Boston Hockey Twitter: Not As Racist As Made Out To Be

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After Montreal's P.K. Subban scored to beat Boston in game one of their series, there were two inescapable talking points: That the word "nigger" was trending in Boston (this was quickly debunked) and there had been 17,000 tweets containing the slur and Subban's name. Would it change your impression if you found out the actual number of racist tweets was closer to 288?

That's the finding of Crimson Hexagon, an analytics firm which processed all the tweets within 24 hours of Subban's goal. With all the caveats that these analyses are necessarily simplistic, incomplete, and otherwise flawed (and acknowledging that this is a Boston-based firm declaring "not racist" in direct response to a Canada-based firm which announced the 17,000 figure), here are the high points of the data sifted (via

  • Within 24 hours of Subban's goal, there were 2,617 tweets containing Subban's name and a variation of the n-word.
  • Of those 2,617, 77 percent were manual retweets commenting on all the tweets, or the day-after written reactions and roundups.
  • Further suggesting that most of the tweets were second-wave observers, the rate of tweets containing Subban and a racial slur was 8.5 times higher in Canada than it was in the U.S.
  • Of the 2,617 tweets, 11 percent were categorized as "derogative" toward Subban. That amounts to 288 people actually calling Subban a "nigger" in anger or hate.

If that's even close to accurate, that's a hell of a lot fewer than when this happened with Joel Ward in 2012—at least anecdotally, since I compiled one of those Twitter-asshole roundups. I mused on this with the Subban controversy, but maybe there's value in instant and public shaming of sour-grapes sports racist. Maybe folks are learning the tweet isn't worth the vigilante backlash.