In an introductory undergraduate media course, Super Bowl XLIX was used as a hands-on vehicle to introduce students to the discipline of mass-media research. From a week before and after Super Bowl XLIX, 269 original blog posts and 91 sets of appended comments from Web sites devoted to the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots were analyzed for significant differences using Diction 7.0, a common word-counting program that measures tone in dozens of ways. More than a dozen variations found in the blog messages are used to describe a “team tone” unique to Seahawks blogs and another unique to Patriots blogs. Some elements of these team tones are present across all messages, while others existed only before the game was played or arose only after New England’s dramatic win in the closing moments. Postgame variations include greater optimism in the tone of New England Patriots bloggers and greater hardship and denial in the tone of Seattle Seahawks bloggers. Results are discussed from the perspective of social-identity theory.
The author is with the Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.