June 8, 2015: The Anatomy of a Record Breaking Day

This blog set a personal record for views yesterday: 1,388!

I don’t normally write about Dear Sports Fan or its stats. In fact, it feels a little self-serving to do so, but in the spirit of enthusiasm and transparency, I want to invite you all to join me on the inside of this record breaking day.

1,388 is around 400 more than the previous record set on February 1, 2015, during this year’s Super Bowl. The first thing I wondered about was, “Why yesterday?” Yesterday was a good day for sports in general. The United States Women’s National Soccer Team played its first game of the 2015 World Cup, the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Finals had its third game of a possible seven, there were eight Major League Baseball games, and three college baseball Super Regional games, two of which went into overtime. Still, when it comes to great sports days, it’s hard to argue that yesterday was better than this past Saturday which featured the first day of the Women’s World Cup, the UEFA Champions League finals, the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Belmont Stakes which produced the first triple crown winner in horse racing since 1978. So why did Dear Sports Fan get more than twice the number of hits yesterday than it did Saturday?

One reason might be that I’ve been focused on June 8 for a long time now. I’m a big fan of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team and I also think they are a great team for casual or non-sports fans to get behind. (Quick aside. I chose yesterday’s game to use for the first ever Dear Sports Fan Viewing Parties Meetup and it was great. If you live in the Boston area, join us!) As I wrote yesterday, if national sports teams are supposed to say something about the country they represent, then the women’s national soccer team is the most positive and most accurate representation of the United States. Over the past month, I’ve written and published profiles of all 23 of the women on the team. I had been pleased with the response as I published them and I was even more pleased yesterday to see how people used them before, during, and after the game. In total, the 23 profiles were viewed 230 times. If you’re curious about which player received the most curiosity, here are the stats:

Another reason for the great statistics might be the excitement of the Stanley Cup Finals. Game Three in a good series, which this one is, should always be more exciting than Games One and Two. Sure enough, the real work-horses of the day were not the soccer posts, they were hockey posts. Hockey was the number one sport people used Dear Sports Fan to learn about yesterday, with a whopping 594 views. The three leading posts which accounted for over 95% of the hockey views were:

All three of those posts are relatively technical questions. If filed in a Hockey 101, 201, or 301 course, each would fit in a 200 or 300 level course, definitely not 100 level. This is great news, because it suggests that either people who don’t normally watch sports are still curious about pretty technical topics or that sports fans themselves sometimes get confused and need a reminder of how things work. Or both!

If you split everything Dear Sports Fan does between “Understanding” posts meant to explain how sports work and “Following” posts which help the casual or non-fan know what’s going on in sports at the moment, 74% of the views yesterday were in the Understanding category and 22% were Following posts. I’m still looking for ways to make the Following content more useful and attractive but this is probably around the right ratio for Dear Sports Fan as it grows. If you have ideas about what you’d like to read or listen to every day, let me know.

Although it sometimes seems like sports is an all-year, all-the-time avocation, sports do have seasons. Ice hockey, basketball, and soccer will all be wrapping up in the next few weeks and football season doesn’t start until late-August/early-September. That’s a lot of my content! Summer is going to be a real fallow season unless I concentrate on writing more about baseball. Here’s the by sport breakdown from yesterday:

  • Hockey – 42.80%
  • Soccer – 26.95%
  • Baseball – 8.57%
  • Basketball – 6.56%
  • General – 3.60%
  • Volleyball – 3.39%
  • Football – 1.87%
  • Other Sports – 0.72%
  • Tennis – 0.50%

It’s amazing how low football gets in the offseason considering how it dominates my stats when it’s in season.

Perhaps my favorite lesson from yesterday is that the long tail works. A notion popularized in 2008 by author Chris Anderson in his book, The Long Tail, the idea is that technology has made it easier than ever to sell a wider array of things at smaller quantities. In the context of a blog, the long tail is hard work. Four years of work on Dear Sports Fan and almost nine months of writing around three posts every day means that I am starting to accrue a large backlog of content. During yesterday’s record setting day, these posts contributed materially to the stats, even if each one of them was only viewed a little. There were 105 posts that received five or fewer views yesterday. These posts accounted for 188 views or 14% of the total. There were 67 posts that were viewed just once yesterday! This is thrilling because it’s a clear measure of how the daily grind contributes to the whole.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing Dear Sports Fan. This is a thrilling, albeit sometimes creaky roller-coaster ride to be on, and it’s great to know that I have wonderful people on it with me!
Ezra Fischer