Thursday, July 22, 2010

How To Calculate a "Silly Season" Rumor

How much for this guy?
Late July and early August might be the deadest time in the news year. People are taking summer vacations, spending their time outdoors, and generally not paying attention to the world around them.  Unfortunately we're all still stuck with the 24-hour news cycle and the media's desire to make news, any news, important to us in hopes of snagging readers and viewers.

That's why you'll see lots of stories about shark attacks only in August (and this "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel) or Lindsey Lohan's jailing as "breaking news".

For the soccer world and particularly the Euro-centric world this summer time is referred to as the "silly season" and it's particularly bad following a World Cup.  The silly season is defined by an echo chamber of ridiculous rumors about a certain player and a certain team and some absurd amount of money that they might pay for said player. Pretty much anyone that showed a shred of talent in South Africa is a moving target for the press and their appetite for making (as opposed to breaking) news.

In year's past the American media has been immune to the silly season because, well, few were looking through the American storefront. But in the four years since the last World Cup in Germany much has changed.

In 2006 the U.S. was coming off a disappointing Cup run and few American players were seen as attractive to Euro-sutors.  Certainly a few went across to pond to ply their trade (Dempsey, Edddie Johnson, Howard, etc), but real deals were to be found elsewhere.

With the electric performance of the 2010 U.S.squad there is plenty of interest around Europe for many American players. Some are looking to jump from stateside to Europe (Donovan) and many others are looking infinitely more attractive to larger European clubs (Bradley, Dempsey) or bigger North American clubs (Bornstein, Gomez). Even Americans that didn't make the South African journey have picked up European contracts (Kljestan).

Another important side to the silly season is that the money of clubs in Europe has gotten beyond "silly".  With the oil bucks of Manchester City in the market in 2010, as That's On Point joked, they'll be the first senior side with 100 players on their roster. There is more money to be splashed that ever before.

Lastly, the media world has grown by leaps and bounds since the previous World Cup.  The advent of Twitter and other social media, the growth of blogs and other similar publications, alongside the mainstream sports media has made the echo chamber of news, views, and rumor more "echo-y" than ever. The desire for each semi-professional soccer writer in the U.S. to make their views heard via blog post, Tweet, or online smoke signal has flooded the silly season rumor mill with more worthless opinions that ever before. 

Granted their are many intelligent online voices contemplating the weight of such transfer whispers, but most spend their time cranking out 500 words of nothing on their sites or several 140 character word vomits to their followers.

Us Americans are no longer safe from falling into the silly season trap.  We laughed while European clubs splashed crazy cash for players and speculated until blue in the face about player moves, but now we're apart of it all.

So how do we sort through all of the BS of the now-Americanized silly season? Well, we're pretty fond of statistics, so why not a formula to determine the accuracy of such rumors swirling about the Inter-Net-Blogo-Sphere?

For your consideration:
Player A X European Super Club + Ridiculous Sounding Monetary Amount X Number of News Articles, Blog Posts, Guardian Sport and The Sun Articles Written  / Amount of Rational Thought and Consideration of Said Club's Actual Needs Applied to Situation = Accuracy of Rumor

Let's see how this plays out and define our variables:
Player A is Landon Donovan
European Super Club is Manchester City
Ridiculous Sounding Monetary Amount is $15 million
Number of News Articles, etc is 650 news reports, 2,190 blog posts, 1 The Sun article and 2 Guardian Sport articles (2,743 in total)
Amount of Rational Thought and Consideration of Said Club's Actual Needs Applied to the Situation is Undefined (We're still searching for a sound voice on all this madness.)

Either way you run the numbers this whole situation is absolutely bonkers.

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- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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