New app designed for sports fans on Twitter


New app designed for sports fans on Twitter

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- When Philip Sanford goes to his favorite bar to watch his beloved Seton Hall Pirates, he brings along his phone charger so he also can follow the game on Twitter. Heather Carleton looks to the social media website for clarification when there's a disputed call involving the San Francisco 49ers. David Foreman likes to communicate with West Virginia fans across the country. More and more these days, when the game is on, so is the computer. Or tablet. Or cellphone. Sports fans around the world are following along on Twitter while they watch their favorite teams in person or on TV, and a new application from a San Francisco startup is designed to make that experience even easier for them. "Since I can't really listen to it since I'm at a sports bar, I like to read about what's going on from a journalistic point of view," said the 29-year-old Sanford, who lives in Charlotte, N.C. "I can learn about what's going from several different sources." There are signs all over that sports fans are using Twitter even while the game is going on in front of them. Sporting events are responsible for the majority of the top moments measured in tweets per second. The Champions League match between Barcelona and Chelsea on April 24 peaked at 13,684 tweets per second, second only to the 2011 showing of a movie in Japan. According to a study by the Perform sports media group, 26 percent of U.S. fans use social media platforms to follow their favorite sports, up from 15 percent in a similar survey in 2011. One-third of those fans say they use Twitter to follow sports, trailing Facebook (89 percent) and YouTube (65) -- based on 1,002 online interviews of adults conducted during February and March. Colleges and professional sports are paying attention to those numbers. Sunday's Pocono 400 Presented by (hash)NASCAR marked Twitter's first official partnership with a sports league. There are all sorts of official hashtags that allow fans to zero in on everything being said about their hometown teams at key moments. "It's really interesting to get more perspective on the game or whatever, whether it's golf or football, because I get to learn more about the players maybe the announcers aren't talking about," Carleton said. "So I think it's becoming more of a tool or resource than the social media part." Carleton, 34, a stay at home mom in Portland, Ore., goes to Mike Pereira whenever there is a questionable ruling in a 49ers game. Pereira was NFL vice president of officiating from 2001-09 and will weigh in on some controversial whistles on Twitter. "It's kind of nice to have that third party to see if you're being biased or not and then you feel vindicated if he says you're right," she said. Foreman, 40, of Lewisburg, Pa., likes the community aspect found on Twitter during sporting events. "I'm sort of an expatriate so a lot of time as I'm watching the Pirates game I am communicating with people in California and other far-flung locations, especially watching WVU," said Foreman, who works in development at Bucknell University. Will Hunsinger knows exactly what Foreman is talking about. Hunsinger, 42, is a proud Georgetown alum and avid follower of the men's basketball team. He was watching a game with his wife last year while communicating with a friend from Switzerland over Facebook and receiving text messages from his father when he came up with an idea. "I was like God, if I could just have this in my hand, where I was watching the game and do all this and see what people were talking about on Twitter ... it would make the game even more fun because now I'm connected with all the people I care about being connected with while I'm in the moment,'" he said. That was the beginning of SportStream, a free application for the iPad that was just approved by Apple and is expected to go live on Thursday. The new program offers curated Twitter feeds for major games that focus on posts from the most popular users based on an evolving credibility database. Fans also can check into games on Facebook and invite friends, as well as talk trash with others in another area of the app. "The concept is to enhance the live sports viewing experience rather than replace it," Hunsinger said. "Sports are inherently social. We want to connect friends, fans and foes, if you will, around the game action and enhance the viewing experience by allowing people to connect on whatever and socialize and consume the game conversation at whatever level that they're comfortable with." Hunsinger received a big lift from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen right after he came up with the idea for SportService. The billionaire owner of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and NFL's Seattle Seahawks funded the new company with a 3.5 million investment through his firm, Vulcan Inc. Hunsinger and Allen are betting on sports becoming even more intertwined with social media in the future. "I think actually we're just on the front edge of a wave," Hunsinger said. "I think that it's going to continue to explode."

Older, wiser Gronk: 'When the journey is need to get down'


Older, wiser Gronk: 'When the journey is need to get down'

FOXBORO -- The move did not require Olympic-caliber speed or other-worldly quickness. There was a subtle head fake, a foot in the ground, a shoulder turn. All of a sudden, Rob Gronkowski was wide open in the middle of the field and reeling in a Tom Brady pass for 37 yards in the fourth quarter of last weekend's win over the Steelers. 

Bill Belichick raved about the play on days after the fact. What Gronkowski did to safety Robert Golden was a thing of beauty in the eyes of the coach.

