How social media has enhanced sports viewing for me

-by Steve Kandray

Social media during sports

Tanner’s post pointed out the fact that social media has changed the way we watch and interact with our favorite sports teams while at the game. Besides just moving into sporting venues, social media is well a part of viewing sports on TV.

Much like watching a TV program, watching sporting events is quickly becoming a 2 screen habit for many americans. Though some say that it takes your attention away from the game is merely a distraction, I have personally found sports to be a much enhanced experience with social meda.

So here are the main reasons I have my phone out when I watch the Penguins, and why you should too.

It adds a great level of depth to the experience 

You can get to know your team better 

I’m going to use my penguins watching experience as a context, just because it’s playoff hockey time and I’m an avid fan.  A great example of getting to know the team better is through the penguins hockey app. Every other day a new series of videos is posted with interviews of players, or shots of practice. This type of interaction helps me get to know the players off the ice,  and become more emotionally invested in the team as a whole. I also follow several players on twitter, unfortunately the greatest player in hockey right now ,Sidney Crosby doesn’t have one, and the second best player is Russian, so his tweets are tough to read. But still, getting a small glimpse of player’s personalities 140 characters at a time has made me feel much more connected to the pens.

You have instant access to expert opinion

It’s one thing to read a column in the newspaper written about the game a day later, but having live updates from a beat writer or columnist while you are watching a game, is even more valuable. I follow Josh Yohe, a beat writer who follows the penguins  for the Pittsburgh tribune, as well pens-inside-scoop. Both of these sources provide me with a plethora of statistics, analysis, and simply information that I don’t have, which helps me to understand what’s going on, and appreciate the game so much.

You have instant access to news about your team.

Following organizations are great too; I learned when Sidney Crosby was coming back due to the penguins official twitter account . The penguins also use their feed to announce line changes and lineups before games, almost like mini press releases.

It becomes a shared experience

One of my favorite sports viewing experiences is watching the big game with a large group of friends, or even being at a sports bar with a bunch of your team’s fans. The feeling of being part of something and being connected through sports is unique, and a difficult to replicate. Social media adds some of that shared audience feeling, it gives me the ability to spout off my opinions, hear what others are saying, and even celebrate.

Much like the value added from experts, comedians add a lot to a sports experience as well. Parody accounts, professional comics, and even just a few funny friends all add a touch of humor to sporting events, that make it even better.

There are  times when I need to be entirely focused on the game happening, but for 75% of the time, experiencing sports as a two screen experience has been great. What are you favorite benefits of using social media while watching sports? