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What has Twitter done to sports coverage?

Jun 6, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT

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You may or may not care about Twitter yourself, but all of sports media is consumed by it and the manner in which you get your sports news is influenced by it. For that reason, you may find this an interesting read:  The Big Lead took a survey of media professionals about their attitudes toward Twitter, what’s good, what’s bad and how it has changed sports coverage. The results and comments are all pretty interesting and it’s hard to disagree with most of the observations and conclusions.

I think the bit about it being addictive and stressful for reporters is interesting but maybe more of a transitional problem for sports media. The newspaper model is to have a beat reporter covering everything about a team or a sport 24/7. Which was fine when the sources the beats used for news were only available at certain times. If the coach is home sleeping, after all, the reporter can’t be expected to get a quote from him so he or she can sleep too. Now, however, there’s always a chance someone may tweet something that is news or close enough to it that it needs to be noted by the beat reporter, thus the stress and obsession.

But the 24/7 model doesn’t have to hold. If the news cycle is now truly 24 hours, the day should be carved up into shifts so it can be fully covered by human beings who may, on occasion, wish to sleep, eat, poop and the like. That’s why we here at HBT and the other NBC blogs have a rough sort of shift system. ESPN and other online-only outlets do too. Sure, I may be around at 9pm some evenings and if something big happens I may post something then, but generally speaking I’m able to shut down Twitter at 6pm and enjoy my evening and have some dinner or something, even if I am obsessively on Twitter during the day.

The rest of the stuff — people can be nasty, the overall vibe can be negative — are all legitimate concerns. Especially for women and minorities who, for whatever reason, take disproportionate abuse from the jerkwards. I would hope that over time the notion that idiots feel cool to act awful online abates, but it may not. And if it doesn’t, the greatest thing about Twitter — it’s interactivity between fans, the media, athletes and institutions — may go by the wayside. That would be a shame.

Overall, though? I think it’s hard to argue that Twitter hasn’t been fantastic for sports obsessives. Thoughts?

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Love it, for all it’s horribleness.

    • pjmitch - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      Hate it, because of the same horribleness

      • Jason @ IIATMS - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        maybe I should restate:

        Love it, despite all of its horribleness

    • cur'68 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      Refrain from using it, because of all the horribleness.

      • Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        I suggest that it will ultimately be replaced with a voice-message system in which the 140-character evisceration of meaningful communication will be replaced with grunts, snorts and flatus.

  2. campcouch - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    The problem I have with using Twitter for breaking news,rumors or a developing story is that there is no one asking the person shooting it out “are you sure”. If the janitor at Yankee Stadium swears on his dead grandmother’s cat that he saw Jeter eating a frank at shortstop,he suddenly becomes a source associated to or with knowledge of the situation. Soon,people believe what was sent out until the retraction or update that got lost in the wave of updates is picked up by an online forum or televised media. By then,the world believes that Jeter has besmirched the good name of baseball by eating a hot dog on the field. Everyone wants to hear about something as soon as it happens,but I’d prefer to get verification or at least a few verified facts instead of,”Report: Jeets eats meats on his feets”,especially when it turns out that the guy just wiped his face with his glove.

    • zzalapski - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      Whoever thinks the NY Post would hesitate to use that headline is lying and/or mistaken.

  3. hojo20 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    I prefer to follow Pete Abraham’s tweets during a Red Sox game than actually watching the game. I don’t have 3+ hours to invest in watching a game every night. I can get the feel of what’s going on by Abraham’s tweets.

    • renaado - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      Better just stay at your home then.

  4. jeffbbf - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Don’t knock it. Without Twitter, Craig wouldn’t be able to find anything to write about.

  5. sportsdrenched - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    I was leaning toward being anti-twitter when I first heard about it. Then one day about 4 years ago I heard a local sports update report news that had been broken on Twitter, or some athlete tweeted where they were going to school or something. My thought at the time was: “Hey, if the reporters themselves are using twitter for news sources, maybe I should look into it.” So, I did, and have found I enjoy it a lot for a lot of the reasons mentioned in TBL article. But I have a few more thoughts.

    Games: During games, whether they are the Royals game or a National event that everyone is watching I have found twitter to be a great addition to game viewing and if I’m watching a game, I’m on twitter too….but only during commercials. I learned early on you’ll miss something in the game if you type too much.

    Information: As mentioned on TBL. Twitter will broaden horizons. While you can tailor who you follow to your interests, in never fails that I’ll learn about something that I didn’t know about that I end up enjoying.

    As for the negative stuff? The only negative thing I find unique to twitter is the bots and the spam. It’s all over the internet, but for some reason it annoys me on twitter more than anywhere. Other than that. All the complaints I hear about twitter, the hate, the group think, d-bags, they are not unique to twitter. Those things are there any time you have a group of people. they’re in your family, high school, college, fraternity, church, they’re everywhere. If you don’t think so you’re not paying attention. You just have to take the high road, be an adult, and keep moving along.

    • Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      I suspect spam on Twitter is more annoying because the net content of intelligent communication there is so much smaller than it is on any other medium except maybe Tea Party web sites. Ergo, the bots and spam just seem even more obnoxious by comparison.

  6. sdelmonte - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    I find Twitter to be information overload. I follow it indirectly through Bleacher Report, and then really use it to find longer features or articles. Frankly, I don’t have much interest in interacting with the vast majority of sportwriters, and don’t really think we need 24/7 coverage of anything, especially something as unimportant as sports.

    • sportsdrenched - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      What ever you’re into….it’s on twitter.

      If you like looking at pictures of Cats & Money…there is a feed for you.

      • sdelmonte - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        I’m into 600 page novels. Can’t image reading them 140 characters at a time, but I bet it’s out there.

      • sportsdrenched - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        The two are not mutually exclusive. Some authors are in twitter too. Harlan Coben is actually a decent sports follow too.

  7. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    I get the stuff about accuracy, but also: it’s baseball. You’d prefer immediate accuracy, but I’m pretty cool with immediacy and mostly accuracy followup up by clarification. No one is dying on an operating table and no villages are getting bombed as a result of this stuff.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      I get the stuff about accuracy, but also: it’s baseball.

      Don’t you think it’s a bit of a larger issue when someone, let’s say a writer for a Charlotte, NC newspaper, can tweet that “Robinson Cano expects to get suspended any day now”, which is then picked up by the larger media, and nothing every happens?

      The big issue I have with twitter is there’s not enough skepticism about “reports”. I haven’t seen him referenced lately, but I know in the NY Media they used to always have a char named “incarceratedbob” to spout rumor after rumor, without wondering who this guy is or where he gets his info?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        I think most people in sports Twitter — or people who spend a lot of time there anyway, whether they are in media or not — have a built in gauge of how much weight to give reports. Reputation matters. That Incarcerated Bob guy is a joke and hardly anyone gives his reports credence. He has a lot of followers, but he’s a joke to the mainstream media.

        Also: if a big report comes from someone who has never, ever reported anything like that or if something that is usually in someone else’s beat gets reported elsewhere, people are skeptical. The “fake report followed by it spreading like wildfire” thing is pretty rare, actually. Mostly happens when a usually trusted reporter messes up. Which happened before Twitter a lot too. Now it’s just corrected more quickly.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        True, and I haven’t heard his name referenced in awhile. Guess my rant was a little more against the last couple of years of twitter than more recently. It just really put me off following national writers because they seemed to give too much credence to random people without any fact checking.

  8. brandotho - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    It’s definitely good for reporters to get info out (not just in sports, of course) quickly, but it also gives a larger platform to the trolls of the internet. And then there’s the Incarcerated Bobs of the world….

  9. Gamera the Brave - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Craig, I was gonna call B.S. on the word “jerkward”. But, just to be safe, I googled the word:
    From the Urban Dictionary – “jerkward. – a word used to describe someone who acts like a jerk. – a cool word for jerk. – similar to the word squidward – except a jerk.”

    My takeaway from this is that you have spent too much time watching Spongebob Squarepants…

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      That was a legit mistake. I meant to say “jerkwad.” The fact that it accidentally landed on a “real” word is pure chance.

  10. Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Twitter has done to spawrts kuvveridge the same thing it has done to political and social discourse, and to the people who use it: made it stupider and more vapid.

    • raysfan1 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Agree. I also despise Vines for the same reason, well that and people I know who play them over and over such that I’d prefer to be water boarded.

      • Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Well, our ranking American media whore and resident moron Sarah Palin would be happy to oblige you.

        I wonder if she waterboarded Glenn Rice too.

  11. joecool16280 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    We were better off without it, the bad outweighs the good by a landslide. Look at the effect it has had/having on the younger generation. It feeds into narcissism, bullying, and instant gratification. Waiting is not a bad thing!

    • Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      You forgot illiteracy.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      It feeds into narcissism, bullying, and instant gratification.

      But isn’t this true of all the “young generations”? What was the excuse pre-twitter?

      • Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:06 PM

        Lax upbringing. Twitter transformed it into laxative upbringing.

  12. trbmb - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Liked it for its connectivity to and immediacy for baseball news, hated it for the online bad asses, brave and tough people on a smart phone. Thus, I bagged it and miss it not.

  13. contraryguy - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    The value of Twitter, in a sports fan context or otherwise, depends largely on who you follow. Browsing outside of that, such as following team trends e.g. #Reds) usually gives a flood of snark with some everyday local journos mixed in. Either way, if you just pay attention to the journos, and fans who you recognize as reliable sources, you can get real news fast.

    With that said, should probably note that I do not follow any NBC Sports accts.

  14. foreverchipper10 - Jun 9, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    An article was posted on this website from a tweet I sent to Craig, I won an autographed Josh Hamilton baseball from retweeting someone and as of two weeks ago Jose Bautista follows me on Twitter. I’d say I’m quite happy with it.

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