Language of Champions


What do iconic victory speeches reveal about sports people's personalities?

 

 

Feeling the buzz when you’re straight off the pitch, the court, the track or the field is a feeling some of us casual sports players know too well. But we never have a microphone thrust under our noses to capture our emotions - although we might want to after scoring a worldie in five-a-side. With adrenaline still pumping through the veins of athletes, analysing these postgame interviews is a great way to reveal the true colours of some iconic champions.

 

We have identified some of these moments, ran them through an AI language studio, manually listened to postgame interviews and used Python scripts to analyse the kind of language used in these heat-of-the-moment interviews.

 

Who hogs the limelight and who thanks their mum? Use the tool below to find out. 

The sporting world’s biggest softies, rugby players tend to focus on thanking their family, friends and teammates more than any other type of sportsperson after big events. The least likely to talk about their family and friends are football managers where family is mentioned near to no times in the identified interviews.

 

As expected, self-belief is key to boxing and no one backs themselves more. Both Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury mention terms centred around self-belief significantly more than average. In AJ’s interviews post-fight, there are almost seven mentions a minute of terms indicating self-belief.

 

Football managers such as Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate rank towards the top of this factor too, showing that backing yourself is key to leading teams to success. 

 

As well as name-checking family in post-match interviews, rugby players also have the highest likelihood of name-checking teammates, coaches and people behind the scenes in a show of unity. In an average minute interview, rugby players will mention others 19 times, way over the average sportsperson of 11 per 60 seconds. 

Instead, tennis players are most likely to mention themselves. Per 60 seconds, tennis players use words like ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘myself’ and ‘self’ eight times which is almost double the average of the typical sports person. Cyclists, however, are the least likely to mention themselves and other synonymous words.

 

You’re probably thinking ‘well, what do cyclists actually talk about then?’, mainly they chat about their loved ones, their country and disbelief of successes.

 

Cyclists are, in fact, more likely to mention disbelief in their post-race interviews than most other sports in the study. Only tennis players express more surprise. Footballers and their managers are the least likely, and are the most likely to use words denoting joy and elation compared to other sports.

 

Also, football managers rank high in the likelihood of remaining rational in their post-match interviews with mentions of ‘plans’, ‘tactics’ and ‘strategy’ -  twice as likely than the average sports person. Rugby players are also highly likely to mention tactics in their postgame interviews - even more so than football managers whereas cyclists and tennis players are the least likely.

Think what you’d say down the microphone if one was put under your nose when you walk off your local Powerleague pitch or tennis court. With no PR training or previous experience, it’s likely to be a little more fruity than the Leah Williamsons or Carlo Anncelottis of the world.


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