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The World Champion of All Sports?

By Brian | January 17, 2007 | Share on Facebook

Every once in a while, I read something on the web that reminds me to check Google’s Zeitgeist page. Particularly in January, when they produce their End of Year Zeitgeist, the data provides a real, grassroots view of popular culture around the world. Since Google has become so ubiquitous, the number of Google searches for a given item has become a strong barometer of how much people are talking about a given person or event – a kind of a “water-cooler index,” if you will.

Take, for example, the graph above. The (baseball) World Series is relatively popular in the United States in the fall. The (American football) Superbowl is more popular than the World Series, and more globally watched, for a short period of time in the winter. Hence, the green line has a higher peak than the red line. In an Olympic year, the Olympics generate more buzz than the Superbowl and the World Series put together, given their natural relevance to multiple countries around the world, which explains the still higher peak of the yellow line.

Then there’s the (soccer) World Cup. I’ve always heard that it was the most popular sporting event in the world, but HOLY RIOTING CROWDS, BATMAN!, look at the size of that blue line! That’s four times the interest of the Olympics, six times the interest of the Superbowl, and almost twenty times the interest of the World Series!

Ya learn something new every day…

Topics: Sports Talk, Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “The World Champion of All Sports?”

  1. Jeff Porten says at January 20th, 2007 at 8:13 pm :
    I think you’re misinterpreting the data. Keep in mind that global Internet traffic is still heavily US-dominated. Also note that most Americans would have zero need to Google for baseball or football — our culture is soaking in it, if you will. Hell, even I know when the Superbowl is this year.

    The World Cup, though, is a different animal in the US, but not overseas. The average guy in France has zero need to look up the World Cup in Google, ne c’est pas?

    So this spike probably doesn’t indicate the global interest in soccer over American sports (which, in fact, you don’t really need Google to demonstrate). Instead, it likely shows an incipient American interest in soccer which probably indicates why LA thought Beckham was worth $250 million.

    Two followup questions:

    1) did you generate that graph yourself? I’d be very interested to see “poker” charted.

    2) Perhaps we should be more interested that the number one “what” Zeitgeist is “what is promiscuous”.

  2. Brian says at January 21st, 2007 at 11:22 pm :
    Good points. Now that you mention it, you’re probably right. In which case, it shows how large the gap is between supply and demand for information on the World Cup, as compared with the World Series or the Superbowl.

    To you questions:

    1) No, the graph was on the “Sports” tab of the Zeitgeist page.

    2) This might speak to the average age of internet users, in a similar way you pointed out their predominant country of origin…

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