Geography, belonging and GIS

I am not enthusiastic about the day-to-day gameplay of most sports but I am fascinated by the economics and sociology of sport and so I was delighted to see a blog that I like–strange maps ( post the following picture of what is apparently a Nike
store display map.



Without getting too serious about this or attempting to dispute actual boundaries (for that, see the strangemaps blog discussion) I find the map interesting for a few reasons:

  • Geographic Data Gathering: It is interesting to compare the ways in which this map resembles–and differs from–the wonderful attempt by Michael Baldwin to use individual level data to make similar maps in his CommonCensus Sports Project.  It’s also interesting to see how it compares with the MLB Blackout map on the GIS Pilot Blog (which is itself worth a visit).  What is unclear is the source from which Nike and MLB derive their data (I haven’t done a point for point comparison).  CommonCensus certainly has found an innovative and low-cost method for gaining the info (and there are probably better-funded successors out there of which I am not aware).   Nice to see that one guy with a website can single-handedly (with the help of a lot of interested people) produce such a wealth of information.  As long as the net continues to function this seems the way we’re all heading.
  • Affiliation and Loyalty in Virtual Networks: It occurs to me that sports fan communities share a lot of the characteristics of more recent virtual networks, particularly from the perspective of membership.  As in Second Life or Facebook, sports fandom (or any other fandom) is easy to join, episodic and, usually (except perhaps for playoff races and big games) allows for low-intensity participation and ease of exit.  I haven’t thought enough about this, but it seems that being part of one of the virtual networks is a lot like going to a ball game or going to a bar to watch a game.  There may be some close friendship networks (going to the game or bar with a few close friends) but for the most part the interactions are fairly anonymous and place relatively low demands on the participant without a lot of reciprocal obligation.   I’m sure somebody out there has done great work on sports fandom and citizenship, and it would be great to see if any of that work translates across to electronic networks.

My typing here, however, is getting ahead of my thinking.  And at a certain level I post this here just because I like the maps (and because I like seeing three similar maps each probably derived from different data sources).

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