Work doesn't matter today. Every second that passes is just one less moment standing between you and an actual, real-life NFL Sunday. It's been more than seven long, hard months since we last saw the Patriots and Seahawks play in Super Bowl XLIX; but we made it, and now it's time to fire up those grills, crack those beers, and replenish those daily fantasy league accounts. Football is officially back!
And apparently Miami Dolphins fans are more excited than almost anyone else about their team once again taking the field.
Facebook has compiled posts and comments from more than 49 million users who like an official NFL team page to determine the pulse of each team's fans heading into the return of NFL football. They gauged those fans’ comments, classified them based on how positive or negative they were for their given team, and then ranked teams based on the results.
The findings paint a definitely positive vibe emanating from the Dolphins fan base. In fact, Dolphins fans are the second-most optimistic fans in the whole NFL heading into the 2015 season. So it's confirmed: it's not just you. Most everyone feels pretty damn good about this Dolphins 2015 squad.
Only Kansas City Chiefs fans were spinning things in a more positive direction this offseason than Miami, a result possibly related to the team being undefeated in the preseason. Whatever the reasoning behind the statistics, it's pretty jarring to see Miami Dolphins fans this positive about a franchise that hasn't done much over the last decade-plus. It seems Dolphins fans truly believe — between the stadium renovations, the signing of Ryan Tannehill to a long-term extension, and the additions the team has made this offseason — this is the year the Dolphins return to glory.
The “Sentiment Data" Facebook used in the study is nothing new; they have been using it to gauge support in politics for years, starting with the 2012 US Presidential election. While the data has proven useful in politics, it's never been used for sports.
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“This is our first usage of this sentiment analysis in sports,” said Facebook Head of Global Sports Sponsorships Dan Reed. “It’s too early to say what sort of applications this might take going forward.”
Surprisingly, according to Facebook data, the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots fans ranked as the second-least optimistic fans in the NFL heading into their title defense season. It's unknown exactly why, but that could be a result of a combination of free agency departures, and Tom Brady's legal troubles — or it could just be entirely related to the fact that New Englanders love being miserable.
The numbers used in the study were are enormous in size — some of the largest ever complied in regards to fan measurement in sports. Facebook says a study like this is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to fan data; they'd also like to better gauge fans interest in things inside the game, such as Super Bowl commercials.
“Facebook is the largest community of sports fans in the world,” said Dan Reed “You can measure sentiment with a large degree of accuracy.”