How about that [local sport team]?

Some of the most interesting insights come from comparing two related, yet very different segments of individuals. We do it all the time for clients, and since we value philanthropy here at Communispace, I took it upon myself this weekend to extend our gift of analytical insight to the greater world beyond.

You see, as a New York transplant living in Boston, I act as the bridge between two conflicted factions- Giants fans and Patriots fans. In a sort of 21st century update of FernGully that isn’t titled ‘Avatar’, I sit as an intermediary caught between two worlds. This gives me access to a rich sample of New Yorkers and New Englanders through my social network connections. During the Super Bowl, I decided to put my expert community facilitation skills to good use.

Notable themes that emerged from the community:

Members are divided in their opinions of the team quarterbacks. Some feel Tom Brady has feminine tendencies, while others strongly link insults to Eli Manning’s family.

  • “Good thing Tom Brady decided to endorse Uggs and not Maybelline- his tears after this game would have ruined his mascara.” -Giants fan, Hilarious Heckler, Hoboken, NJ
  • “It was Groundhog Day the other day. Confident in a Pats victory because Eli Manning saw his brother’s shadow.” -Patriots Fan, Low Blow Deliverer, Brookline, MA

Both segments deem the other as obnoxious fans, but may have potential to unite against a common enemy.

  • “Giants fans are pretty bad, but I’d still take them over Jets fans.” -Patriots Fan, Jets Hater, Boston, MA
  • “While the Patriots are more evil than Team Iceland in Mighty Ducks 2, at least I didn’t have to spend the last two weeks watching Rex Ryan press conferences.” -Giants fan, Nostalgic Simile Maker, Port Washington, NY

Ron Gronkowski’s ankle was a key focus for all.

  • “AIM FOR THE ANKLE. AIM FOR THE ANKLE!” -Giants Fan, True Sportsman, Queens, NY
  • “Gronk’s ankle looks ok. Looks like I’ll have to explain to my future wife why we shouldn’t get too attached to our firstborn.” -Patriots Fan, Correct Priority Setter, Brighton, MA

Members from both sides had questions about the halftime show:

  • “Oh wait, the halftime show started? I thought somebody put on the scene in ‘300′ when the Persians arrive.” -Giants Fan, Not a Madonna Fan, White Plains, NY
  • “Is that Will Ferrell bouncing on that tightrope?” -Patriots Fan, Wishful Thinker, Somerville, MA

In the end, some very deep life observations rose from amongst the football chatter:

  • Kevin Gilbride looks like a heavier, mustached Anderson Cooper.” -Patriots Fan, Astute Observer, Cambridge, MA
  • “Super Bowl? With Tom Brady playing, more like HANDSOME BOWL. I’ll join a fantasy league with him as my QB anyday.” -Brady fan, Gisele’s Competition, Cambridge, MA
  • “Go Bills 2013!” -Buffalo Bills fan, Misguided Soul, Amherst, NY

What did my exercise ultimately demonstrate? While events- and brands- are national, even global in these times, all things ultimately still remain local. One capability that community research allows for is to hear how different groups view and celebrate the same experiences together and then simultaneously compare, in this case, across regions. Watching them congregate as a shared community adds an additional layer of interest.

In this case, the shared experience of supporting their favorite team encouraged members of the community to be more open with their comments. Online, they could be free with their comments since they were being read amongst friends. Even those living in enemy territory, such as myself, could be more open. At the Super Bowl party I attended, one lone Giants fan in the room confided his team loyalties to me afterwards upon learning I was from New York. We had both been chattering and trash-talking away during the party … online. He said, “I really wanted to let it all out and cheer, but there just wasn’t enough of our kind there to be open about it.” It’s true. It would have been a dangerous move. But the good news is you can always find your community online.