harming events got me thinking that the NFL and Facebook are essentially the same animal. And THAT got me thinking about which social network is best represented by which sports league, and vice-versa.

And that’s how you end up with this infographic (scroll down for explanations)

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NFL = Facebook (Big Enough to Hate)
These are the titans. By far the most popular of their type, their every utterance and policy change creates a national freakout. They also suck up the majority of our time, because of the network effect: we watch football because everyone watches football. We use Facebook because everyone else is doing it. We love to hate the NFL and Facebook while we simultaneously hate it that we love them.

MLB = LinkedIn (Slow and Old)
Mathematically, Major League Baseball and LinkedIn are well-loved, with many millions of fans. Culturally, however, there is something missing. The slow pace of baseball and the complete lack of memes on Linkedin have the same effect: lack of larger cultural relevance that’s driven by a near-total absence of interest among youth. LinkedIn has lowered their minimum age to 13 and launched a major content publishing platform. Yet Ariana Grande still isn’t rocking it. Baseball just keeps adding playoff teams to manufacture late-season interest, but it still sounds like white noise.

NBA = Instagram (Snackable and Disposable)
Young, hip, urban, mobile, snackable, and filled with highlights. The National Basketball Association and Instagram are made for each other like Jon Oliver and structured indignation. If you love social media but have a decent case of ADHD, chances are you love Instagram. If you’re a sports fan and have a decent case of ADHD, I’ll wager you have a Kevin Durant screen-saver.

NHL = Twitter (Fast and Faster)
Based on popularity, you might make the case that the NBA and Twitter would be aligned, and you can feel free to tell me so in the comments. But for me, the pure speed of hockey and the visceral, right now nature of Twitter are most similar. Hockey is the fastest sport by far, and Twitter is the equivalent social network, regardless of how hard Facebook tries to become the live event platform. These two share a meta similarity as well, in that hockey is cool to watch on TV but is WAY better in person; and while you can follow news or special events on Twitter, it’s no substitute for the real thing. I realize Chobani may be firing out clever tweets every five minutes during the Emmys or whatever, but don’t forget that you can simply WATCH IT YOURSELF and stop outsourcing your irony to yogurt.

PGA = G+ (Acquired Tastes)
While not big enough to grab and hold broad cultural attention, the PGA Tour and G+ are, however, beloved by a very specific group of advocates and supporters. Based on the television commercials, PGA is evidently cherished by ED sufferers, while G+ is big among tech gurus, photographers, and people who reject Facebook on general principle. I’m personally a big fan of PGA and G+ and I’m happy to sit through dozens of Cialis commercials if that’s what it takes. These two are also shrouded by doubts, as the Tiger Woods-less PGA meanders around like a blind cave fish, and rumors of the demise of G+ are persistently pernicious.

NASCAR = Pinterest (Hater Magnets)
Want proof of this overlap? Just check out NASCAR’s awesome Pinterest board! What ties these together is not just the demographic homogeneity of their audiences, but also the fact that they are pooh-poohed by nearly everyone that isn’t a fan. The person who isn’t a hockey freak will just say “I’m not a fan, I don’t get it.” But the anti-NASCAR guy goes out of his way to diminish the sport’s fans, participants, hygiene and more. Pinterest has a similar issue in that people who don’t use Pinterest are threatened by it and make snide remarks about its soccer mom user base. But guess what? Those haters are missing out on EVERY worthwhile cookie recipe, ever (among other delights).

What do you think? What changes would you make?

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