Some of my friends and I decided to become last-minute soccer fans in time for the final World Cup game Sunday.
“Abby Wambach is number 20,” I told my friends in a crowded sports bar while we tapped away at our phones. “I think she’s, like, the Mia Hamm of this year’s team.”
I admit I have no idea if the Hamm reference is remotely accurate, just as I admit that I am a fairweather U.S.A. women’s soccer team fan. (But so is much of America, admit it.)
I did know a few extra facts going into the game, including that Wambach was the most talked -about player on the U.S. women’s team, all thanks to Twitter.
By now, it’s nothing new to state that Twitter is the social network that breaks news, but it is also becoming the cyberspace version of a sports bar, as Bill Goodykoontz wrote.
With every major event in the past few months, a new tweets-per-second record is set. Almost exactly a year ago, just after the buzzing of vuvuzelas had ceased in South Africa, Twitter noted that the men’s World Cup broke previous Twitter records (Spain’s winning goal in the final scored a 3,051 tweets-per-second.).
The women’s final match walloped that number; the new record suddenly became more than double that, with 7,196 tweets logged per second .
Whatever your personal take on Twitter, we can all agree on one thing: It’s loud in there. In an ironic twist, people tweeting about how they were annoyed with World Cup tweeting made up much of the din this time around. If you’ve missed out on related Twitter exchanges over the past few days, let’s use one sterling example from the media. In less-than-eloquent fashion, Slate columnist Jack Shafer tweeted that he knew where to look if he wanted soccer news. Insert another reporter, Lizzie O’Leary, telling him to lighten up (also not-so-eloquently). Add some hurt feelings and cuss words. Repeat.
In the end, America lost to Japan, and my friends and I spilled out of the bar, a little disoriented and still as confused as ever about soccer’s place in the sporting world. To be fair, we could’ve paid closer attention to the rules. Instead, we passed the time checking Twitter, comparing phone apps and taking photos. But we all had a good time watching players like Wambach take the field, our perception of them no longer limited to 140-character confines.
Maybe Twitter is like a giant sports bar. However, just like what happens whenever we end up collectively live-tweeting everything from the Super Bowl to the 2011 State of the Union address, it’s sort of fun seeing what the crowd has to say. Twitter’s loud and crowded, but it’s also democratic, and you can always exercise your right to mute the rest of us the next time we’re madly chattering about women’s soccer. Thanks to this latest record, we may even be talking about Wambach and her team well before the next 12 years are up.