Seahawks fandom: The #12thMan treasure hunt
by Jon Sayer
Since the Seahawks beat the 49ers on January 19th, team spirit has gone wild. "I'm in" signs taped to every window. "12" banners flapping from every flagpole. Social media accounts flooded with #12thman and #seahawks hashtags.
Like many strange, mysterious phenomena (radiation, ghosts, rain), this burst of fan support is not uniform. Some neighborhoods seem more passionate than others. Thankfully, this fan fervor can be measured. So, we set out to see which parts of the region love the home team most.
Our (admittedly unscientific) method
(If you don't care about this part, feel free to scroll down to the maps.)
Every time someone tweets with a GPS-enabled smartphone, they have the option to send their latitude and longitude along with those 140 characters. Once posted, this positional data is available not just to the NSA, but also to app makers who can locate those tweets on a map, sorting them by keyword, hashtag or user. Inquiring minds like ours can then use this information to track tweets using the #seahawks hashtag.
Of course, not all Seahawks fans tweet, and many tweets are not geo-located. The imperfections of free online tweet-mapping tools only add to our problem: We can't compare the Seahawks' twitter buzz (by location) before and after their NFC championship win. However, we can hypothesize that the number of geolocated tweets in an area is representative of larger trends in Twitter activity.
Our first few maps are from TweetMap Alpha, a Harvard-MIT data mapping collaboration that captured tweets between December 2nd & 26th. Every blue dot is a geolocated tweet that used the #seahawks hashtag. Back in December, the bandwagon still had a few seats left, so this map doesn't reflect the fervor of the last few weeks. Still, it does provide a good picture of where the true Seahawks fans reside — or at least where they tweet from.
No surprises here: Seahawks tweets are focused in places where there are a lot of people. Trees and scrublands do not fans make.
Zooming in on Puget Sound, some details emerge. The Seahawks were on the minds of Twitter users across the region in December. The airport? Solid blue. Perhaps it was all those out-of-towners arriving to watch their teams lose to the Hawks. (Unless they were from Arizona…).
The more we zoom in, the more the real nuances come out. Belltown, Downtown and Pioneer Square are the clear winners here, although fans on Capitol Hill, Lower Queen Anne, Northgate and downtown Bellevue did their share of tweeting. Even the Rainier Valley has a foot in the game. One thing is clear: Magnolia is not a team player.
The rest of our maps come from Bing Twitter Maps. This system only shows a sample of tweets (about 50-75) within the map. The data comes from the days surrounding the Seahawks’ big win over the 49ers. This map captures the parts of various neighborhoods that demonstrated the most #Seahawks enthusiasm.
We expected a lot of tweet action around CenturyLink Field (the pin on the stadium expands to 8 tweets, and that's just a sample). But the surprise here is that the volume of tweeting along Fourth and Fifth avenues. Those workers in downtown skyscrapers really do love their Seahawks, and they tweet about it — only during official breaks from work, of course. Overall, there were more than 22,000 tweets about the Seahawks within this downtown area, more than in any other neighborhood.
Uptown, Belltown, South Lake Union
If you’re looking for a place to celebrate the home team, don’t waste your time among the trendy food trucks of South Lake Union or the green lawns of Seattle Center. Go to Third and Battery in Belltown.
Capitol Hill, Madison Valley, Madrona
This map shows one of the wider disparities of tweets in the entire county. Compared to the hubbub in the Pike/Pine and Broadway corridors, it looks like not a soul east of 23rd Avenue cares about the Seahawks (at least enough to tweet about them).
Central District and Seattle University
The Seahawks are not getting the tweet love from the people of the Central District. But who can compete with all those smartphone-wielding students at Seattle U.
Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, Columbia City
Bars on Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Rainier Ave S. might be hopping, tweetwise. But they can't compete with the interstate. I do hope those are passengers tweeting on I-5.
South Southeast Seattle
Meet the South Seattle superfan. It’s hard to tell from the screenshot, but most of the tweets on this map are from one Twitter user. What looks like a thick-lined pin north of S. Myrtle Place ? That's a massive pile of tweets — from one superfan.
Southern West Seattle
These tweets seem scattered about residential streets, suggesting fans in West Seattle and White Center stayed home to watch the NFC championship game.
Northern West Seattle
It was hard framing this map in a way that didn't also bring in downtown, which would have drowned out West Seattle's native tweets, which were few. The sample suggests that residents of West Seattle's northern half seem to tweet from California Ave.
Fremont and Seattle Pacific
Fremont’s “weird” core and tech hub seem pretty indifferent to the Seahawks compared to the students across the Ship Canal at SPU. Although denizens of Fremont's bar scene will note that Seahawk stronghold The Dock (34th and Woodland Park) seems to be holding its own.
No surprises here. Seahawks tweets cluster in the new apartment blocks along Market and in the bars of old Ballard.
Looks like college students stayed home to watch the game, hanging in their dorms and Greek Row fraternities rather than going out to the bars and restaurants along the Ave. Whoever hosted that party on NE 47th Street and Ninth Avenue NE should be proud. That bunch out-tweeted an entire Terry Hall full of freshmen.
Skyway and Renton
The distribution of Seahawks' tweets at the south end of the lake is like this area’s urban planning: no center.
If you ever find yourself in Bellevue, looking for a little #12thMan pride, head downtown, find a restaurant and sit in the bar.
What’s going on, Microsoft? Are you so busy making Bing Maps that you can’t show the Hawks some online love? Is the Windows Phone Twitter app that hard to use? Or are you just too professional to tweet at work?