Calgarypuck, the Media and Polling

July 16th, 2010 | Posted in Commentary | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Internet polling, results and how they fit in with they non-cyber world … topics that have always caused great debate on

Rabid hockey fans that flock to an online source to hash out every minute detail of a hockey club… are they more in tune? better fans? Indicative of society (Calgary) as a whole? Or homers wearing red and gold goggles, so unable to see fault with their hockey club that they can’t help but bend towards the positive?

Recently was afforded a great opportunity to hopefully come up with answers to some of these questions; or perhaps not.

Having read a post on the site devouring the ups, downs and dollars of the Flames free agent moves on July 1st Ivrnet President David Snell was intrigued with the web poll results given his company’s experience with running outgoing telephone polls in the city for politicians and the like.

How would an outgoing telephone poll differ or match a rabid hockey website’s membership?

David approached me, and with the help of his crack staff we cranked out a recorded phone message of yours truly that was set to beam into 1000’s of Calgarian’s homes.

“We felt that with the passion Calgary shows for hockey it should be easy to get enough random responses to give a valid view of the city’s mood, and we were right. Over four hundred responses in a few hours gave us the data we needed”, offered Snell.

The recorded message asked for numeric responses to three questions for those that answered their phones. The first was an exact duplicate of the web poll, where voters had to choose from liking both the Tanguay and Jokinen moves, Tanguay but not Jokinen, Jokinen but not Tanguay, and finally neither.

A second question asked if the voter felt the media accurately reflected their views, an issue raised in another Calgarypuck post due to the negativity surrounding July 1st.

And finally a great tie in question to help differentiate the level of interest each call recipient had in hockey for purposes of comparing the results to the web site.

The results? Not the slam dunk many were thinking; that is Calgarypuck is a good measuring stick for the city.

The Avid hockey fan in the phone poll was a lot more like the average Calgarypuck voter, but not to the same extent. They were positive about the moves, but no where near as positive as the Calgarypuck bunch.

As the level of hockey aficionado diminished for telephone respondents the results to the July 1st signings continued further and further to the negative.

These comparisons leave us with a few nuggets of information to chew on.

Are Calgarypuck respondents more educated than the average phone fan that calls themselves “avid”? Or are they just bigger homers and therefore truly representative of the web term “fan site” ..

A fansite or fan site is a website created and maintained by the fans or devotees of a particular cultural phenomenon. The phenomenon can be a book, a television show, movie, comic, person, or any number of alternative items.

Since the telephone person refers to themselves as avid, are they not fitting in the same category?

I would suggest that a hockey fan that takes time to dig deep into issues on a web site several times a week (who are we kidding … every day) probably has a deeper understanding of the side issues of a signing, and not just goals and assists.

Another question when considering the negativity increase with the level of interest diminishing … does this not show how the media in the city gave people their opinion? They are essentially coming out and admitting that they don’t really care about hockey or the Flames, but the moves on July 1st were terrible. If they don’t care I doubt they’re looking into it all that carefully, so yeah, I think the media plays a role.

Finally, the ability of the media to speak for the hockey fan seems to be universally in question, suggesting that there is a level of distrust in coverage. A good argument could be made, however, that media in general in North America in the last ten years has created this phenomenon, and certainly not sports media, or Calgary sports media to dig down deeper.

“They seemed to decide what the mood of the city was off of a very small and potentially skewed sample. In fact, I may even go so far as to even say that to avoid making the same mistake the media has been accused of here is the raw data and invite people to make their own conclusions”, said David Snell

So all in all, not a lot was solved if I’m honest. If anything more questions were raised, but then when you’re running a “fan site” nothing wrong with posing impossible to answer questions, right? The hit tolls will just continue to rack up. And so will the temperature emanating from the server room at Ivrnet.

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