In the fast-paced world of sport, news flows quickly and rumours, scores, and quotes are reported by the minute. While many still wait to hear their news on SportsCenter or check the box scores in the morning, most journalists and a large number of fans are tuned to social media every hour of the day. Baseball news moves as quickly and, perhaps, more thoroughly than any other sport, and organisations that are aware of this through a constant and cohesive social media presence have the advantage. Our resident social media specialist, Gabriel, has completed an exhaustive study of social media for all continental baseball federations and their constituent national federations (NFs). This study does not take into account national leagues, which operate on longer schedules and, therefore, have more content and results to feature.
The conclusions are surprising, for it is quite clearly the Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) and its NFs who have not only the most web presence, but also the highest quality. It is more shocking, though, that the Americas (Pan American Baseball Confederation, COPABE) does not even have its own website, and all of its social media acounts were created in the last few months. Furthermore, Europe is the continent to offer live statistics or play-by-play on its website.
Asia (Baseball Federation of Asia) is well-organised, but has virtually no news or statistics available. Oceania (Baseball Federation of Oceania, BFO) offers very out-of-date, or at best, infrequent information. Africa (African Baseball and Softball Association, ABSA) offers only an occasionally used Facebook page, but shockingly, it is COPABE that is, by far, the least connected. The only information available online is an old email address.
To conclude, continental federations are surprisingly poorly connected to social media and the web. Only three even have websites: Asia, Europe, and Oceania, the latter of which is not often used. Europe is the sole federation that makes frequent use of its site, though it generally only posts articles noting major decisions and events and does not offer much in the way of coverage for its constituent national teams. It is the only site, though, that offers live play-by-play statistics for each of its tournaments, including those at the youth level, along with box scores and daily reports from events. Live video is often available as well. No other sites offer any of the above.
The news is worse when it comes to social media. Only two have Twitter (Europe and Americas) and only COPABE offers Instagram. Each continent does at least use Facebook, though it is once again only Europe that makes full use of the platform. Even when one factors in that COPABE’s most organised member, USA Baseball, is likely to consider COPABE itself as a peripheral factor, it is still astonishing that no central Spanish-language website exists for baseball in the Americas and that its social media was only recently added.
A note on the federations themselves. Europe has the most members with 40, though one of those, Armenia, appears to be defunct. COPABE is second with 29, while Asia has 23, though this includes Uzbekistan, for which no information is available. Africa has 19 registered countries, but nine have no presence on the web and only four appear to be especially active (South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana). BCO features 14 countries, for which seven have no web presence and a further one (Papua New Guinea) that may not exist. In total, 125 federations exist. In most small-to-midsize nations and those outside of North America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, national federations and national teams are synonymous. The higher up the world rankings one goes, the more likely the two are separate.
The story is quite different within those federations, however. Europe leads in overall web and social media accounts, with 2.45 accounts per national federation (NF). It is COPABE, however, that is a close second, with either 2.41 per NF (if sites for those country’s leagues are not included the number drops to 2.07). Asia (1.74), Oceania (1.07), and Africa (0.89) are well behind. It is worth noting that Asia includes two countries where social media is officially banned: China and North Korea.
Some federations are more prone to a certain platform. European NFs virtually all have their own website (87.5%). Those that don’t are less surprising: Cyprus, Georgia, Moldova, and Portugal. It is unclear whether Cyprus even has a federation, though it is listed by the WBSC. Georgia has, at least, a U23 and an adult team.
Asia (65.2%) and the Americas (62%, though almost half are for the country’s league(s)) can usually be found on the web. The only surprises among those two continents are the Philippines, along with Argentina, Aruba, and Curaçao. The Philippines have played in the World Baseball Classic and has its own league. Argentina is a rising country, while the two Caribbean islands are well-known for their big leaguers.
Oceania (21.4%) and Africa (21.1%) have few NFs online, though it is perhaps more surprising that the Solomon Islands, Lesotho, and Zambia do have websites than how few do not. In total, exactly 60 percent of national federations have a website.
Facebook is, by far, the most-used social media platform, as one would expect. COPABE countries (93.1%/86.2%) and Europe (85%) are well-represented, though it is a surprise that the Curaçao and the Dominican Republic do not have a page for their national team. Asia (73.9%), Oceania (57.1%), and Africa (52.6%) are all above the halfway mark. Roughly three quarters (76.8%) of NFs have a Facebook page (groups were not counted).
Twitter proves to be, by far, the domain of the Americas and Europe. Almost two-third (65.5%) of COPABE members have an account, while Europe is surprisingly just over half (52.5%). Asia (26.1%), Africa (15.8%), and Oceania (14.3%) are well behind. Some surprising omissions are Curaçao, Thailand (No. 36), Nepal (No. 64, but with a banner year in 2017), Croatia (No. 34), Lithuania (No. 38, but rapidly on the rise), and Slovakia (No. 39). Somewhat shockingly, only 40.8% of NFs are on Twitter.
As one might imagine, with Instagram mostly popular in English- and Spanish-speaking countries, this platform has by far the fewest users, with only 18 of 125 (14.4%) of NFs using the app. COPABE and Europe each have about 20 percent of their federations on Instagram, while two of 14 Oceania members (Australia and New Zealand), two Asian countries (Japan and Indonesia), and no African countries round out the list.
The world’s highest-ranked team with fewer than all four accounts is No. 3 South Korea, which appears to have neither Twitter nor Instagram, while Nos. 4 (Chinese Taipei), 5 (Cuba), 9 (Netherlands), and 11 (Puerto Rico) round out Premier 12 countries that do not utilise Instagram. The highest-rated federation without any of the four is Guam (No. 60), though easily the most surprising is Curaçao, which does not compete in major events and is, therefore, ranked far below its calibre (No. 68). The top-rated NF with only a web address is Slovakia (No. 39, with a glut of other CEB countries in the 40s and 50s; Iran is the highest in Asia at No. 51) and the highest ranked country with only one total account is Mongolia (No. 56, Facebook).
There is clearly room for expansion, particularly among the mid-level Asian nations and the smaller European countries. Continental federations would be served by copying the European model, with regular social media posts, lots of photos, and all games with live play-by-play. In particular, the Americas and Asia, both of whom have a far longer historical presence, lag far behind their European counterparts. All continental federations could do with significantly more content regarding the achievements, players, and feature stories of the NFs within it.
Below the following statistical tables is a spreadsheet with a list of all known accounts, as well as additional non-federation websites and accounts of interest. Please contribute additional information as it becomes available, including email addresses and any accounts. Not included are email addresses for the NFs, which are available upon request, as is the Excel spreadsheet.
*Many COPABE members’ sites are for their country’s league(s); the higher number includes these.
N.B. Scotland, Sint Maarten not included.
The links to the brand new social media accounts were provided to me by Alexander Ayala after the article was published. It has been edited to reflect this new information.