Archive for the 'Sports' Category

Neat visualization of World-Cup-related tweets

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

The Guardian’s replay of Twitter posts during various World Cup games is great! Pick a game by clicking on one of the colorful dots – as opposed to the gray ones that signal games not yet played – and not only see the changing relative popularity of related tweet themes, but also see when things happened during the game. (In addition to these showing up on the side next to players’ names as time goes by, you can also see the entire game time line below the figure and move to any specific point by dragging the blue arrow.) Very cool. (Tx: Gilad)

Why Olympics coverage in the U.S. sucks

Friday, August 8th, 2008

I thought I’d get this rant out of the way before the season hits. Watching the Olympics in the US is no fun, because the only thing you can watch is Americans winning. You’d think the U.S. is the only country ever winning from the coverage. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for Americans to win, but I’m happy for other people to win, too. In fact, in some ways it’s much more interesting when you have a diversity of folks competing and this is portrayed clearly in the coverage. It gets boring fast when all you can hear is the U.S. national anthem.

Growing up in Hungary, I remember watching all sorts of sports competitions – and I don’t just mean the Olympics – where people from all over were taking home the gold. Sure, Hungary is a small country (population 10 million, that’s like Chicagoland having its own team) and its athletes are only going to win so many medals so you could argue that by definition coverage would have to feature other competitions as well. But actually, for a small country, Hungary ranks very high on the all-time medals list (whoa, I actually had no idea how high before writing this post) so it’s not as though there aren’t opportunities to feature its own. Also, TV could just show less of the event if there were not enough Hungarian nationals to feature. But that’s not what happens as featuring one’s own doesn’t seem to be the point. I remember hearing plenty of other national anthems and seeing lots of different flags.

This approach of showcasing athletes from all over doesn’t seem to be restricted to small countries. I was in Italy (pop ~ 60 million) recently flipping through channels and noticed the Hungarian national anthem playing on one of them. The station opted to show the end result all the way despite the fact that Italians were not the winners. Then they played another anthem (the Russian one so I could sing along in Hungarian, hah) for another winner, again, not Italians.

I wonder how this works in other countries, especially the ones winning lots of medals (e.g., for 2004, Russia, China, Australia, Germany, Japan, France, etc.).

Gender differences in sharing creative content online

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

This ArsTechnica write-up of some recent research of mine has received numerous votes on the recommendation site Digg in the last few hours. I wonder if it will make the front page of Digg, although as a Twitter contact of mine noted, since it’s not a top-10 list (nor, if I might add, does it cover Google or Apple), that may be unlikely.

The post reports on a study in which we found that male college students are more likely than their female counterparts to share creative content online even though both men and women in the sample are equally likely to create such content. However, when controlling for online skill, the gender differences in posting go away.

Gina Walejko and I published the paper “The Participation Divide: Content Creation and Sharing in the Digital Age” this Spring in the journal Information, Communication and Society. We examine the extent to which college students share creative content online and whether we can identify any systematic differences by user background. In particular, we looked at whether students create and share the following types of material: poetry/fiction, artistic photography, music, and video (both completely own and remixed in the case of the latter two), including both private and public sharing.

Administering a paper-pencil survey on a diverse group of over a thousand first-year college students at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 2007, we found that men are significantly more likely to share their creative output online than women. This was especially true for video (with 40% of men sharing such content compared to 15% of women), but holds for the other types of material as well.

Curious to see what explains these differences in sharing, we looked at whether various measures of Internet experience account for the divergences. We controlled for years of use, frequency of Internet use, number of Internet access locations, and online skill. Of these four, skill was a significant predictor of sharing activity. In fact, once skill is in the model, gender is no longer a significant predictor of posting one’s material.

There may be additional issues going on for which, I’m afraid, we have no data. For example, women may be more concerned about privacy issues or the critiques their content may receive. I’m working with another student on doing some qualitative follow-up work on this aspect of the question.

There are some more details in a press release Northwestern put out about the study or feel free to send me a note for a copy of the full paper.

Superbowl dance

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Not interested in football, but still want to get into the Superbowl spirit? Check out Jeremy’s “The Boy Detective” dance choreographed for the occasion. Try at your own risk.

Requisite addendum from a Chicagolander: Go Bears!

