Social Media Stirs Up Sports Fans

    November 13, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Sites like Yardbarker and Ballhype descend from the model popularized by tech-centric Digg. The vote up or down, user-powered ethic meets sports fanaticism.

Breaking sports news may be second only to politics when it comes to finding out something ahead of the mainstream media. Taking a look at Ballhype let me know that Lloyd Carr will retire from Michigan and Jorge Posada will re-sign with the Yankees.

Compare that with the morning drive time with ESPN Radio, where the Mike & Mike duo debated whether Mike Golic had a crush on celeb-chef Rachael Ray, or on her Thanksgiving recipes. (The latter, it turned out, to no surprise.)


Both of these aggregators of sports news had access to the same information. The Worldwide Leader had yuks, while Ballhype had scoops. NC, no contest, as Dick Vitale would say.

We have seen plenty of discussions of social media, and its impact on the mainstream news. Sports hasn’t received the same attention as topics like the various Presidential campaigns. But the performance of sites like Ballhype and Yardbarker may change this.

Anyone with a little curiosity about mixed martial arts might wonder about all the fuss over Kimbo Slice. At YardBarker, they can satisfy that curiosity and find a couple of videos from the fight. It’s over in 19 seconds; Bo Cantrell couldn’t tap out fast enough once Kimbo nailed him with an elbow.

We asked former WebProNews scribe Chris Richardson, lately writing the sports blog Intentional Foul, what he thought of the approach of Ballhype and Yardbarker to sports social media:

Ballhype seems to be a little scattered in their approach, whereas Yardbarker has really embraced the Digg method of social networking. With Yardbarker, it gives fans an opportunity to get closer to the athletes we see on nightly basis without having to resort to cyber-stalking methods.

Because these athletes are willing to post their thoughts on Yardbarker, a service that features players like Greg Oden, Carmelo Anthony, and Diana Taurasi, users feel like they have more insight into what makes these athletes human.

Yardbarker identifies posts by pros as “Verified Athletes.” In the time it took to type this story, boxer Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Yardbarker put up about four minutes of video from behind the scenes at his featherweight bout on November 3rd. Guerrero won that fight by TKO in the first round.

Even the most popular stories at these two sites don’t see the hundreds, much less thousands, of votes or comments a story on Digg might collect. But it’s early in sports social media; Digg once received little notice outside a small group of techies.

Between finding the hottest stories, and drawing original content from athletes, social media sites may have a lot to say about sports.

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