For Canadian sports fans, 2018 was a year full of Olympic glory, triumph, tragedy and famous faces in new places.
For the second year in a row, Tristan Thompson (@RealTristan13) was the most-mentioned Canadian male athlete on Twitter. He drove plenty of mentions on the court (appearing in his fourth straight NBA finals) and off, celebrating the arrival of a baby girl with wife Khloé Kardashian (@khloekardashian) in early April 2018.
These were the most mentioned Canadian male athletes on Twitter in 2018
2018 was also a banner year for Canadian female athletes on Twitter, led by Canadian Olympic hero, Tessa Virtue (@tessavirtue). She was the most-mentioned Canadian female athlete on Twitter in 2018, unseating Montreal-born tennis pro, Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard). Bouchard was still the most-mentioned Canadian tennis pro in 2018, while Brooke Henderson (@BrookeHenderson) was the most-mentioned Canadian golf pro on Twitter this year.
These were the most mentioned Canadian female athletes on Twitter in 2018
Virtue and Moir (also known as #VirtueMoir on Twitter) truly owned the Canadian sports conversation in 2018. Each had more Twitter mentions this year than any individual Canadian athlete in the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball or the National Football League.
This now-iconic Tweet from John Tavares, sent hours after he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) as a free agent, also set records in 2018. It was the most-liked sports Tweet by Canadian Twitter users this year. Furthermore, of all Tweets sent globally in 2018, only two Tweets by former U.S. president Barack Obama (@BarackObama) earned more hearts from Canadian Twitter users this year than Tavares’ Tweet.
Tavares wasn’t the only big name athletes who changed addresses in 2018. Here are the five most-mentioned athletes either joining or leaving Canadian pro sports teams in the past year:
On the team side, the Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) were the most-mentioned Canadian sports team on Twitter this year, buoyed by a record-breaking regular season and some high-profile offseason transactions. This ends a three year run by the Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) as Canada’s most-mentioned team.
The Humboldt Broncos (@HumboldtBroncos) unexpectedly joined the ranks of Canada’s most-mentioned sports teams on Twitter after the tragic April 2018 bus crash that killed 14 members of the Canadian junior "A" ice hockey team.
These were the most mentioned Canadian sports teams on Twitter in 2018
2018 was also a year we saw the continued emergence of Canada’s next generation of star athletes. Amongst the names in the mix were Rj Barrett (@RjBarrett6), who made his college basketball debut for the legendary Duke Blue Devils, and teenage soccer phenom Alphonso Davies (@AlphonsoDavies) who wrapped up a successful run with MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps and will be joining the FC Bayern Munich in 2019.
Barrett and Davies have seen their Twitter followings grow by 458% and 452% respectively over the past 12 months. Look for both names to be on the rise on Twitter in 2019 and beyond.
NOTE: All data insights contained in this blog are based on Twitter data collected between January 1, 2018 and November 30, 2018.