I have some bad news, friends.
You and I will have to endure this entire week, and many more to come, without a single World Cup game to look forward to. As our productivity buzzes back up to normal levels while our morale spirals downward, let’s talk about some of the unexpected winners from this World Cup (besides Mario Goetze, who I doubt will ever have to buy himself a drink at a German bar ever again).
For an app that didn’t even make it into Bateman Group’s list of favorite social platforms, Tinder sure has done well for itself in Brazil. Imagine the legends of Tinder in the Olympic Village, but instead of a few hundred sober athletes in a frigid mountain village, it’s hundreds of thousands of drunk people in one of the most legendary party-loving countries in the world. This appears to have been the case, as Quartz reported that Tinder’s activity rose by 50% in Brazil during the World Cup, and Brazil was already the fourth biggest market for the app.
This should come as no surprise, as Tinder bases initial interactions on purely aesthetic terms. This makes it the perfect app for a country renowned for beauty, and apparently, obsessed with it: Brazil trails only the United States in number of plastic surgeons and cosmetic procedures per year, according to a 2011 report by The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
But while the lucky few were traveling to Brazil and swiping right, the rest of us had to settle for Twitter, which, despite sounding similar to Tinder, is admittedly less amusing. The World Cup blew up on Twitter: the social network had its sports records shattered during Germany’s demolition of Brazil, with 35.6 million tweets, far more than the 2014 Super Bowl’s 24.9 million. (Sidenote: both of those games involved a well-organized, well-prepared team totally dominating their opponent. Both winning teams were my teams. Coincidence? I think not. Sports franchise GMs, don’t bother reaching out, my fandom is not for sale.)
Part of the reason for the Twitter explosion during the World Cup is that it captured the attention of extremely visible, typically sports-apathetic individuals on Twitter. Everyone from space-pop princess Grimes to venerable UCLA data-guru/geneticist Leonid Kruglyak to twerk-army general Diplo got into the game. And when the people whose (digital) voices are loudest are talking about a subject, the rest of us will take notice.
The 140-character uproar was only part of the fun. For a sport known for being notoriously unquantifiable, media outfits like The New York Times and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight put together some incredible data visualizations that show in objective detail how great the World Cup really was. FiveThirtyEight’s by-the-numbers breakdown of Leo Messi, who faced off against Germany for Argentina in yesterday’s final game, showed how mind-blowingly better he is at the game than pretty much anyone else on Earth. The article, “Lionel Messi is Impossible,” (a fitting title), came up with countless metrics that most soccer fans had never even considered and crunched an absurd amount of data on every player who has suited up for a professional game since the last World Cup. Any way they sliced it, Messi came out on top. And for those whose teams were eliminated early and had to pick a new team to root for, The New York Times analyzed data from Facebook to determine which countries followed which teams once their own were eliminated. Some interesting, yet unsurprising trends emerged; besides the expected continental camaraderie, fans tend to root most often for countries that speak their same language or were playing against the teams that beat the fans home team.
There really is no other event like the World Cup, as even the rabid attention spent determining which country will host each tournament can attest. Brazil made a fair amount of headlines in the leadup to the tournament due to the controversial construction policies around their newly-built stadiums. The political repercussions of which still have years to play out. This World Cup had many winners and losers, but one of my favorite Twitter profiles, the usually nonsensical and hilariously satirical USA Soccer Guy, put it best: “Today is a day when every soccer fan should realize that as a world, we are all champions.”