Home
Help

Year in Review: 1997

Vote

Re-rank the list of top sports stories of 1997

Background

Find out more about:

Tiger Woods takes
golf world by storm

Pedro Martinez signs
record deal with Sox

Latrell Sprewell
assaults coach, gets ax

Rick Pitino becomes
Celtics coach, president

Bill Parcells quits after Patriots' banner year

Martina Hingis
rules women's tennis

Florida Marlins win World Series

Women's pro hoop
meets with success

A Patriots surprise:
Super Bowl XXXI berth

Wil Cordero charged
with assaulting wife


Click here for a table of contents and a list of special online features

Search/Archives

Search the Globe:

Today
Yesterday


Sections Boston Globe Online: Page One Nation | World Metro | Region Business Sports Living | Arts Editorials Columnists Calendar Discussion Forums Classifieds Latest news Extranet Archives

Low-graphics version

The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com

Check out the top news stories of 1997

Super Bowl fans take frenzy to Cyberspace

By David Armstrong, Globe Staff, 01/17/97

The Patriots and Packers may not do battle for another nine days, but their fans are taking to the Internet in record numbers to exchange unpleasantries and scoop up information on the enemy.

So many digital Wisconsin cheeseheads and New England chowderheads are logging on to the official New England Patriots site on the Internet that a team of five technicians and developers is working 18 hours a day to add new features and update computer hardware to handle the crush of additional users.

``This is just phenomenal,'' said Andrew Yu, a vice president at Online Environs Inc., the Cambridge company that designed and now maintains the Patriots World Wide Web site. ``This has been a very, very hectic week for us.''

The story is the same in Wisconsin, where the Packer Plus Online site estimates it will record 6 million visits by the end of the week, an amount on par with the most popular sites on the Internet.

``We are getting a huge amount of traffic,'' said Dan Patrinos, the senior editor for electronic services at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online. ``We have received e-mail from every state in the union plus 40 to 50 foreign countries.''

The success has not been without problems, however. Some web sites have crashed, while others have been slowed by the crush of users.

Even so, the Internet has provided a common meeting area for pre-Super Bowl hype, talk and information.

Fans of each team have taken to invading enemy web sites and leaving electronic mail messages belittling their opponent. The messages are posted in public discussion areas where on-line fans trade thoughts, comments and barbs.

Parents be warned: Many of the messages, if read aloud, sound a lot like drunken, expletive-filled boasts at stadium tailgate parties. Some, like the following message written in capital letters for emphasis and sent to the Patriots web site by a Green Bay fan, get to the point cleanly:

``GET READY TO GET SNUFFED OUT ALL OF YOU PATSIE FANS. THE SECOND COMING OF GB IS HERE AND A PLAGUE WILL STRIKE YOUR TEAM IN THE FORM OF GREAT OFFENSE AND DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS. YOUR ALL HAPPY TO BE GOING TO THE BIG GAME BUT IN YOUR HEARTS YOU KNOW THAT 86 WILL LOOK LIKE A DREAM COMPARED TO THE BEATING YOU WILL RECEIVE ON THE 26TH.''

The Internet sites have also become old-fashioned bulletin boards, with fans posting urgent pleas for Super Bowl tickets or information on how to travel to New Orleans.

While much of the on-line activity surrounding the Super Bowl amounts to nothing more than electronic yelling, the Internet has become serious business for the sporting world.

The National Football League, in conjunction with IBM and Fox Television, has a team of 35 people working on the league's official Super Bowl site on the Internet.

``As a fan development tool, the Internet represents an opportunity for the NFL,'' said Ann Kirschner, the vice president of NFL Interactive. ``It is a huge, huge hit.''

Next week, Internet users will be able to chat with NFL stars and listen in live to press conferences.

The NFL is also carefully meshing its Internet content with the television broadcast of the game. For instance, an on-line fan poll of the best Super Bowl player of all time will be highlighted on Fox Television at half-time and the results will be announced by the network after the game.

The Patriots Super Bowl run has also provided an incredible boost for several local World Wide Web sites.

The official Patriots home page is experiencing as much as 90,000 hits an hour. And Boston.Com, the home of the Boston Globe Online and a special Super Bowl section, experienced a record high of 2.5 million hits Monday.

Scott Kirsner, who is overseeing Boston.Com's Super Bowl site, said the increase in users coincided with the Patriots playoff success.

``It is people wanting to get the latest news or knowing what Parcells has said lately,'' Kirsner said. ``At this point, the football freaks are looking for any scrap of information and the web is a really good tool for doling out lots of information.''

The increase in traffic has also resulted in increased advertising on many web sites. Yesterday, for instance, a travel agency negotiated a deal with the Patriots web site, allowing fans to get more information on the agency's Super Bowl tour packages.

``The phone is ringing off the hook with companies who want to have a presence on our site,'' said Yu, who maintains the Patriots official Internet site.


Click here for advertiser information

Boston Globe Extranet
Extending our newspaper services to the web
© Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company

Return to the home page
of The Globe Online

NewsWorks
New Century Network
Affiliate