CadChica’s SSM Digest: May 2013

No NFL.

No college football or basketball.

No problem.

The month of May provided sports fans with a wide variety of moments from horses to hoops, racing to retirements, to baseball and golf controversies, and these two really minor sporting events going on right now. Something called…hmm…what are they?

Oh! Yeah. Those two little things called

NBA and NHL playoffs.

It was an action packed filled month. But it was also a month that showed us resilience, determination and community. Yet again, when disaster strikes, boundaries of political, religious and yes, even sports lines, are dropped in the name of helping a neighbor as we saw in the aftermath of the tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma earlier this month.

Here’s my Sports Social Media Digest for May 2013

***

Word of the tornadoes spread quickly across the sports Twitterverse. The ferocity, the vastness and the aftermath shocked many. Sports stars and organizations were quick to respond.

Thunder star, Kevin Durant, not only donated money to relief efforts but he donated his time too:

A few others of note who were moved to donate in whatever way they could:

Tornado season will end soon. But the recovery process will be a long one. Continue to keep everyone affected in your thoughts and prayers.

(For more pictures of the ongoing relief efforts, check out the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Instagram page .)

***

As the calendar turned to May, two of the longest playoff seasons in sports went into full effect: the NBA and NHL playoffs. Starting in April and not ending until June, the two leagues had varying degrees of interest and controversy during games and a mix of social media highlights and lowlights as well.

NHL

The NHL playoffs started off with a bang with two of the three opening games going to overtime. But there was one moment that generated huge response on social media:

Debate raged as to the legality of the hit:

The Senators’ Eric Gryba would go on to be suspended two games for his hit on Eller. Eller has no recollection of the hit:

The games have been exciting with three of the eight first round series and two of the four conference semi-final series going the full seven games. I suppose I should be careful with using the word “exciting”. Although game 7’s in hockey tend to be epic, the playoffs themselves sparked their own debate as to whether they were exciting or not, as evidenced by this article from SB Nation and this brief Twitter exchange:

One hockey story that went under the radar in sports/social media circles was this one on the banning of bodychecking in pee-wee hockey in Canada. From that CBC article:

Proponents of the national ban say it will help reduce the number of injuries among children — peewee players are usually 11- or 12-year-olds — while critics say it will prevent them from learning an important skill that is part of the game.

As passionate as Canadians are about their game, they are just as much so with peewee hockey:

*

NBA

Before getting to the playoffs, there were a few off-court stories worth noting for the NBA. Perhaps the biggest story was an end to the Sacramento Kings’ ownership saga. For as much flux as the Kings were in under the Maloof ownership for the last few years, it seemed inevitable that with David Stern as commissioner, the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen had no chance of completing the purchase of the Sacramento franchise. Incumbency matters.

Bleacher Report put together a great timeline, with social media elements, of the Kings’ saga, here.

Congratulations to Sacramento.

*

Tis the season for awards. The NBA Social Media Awards, that is.

The NBA Social Media Awards presented by SAP will be divided into various categories recognizing social activity across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more. Along with returning awards such as The BIG (Best In The Game) Award and The LOL (Laugh out Loud) Award, new categories this year include:

— #Trendsetter Award — for the player that displayed the best sense of style via social media; 
— The 140 Award — for the player with the most impressive tweet of the year;
— The OMG Award — for the team with the best video shared via social; 
— The Social Rook of the Year Award — for the rookie with the biggest increase in popularity across social media platforms.

Not everyone thinks this is a good thing:

Despite the naysayers, the 2nd annual NBA Social Media Awards is a natural fit for the league. In the past year, the NBA has exploded in terms of engagement with fans on a multiple social media platforms. A small part of the reason the NBA and its teams have seen growth is not just because they’re using social media. Rather, they’re developing strategies to engage fans where they want. But I believe the bigger reason for the growth has come from fans themselves embracing social media in monumental numbers in the past year.

According to a report from GlobalWebIndexOne Pinterest may have dominated U.S. Growth in 2012, but Twitter had the largest global growth. In 2012, monthly worldwide active Twitter users grew 40% from Q2 to Q4, nearly a 288 million user increase. The new number means that 21% of the global worldwide population are active users. -MarketingLand.com

A 40% increase on just Twitter alone last year? I’d say a fair chunk of that 288 million includes sports fans. What strategies have some of the NBA teams used during the playoffs? Here’s a quick look at a few of the giveaways and messages from NBA playoff teams:

Knicks FB

Chicago Bulls

Job well done by the Golden State Warriors during the playoffs. They were continually engaged, interactive and providing different social elements on all platforms.

