It's only the cover of a video game.
The cover of a video game that generated more than 10 million votes worldwide.
EA Sports' "NHL 15" video game has done a decent job of selling itself with the cover vote process that began in the spring. In the final voting that ended on June 1, Patrice Bergeron received a shade over 60 percent of the roughly 5 million votes cast on Twitter. The rest of the voting between Bergeron and Montreal's P.K. Subban came via the EA Sports "NHL 15" Instagram feed and through its website.
"Being featured on the cover of 'NHL 15' is a dream come true," Bergeron said. "The fact that the cover is selected entirely by fans is an incredible feeling. The passion and support from hockey fans, especially Bruins fans, is unlike any other sport and I'm so grateful to everyone who voted for me."
Bergeron picked up some real-game related hardware, winning the Selke Trophy for being the league's top forward "in the defensive aspects of the game" and the NHL Foundation Player Award.
Last week, we dispatched the online craziness that ensued once people discovered that EA Sports had a clause in the contest rules that the company reserved the right to select its own cover candidate.
There is no question that Bergeron was the people's choice when it came to people who wanted to see him win this one.
And why would EA Sports want a video game with someone who wasn't the people's choice on its cover? The conspiracy argument in this case was completely senseless.
In an analysis of the Twitter voting provided to the OBF Column by our pals at Crimson Hexagon last week, the #NHLBergeron hashtag received a total of 3,053,257 votes via Twitter. That includes a double-count of the votes cast on May 29, as set in the contest rules. Subban, meanwhile, got 2,016,975 under the same formula.
That's a lot of votes, even if it seemed at times like there were the same 10 people voting over and over again on Twitter. When I reached out to some of the folks who were engaged in this election/social media marketing campaign and asked them why they were voting, the typical response went something like this:
"I mean, it would be pretty cool. A Bruin [has] NEVER made the cover, so that's something. And besides, Who would wanna see Subban on it?!"
A few million Canadiens' fans, for sure. But we get the point.
Now, anyone over the age of 10 who participated in this "feel-good" endeavor knows that Bergeron defeating Subban in the voting for the cover of this video game means nothing when compared to the actual game played on the ice or that series lost by the Bruins in seven games.
Bread, circuses and video games.
But what does it mean? It means that hockey fans remain as passionate as ever about the sport, real or digitized. It means that Bergeron is beloved in this city, on social media and by his fans everywhere. It means that a lot of people probably have a lot of time on their hands and will be playing lots of "NHL 15" once the game becomes available on Sept. 9 on various platforms. It means that a well-coordinated social media campaign featuring popular NHL players can generate a load of traffic.
Not everything has to have some deep-inner sinister side. Sometimes a Tweet is just a Tweet. And the cover of a video game is just the cover of a video game.
There are undoubtedly plenty of athletes in Boston and elsewhere who would love the affirmation of receiving the majority when 10 million votes are cast. It must do wonders for the ego and one's marketing prowess.
The debate over which team and which player is the most popular has been going in Boston since Milt Schmidt won a Stanley Cup in the same year Ted Williams hit .406.
Is there any other athlete in Greater Boston in 2014 who could receive such support in any similar contest as Bergeron did here?
Well, Tom Brady could get 10 million votes just for breathing.
Dustin Pedroia may never hit another home run or hit over .275 this season, but he's become the baseball definition of "scrappy" - always a popular notion with the folks.
But anyone else?
David Ortiz? Maybe last October. But right now, he's too busy apologizing to scorekeepers and trying to crack the .260 barrier.
Gronk? Depends on which porn star he happens to be posing with.
Anyone on the Celtics not named Kevin Love? Nope.
Every player on the Revolution combined? Only if they're paired with Gronk.
One of the "You Must Love Soccer" arguments that has been a constant since the good old days of global cooling and the metric system has been that the sport's popularity makes its greatness self-evident.
Soccer has done well selling itself since the start of the World Cup. Sunday's Portugal-USA game was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.
The World Cup has become the biggest event in the history of social media. On Facebook, 10 million people had 20 million interactions during the U.S.-Portugal match. Twitter said there were 8 million tweets about the match while it was happening. The first week of the World Cup generated 459 million posts, likes and comments on Facebook. Compare that to 185 million interactions about the Super Bowl, according to CNN.
Using on-line and social media popularity as a barometer, the "NHL 15" video game might be even more relevant than the actual "NHL 2014-15" regular season.
Ten million votes for the cover of a video game.
And a player from the Bruins won.
It means nothing and everything at the same.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
Obnoxious Boston Fan Email Address. Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.
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