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UK Twitter chat in 2013 dominated by soccer. Good thing or bad thing?

Dec 12, 2013, 8:01 AM EST

Manchester United v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

When looking back at the biggest UK Twitter “surges” of 2013 there is one topic that dominates the landscape: footy.

That’s the report coming from BBC tech reporter, David Lee, who found that eight of the 10 biggest “tweet surges” in the UK concerned sport and that seven of those eight pertained to soccer.

The biggest spike in UK Twitter traffic came on that fateful night on March 5th when Real Madrid, after being outplayed for a majority of the game, beat Manchester United to knock them out of the Champions League.

The drama within that match was multi-layered with Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the hallowed ground where in 2008 he claimed the Balon d’Or, Nani being sent off for an innocuous challenge in the 56th minute, Luka Modric striking a vicious curler ten minutes later and then, in the 69th minute, Ronaldo scoring the winner but refusing to celebrate the goal out of respect for Old Trafford.

The 2nd and 3rd UK tweet surges came from New Years Eve celebrations and Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon where he became the first male British singles champion since 1936.

Tweet storms ranking 4th-8th all concerned the global game. England’s 2-2 draw with Brazil on June 2nd caused fingers to fly while Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund also proved tweetworthy as it was too little too late for Los Blancos. Wigan Athletic’s dramatic 1-0 win over Manchester City in the May 11th FA Cup final prompted footy fans to flood Twitter as did Bayern Munich’s 4-0 destruction of Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final marking the sentimental end of the tiki-taka’s reign.

And while the UK proved it’s also moved by music – as Mumford & Sons’ close of Glastonbury Festival hit Twitter hard – the 10th most tweeted event in 2013 was once again good ole football as England qualified for the World Cup by beating Poland 2-0 on October 15th.

So how does this information reflect on the UK and, in the broader sense, us as humans?

On the surface the information confirms what we already know, the UK is a footy-obsessed sovereign state.

One could view this information as discouraging in the sense that major world events, like the Iran Nuclear Deal or the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, aren’t topping the Twitter headlines.

Some may say this is regression of the highest form but for me such a view would feel harsh and misguided.

The UK tweet surges of 2014 concern two major topics – sport and pop culture. Light-hearted topics. Small talk. Topics that, in large part, are of a positive nature and allow others to engage, participate and interact. Rile each other up. Have some fun.

When it comes down to it, paying attention to things like sports and pop culture is all about escapism. It helps us get away from stressors and things in life that get us down – taxes, a boss who micromanages, paying the rent, global warming, senseless acts of violence.

Sometimes we simply need to get away from the negativity and bask in a landscape of (largely positive) social interaction about topics that don’t increase the dread in life than tends to keep us humans down.

Evidently, Twitter provides that.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Dec 12, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    Twitter doesn’t provide that. It doesn’t provide anything. It only reflects. Soccer provides the distraction.

  2. footballer4ever - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    I don’t see any issue that football talk dominates UK twitter more like eggball does in the US media.

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