LEARY: Twitter still perfect for sports

Patrick Leary
Patrick Leary

Over the past few days, in light of the Boston Marathon bombings, my friends have posted a few articles on Facebook that essentially spread the same message: In this day and age, with Twitter and the demand for immediate information, breaking news is broken.

After CNN’s bang-up job of reporting the developments in the aftermath of the bombings (John King reported there was a suspect in custody and had to recant an hour later), it’s hard to argue with that sentiment. Twitter has destroyed our ability to consume news stories and emphasized getting the story first instead of getting it correct.

However, one area of the realm of consumption still remains ideal for Twitter. Twitter was made for sports and has completely enhanced the experience of being a sports fan and journalist.

Twitter affords fans a chance to interact with their favorite athletes and learn more about them. LeBron James’ last tweet stating, “Zero Dark Thirty-6 Activated! I’m gone” was pretty nonsensical and had no bearing on anything athletically important, yet his followers retweeted it more than 2,000 times. Packers offensive guard T.J. Lang became famous on Twitter for the most retweeted tweet of all-time (he since has been surpassed by Barack Obama) following the controversial “Fail Mary” game in September.

Twitter also provides a great way for fans to stay connected to what’s going on in the sports world. Yahoo Sports, which has developed a penchant for breaking significant news in the sports world, releases important scoops via Twitter. The social media platform has perfected the art of the gamecast, providing commentary to run alongside sports updates. The combination of sophisticated MLB.com Gameday tracking combined with tweets from MLB experts creates an experience that competes with watching the game itself.

Sure, the same sort of breaking news problems apply to sports sometimes. A famous local example took place when the Associated Press jumped the gun on Ryan Braun’s performance-enhancing drugs suspension appeal, tweeting that he would be suspended 50 games. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt challenged the AP and eventually reported that the suspension had been overturned.

But sports don’t run on the same breaking news structure as politics and world news.  The sports news cycle, barring events like the Boston Marathon, operates on a game-by-game basis. If a player goes down injured in the middle of a game, that’s a significant breaking news story, but ultimately what fans care about is results and what they mean.

Watching the game reveals the results, but the analysis from experts at the tip of fans’ fingers makes Twitter the perfect medium for a growing sports industry.