New York has always expected much of its sports franchises. It’s no wonder — the nine New York-area major sports franchises have a combined 53 championships.
With big expectations, however, comes intense media scrutiny. Sports media in New York is notorious for its criticism of the area’s brightest stars and biggest teams. But is it any worse than the way fans feel about their favorite teams?
With the NFL season past its midway point and the playoffs looming, the time was as good as any to investigate whether the media has been unfairly critical of the New York Jets and New York Giants.
Using General Sentiment’s sentiment analysis, we investigated just how the web was reacting to the Jets’ and Giants’ 2013 seasons thus far. Not surprisingly, a Jets team expected to miss the playoffs, but gunning for a postseason spot with six weeks left in the season, was being held in a much-higher-than-expected regard than the Giants. Big Blue, which Las Vegas pegged to win nine games this season, lost its first six games and was still sub-.500 at 4-6.
From one week before the start of the season (Sept. 1) to Week 11 (Nov. 17), the Giants held an average sentiment score — a measure of conversation tone surrounding a topic measured between -100 and +100 — of just +9.2. The Jets, performing well above expectations, were averaging a sentiment score of +28.5.
When tracked against winning percentage, the sentiment scores for the both the Jets and Giants revealed an old adage to be true; winning cures all ills. In most cases, positive spikes in general sentiment accompanied weeks following a Jets or Giants victory, while losses were met with negative reactions. In both teams’ cases, the lowest sentiment points of the season followed “shocking” losses — the Jets’ 37-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills during Week 11 and the Giants’ 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 3.
All of this comes as no surprise to any surface level fan, but when digging deeper into General Sentiment’s vast data reserves, we can identify exactly where the negative and positive sentiment comes from. Is it the media or fans (i.e. the Twitter audience of the teams) that have a harsher view of the Jets and Giants?
Separating sentiment out along those lines revealed the differences to be quite pronounced, reinforcing the idea that New York teams are held to a higher standard in the media than they might otherwise deserve.
Among Jets fans on Twitter, sentiment was well above Gang Green’s overall sentiment score, as Twitter delivered a +36 average sentiment score as compared to just +14.1 from the media. During the 78 days measured, Jets fans on Twitter were positive about the team during 70 days, while the media was positive just 57 days.
Jets fans’ range of emotion, however, was much more volatile than that of the media, as fans sentiment range was +/- 110 compared to the media’s +/- 103. An impassioned fan base will do that.
It was the reaction to the Giants season, during which a preseason NFC favorite dropped six games to start the year, where the stark difference between the media and fans was readily apparent.
Distribution of the media’s perception of the Giants was almost equally positive and negative over the 78 days measured, as the media delivered a +0.2 averaged sentiment score compared to the fans’ +30.7. And just as in the Jets’ case, Giants fans were positive on more days than the media — 62 days to 47.
Though the results point to a harsher media environment for New York teams, it does not, as often assumed, point to a New York-based media scrutiny lens. Instead, it is the coverage of teams from New York, no matter the location of the source, which turns the heat up.