Same-sex waltz

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

This week, Chicago has been hosting Gay Games VII. It’s been fun to have all the various high quality sports competitions in town. Of course, as a spectator, there is not much difference when you watch the competitions at these events vs others since most sports tend to be divided by gender. However, couples sports (like figure skating or dancing) may look a bit different. But actually, only if you focus in on the gender aspect.

It should not be much surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention that I opted to go see the Dance Sports event. I only made it to the A-level competition of the men’s Latin dances and the women’s 10-dance, but this was just as well since this is the highest level under international rules. It was superb.

Anecdotally, my impression has been that most people in Chicagoland have either been excited about the Gay Games in town or haven’t paid much attention. But of course there is the occasional hostile approach. You really do have to wonder why people can’t just let others be as you’re standing there in the ballroom with all the energy and enthusiasm from both the crowd and the participants. Better yet, imagine if peope realized that they could even get something out of these events themselves, like enjoying the hard work of some very talented people.

The surprise of the event for me was to find out that the World Champion couple for men’s Latin hales from Hungary. In the Gay Games this week they placed third. I found out from them that Budapest will be hosting this year’s Same Sex Dance Competition . This made me wonder how the competition (and related associations and studios) got that particular name. Is use of the term “gay” exclusionary? Is it less politically charged to say “same sex”? Is the idea that not everyone who participates is gay? Anyone know the history of this? Apologies if I’m missing something obvious.

Waiting for the perfect shot

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

I was at the Bulls vs. Knicks game last night. What a great ending: the perfect shot in the last second. Here is the recap of the last minute:

The Bulls were ahead 102-99 after Songaila hit two free throws with 51.1 seconds left in overtime. Crawford went 2-of-3 from the line after being fouled by Andres Nocioni to make it a one-point game. After Nocioni converted two foul shots with 8.3 seconds left, Crawford’s 3 tied it at 104.

There were 4.6 seconds left. Gordon saved the day by scoring in the last second (tenth of a second to be precise). It was awesome.

All this made me wonder: why do we bother – those of us who do:) – watching the first three quarters of basketball games? So much happens in the last few minutes almost regardless of what happened up until then. This is a layperson’s view and I certainly don’t have the stats to back this up, but it seems to me that this is quite often the case. Sure, we watch the game, because of the sheer enjoyment of the sport. Still, it seems that few sports competitions have as much riding on such a tiny last segment of the game as basketball.

So do we watch to figure out the optimal last-minute strategy? The Bulls did a horrible job with free throws last night so it was an especially good bet to foul them in the last few seconds. But would there have been a different strategy to retrieve the ball if they had not been doing so poorly on that front? I’m not saying that we have to be rational about our sports-viewing habits, but sitting through an entire basketball game seems particularly irrational.

UPDATE: I realize something out-of-the-ordinary happened at this game that I didn’t even really mention: the fact that one of the Knicks players ran into the stands. Frankly, from where I was sitting, this was easy to miss. There was some commotion at some point and then we saw a player leave the field, but it was not clear what had happened until I got home and checked the news.

Go Chicago!

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Given that I’m a proud Chicagoland resident, it’s only appropriate to send a shoutout to the White Sox and their fans even if I’m not necessarily much of a baseball fan and despite the fact that I live north of the north side.* CONGRATS! It’s fun to see all the excitement conveyed in some of the photostreams on Flickr. Sorry, Ted. (This weekend we can forget about all this and focus on the Northwestern-Michigan football game. Go ‘Cats!)

*If I was a baseball fan and given where I live, I’d have to be a Cubs fan. Every time I go downtown I go right past Wrigley Field so it’s hard not to feel more allegiance to that team. And while I realize some Cubs fans are as bitter as can be about the White Sox victory, that’s not me.

Tigers vs Wildcats

Friday, May 13th, 2005

Northwestern will be hosting Princeton for the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse quarterfinals this weekend. The game will be played right outside my office this Sunday at 1pm. The only glitch for me is that I’m at Dartmouth this weekend so I’ll miss it. Maybe it’s just as well, I probably wouldn’t know whom to cheer on (both teams?!). And I’m not sorry I’m at Dartmouth, I’m participating in a interesting conference.

UPDATE: NU beats Princeton 8-6 and proceeds to the semifinals.