*

In terms of social, besides teams and players, the fans also made news during these playoffs:

First up, the San Antonio Spurs “screaming lady“:

Definitely not to be outdone, I present the Miami Heat lady:

And last but not least, sad Pacers fan:

***

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention perhaps the biggest sporting news “globally” in the world of soccer (football). Two of the biggest names in the sport announced their retirement:

Manchester United

While both had been rumored, the actual finality of the retirements of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham seemed strange. And yet, it also feels entirely appropriate that they both leave on their own terms…together.

Meanwhile, in a bit of a surprise match-up, FC Bayern met up with Bundesliga rival, Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) Final. Many had predicted early in the Champions League tournament that at least one, if not both, of the Spanish powerhouses, FC Barcelona or Real Madrid, would be there at the finish. But it was the two German outfits that endured and provided one of the more entertaining UCL games in recent memory.

On paper, FC Bayern was the heavy favorite, having run away from the rest of the Bundesliga during the season. But it was Dortmund who put on the pressure early with great skill, passing and wide open pressure. Bayern would score first but Dortmund would not be denied all game. It took a burden-lifting goal from Bayern’s Arjen Robben with only minutes left in the game to bring to a close an action-packed, well-played Champions League game.

How did this game stack up, socially?

***

Other Top Moments In May SSM

  • May 4 and 18: The first and third Saturdays in May brings hope to sports fans around the globe. A first step in a race toward history. History that has not been seen since the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, won it in 1978.  A very muddy Kentucky Derby provided one of the pre-race favorites, Orb, the chance to “be” the long-awaited history-maker. Oxbow had other plans on the third Saturday in May, upsetting favorite Orb to win the Preakness Stakes by a length and three-quarters.

  While we may not see a Triple Crown winner this year, the Kentucky Derby did leave us with some indelible moments. One   particular sports celebrity comes to mind:

Two great pictures of the two winners from ESPN the Magazine:

  • May 5: The Talladega Super Speedway has provided some dynamic races in NASCAR history. But this past month, gave us an interesting dynamic off the track, courtesy of Brad Keselowski.

After further review, Keselowski would issue an apology. I have more on his tweets and the reaction to them in my “Passion > Boring” post. Make no mistake, I like those who are passionate about what they do. Keselowski, by all accounts, seems like a passionate guy…even on Twitter.

  • May 21: The NFL awarded two cities the privilege of hosting future Super Bowls. Houston will host Super Bowl LI while San Francisco precedes them by hosting Super Bowl L. The beloved Roman Numeral system used by the NFL generated some funny tweets but none funnier than this one:

And…

As a Raiders fan, this seems so very unlikely given the current state of the franchise this last decade:

  • May 24, 26: Indy Car racing returned to the sports news forefront thanks to social media. This video spread like wildfire on Twitter and Reddit. At last check, this ending of the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights race had over 826k YouTube views. I guess that’s what happens when it’s a four-wide finish separated by only fractions of a second.

For a closer look at that finish:

That kind of finish only built up anticipation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Before the race began, however…

Vines from the day:

Brazilian, Tony Kanaan, would emerge the winner of a somewhat controversial finish. Controversial in that the race finished under a yellow caution flag. As NBC Sports’ Motorsportstalk put it:

A case in point: in the immediate aftermath of an outcome like yesterday’s finish at the Indianapolis 500, there were enough tweets and comments on social media and message boards that “the finish sucked because there was no green-white-checkered!”

Yes, Twitter was filled with outcries, particularly from NASCAR circles, that it was a major letdown:

Despite the hullabaloo, the day ultimately belonged to Kanaan:

Indy 500 FB page

…and to his good friends Dario Franchitti and the late, Dan Wheldon:

Yet, as I finish writing this today, June 1, some people are still not willing to let go of that finish. And Tony Kanaan is not about to let anyone forget that the day belonged to him:

Kanaan FB response***

As is always the case, there are many more sports social media stories that were not included this month. If I added them all you’d be reading for a week, at least. Stories like the ESPN/SEC Network announcement (which spawned the hashtag #SECNetworkShows), Tim Tebow named most influential athlete, College Football Hall of Fame announced, MLB umpires continuing to get hammered for “obvious” mistakes, Wayne Rooney’s Twitter bio, Andrew Wiggins, Nick Saban “the devil himself”, the great GIF/JIF debate, Rutgers’ troubles and so-on and so-on. Never a dull moment in sports social media.

Good moments. Bad moments. It’s all-encompassing. So let’s end it on a funny note shall we?

***

CadChica Sports

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