The games we play
The NBA and NHL playoffs both kicked off in earnest this week, and searches for hockey and basketball topics lit up the scoreboard. In fact, the Chicago Blackhawks occupied a post in Google’s Hot Searches list every day but one since last Friday. The defending Stanley Cup champions are playing a tight (and, as of Wednesday, tied) series against the St. Louis Blues; they also drew controversy this weekend when stories emerged of the Blackhawks taunting Blues captain David Backes after a hit that got the Hawks’ Brent Seabrook suspended.
In the NBA, it was all about the big plays. Searches for the OKC Thunder’s Kevin Durant peaked after he made a ridiculous four-point play while (and I don’t use this word lightly) literally falling out of bounds on Tuesday. The last time Durant came close to this level of search interest was on January 30, after a 12-game 30+ point scoring streak. And the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge was on fire on the court and on Google, scoring more than 40 points in his team’s first two playoff games against the Houston Rockets… on the road—making him one of only three players ever to do so. On a more somber note, searches were also high for longtime sideline reporter Craig Sager, who revealed on Sunday that he has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
Moving to the diamond, [pine tar] was the top searched topic overall on Wednesday after Yankees’ starting pitcher Michael Pineda was caught red-handed (and sticky-necked) using the substance, a violation of MLB rules, while elsewhere in the American League the Angels’ Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run. And during Monday’s Boston Marathon (a trending topic both this week and last), Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the race in more than 30 years, making him a “breakout,” with nearly 1,000% increase in search interest over the last year on Google Search.
Stranger than fiction
Alongside searches for Easter and Earth Day, there were a few unconventional celebrations this week. Dyngus Day, a Polish-American holiday taking place on Easter Monday and similar to Poland’s Śmigus-Dyngus and Hungary’s Vízbevető, was a top topic in search on Monday (O.K., so it wasn’t the top topic, but it was top of mind for many). Traditionally celebrated by boys throwing water over girls, in the U.S. Dyngus Day celebrations include parades, traditional foods and polka music. Whatever its origins, interest in Dyngus Day has been growing steadily the past two years since barely registering on Search in 2012.
What the… powdered alcohol?! That’s what some people were thinking when they searched for [Palcohol], a powder that turns water into alcoholic drinks. It was approved by U.S. regulators earlier in the month, but this week the decision was rescinded. And when a 15-year-old boy caught a ride from San Jose, Calif., to Hawaii in an airplane wheel well, stunned searchers came to Google looking for images of wheel wells to understand how someone might survive such a feat—especially without the beverage cart.