"This really is a good look at Rob’s route-running ability," Belichick said. "Rob comes in on Golden and takes it down the middle, like he’s going to run a crossing pattern or over route, and gives him a good move here and bends it back out. The receivers clear out the corners. That’s a lot of space there."

Gronkowski's move, combined with the steady diet of crossing routes teams have seen from the Patriots in recent weeks, helped set up the play that led to LeGarrette Blount's second touchdown of the day. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end was like a power pitcher who had been throwing fastballs for six innings and then pulled the string with a change-up in the seventh. Golden was helpless. 

"The number of times we’ve run Rob on over routes, and to come back and counter it -- it looks like Golden is trying to guess on the route and undercut it a little bit. Rob comes back away from it and turns it into a big play and sets up our last touchdown. Really a well-executed play by Rob.

“Sometimes you think it’s all size and strength, but as a technique route runner, he’s very good, too."

A quick mid-route shimmy. A look in one direction before heading in another. A nudge -- sometimes picking up a flag, sometimes not. They're all elements of route-running that Gronkowski has added to his tool belt over the course of his seven years with the Patriots. Considered the team's resident frat boy, it's sometimes hard to remember that he's one of the longest-tenured players on the team, a captain, and that he's picked up his share veteran tricks along the way.  

"I’ve definitely had to work it out plenty since I’ve been here," Gronkowski said of his route-running. "To be successful in this organization and this offense you just got to be working on it big time. It’s not just you just come in and you have it. From day one I remember I could barely even get open but just learning from Tom, from all my coaches here, it definitely helps out going out and focusing on your route detail. 

"Sometimes, necessarily, you don’t have to be the best skilled player out on the field to get open. It’s just learning the game of football, how to get open, what move to make is definitely all part of it."

Getting open is only part of it.

What he does with the football in his hands to run away from defenders is something that comes naturally. What hasn't always clicked for Gronkowski is how to finish. He has a tendency to want to impose his will on opponents at the ends of plays, running them over and leaving them behind, or embarrassing them and their loved ones by dragging them for inordinate amounts of time as he churns forward for extra yards. 

But in recent years, he's accepted that not every play needs to end with an exclamation point. He has come to understand that oftentimes a simple period will do.

Take his 37-yard catch against the Steelers, for example. When he got near the sideline and faced down a Pittsburgh defensive back, instead of trying to trample him to get to the goal line, he lowered his pads, shielded his legs, and went down.

"You always got to protect yourself whenever you can," he said. "You know, when the journey is done, if you’re running the ball, just get down and don’t take that extra shot. You can always show your toughness, you can have five guys take you down, but really that’s sometimes not the case. 

"You really want to show that you just want to get down, you want to preserve your body for the next play when the journey is done and you’re not going to get any more yards."

More often than not, it's the prudent choice. Mature, even. 

"It started coming in the last few years," Gronkowski said. "I remember a couple times my rookie year I'd just try and ‘Boom!' I remember I’d be like, ‘Oh, that one hurt.’ It hurt to go one more inch. 

"Definitely, when the journey is over and you know you gave it all -- you’re not going to be able to carry five guys, sometimes not even two guys -- whenever you just feel like you need to get down, you need to get down. It’s a physical game. Every play is going to be physical so save it for the next one."

Spoken like a savvy veteran. 

Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls


Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ bench was unable to close out Wednesday’s 122-117 win over Brooklyn, but don’t look for head coach Brad Stevens to make any significant changes tonight.

“I felt pretty good about those rotations last night,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’sgame against Chicago. “For forty minutes, we rotated well.”

After a relatively close first quarter, it was Boston’s second unit that gave Boston its first double-digit lead of the night and led by as many as 13 points.

But it wasn’t their scoring that jumped out to Stevens.

“The second unit came in and provided probably our best defensive sequence of the game, start of the second quarter and played really well until the end,” Stevens said.

Stevens played a total of 10 players against the Nets – all playing in the first half - and will likely have a similar number of Celtics on the floor tonight against the Bulls.

It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do rotation-wise when Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Kelly Olynk (right shoulder) are back on the active roster.

Smart recently confirmed an earlier report that the left ankle injury he suffered in the Celtics’ final preseason game against the New York Knicks, would keep him out for a couple of weeks.

In addition to missing the season opener against Brooklyn, Smart is likely to miss another three games.

Olynyk, who had offseason surgery in May, has been cleared for contact but is not expected to be back on the floor until the middle of next month.

“Until our other guys get back,” Stevens said. “There will be similar rotations.”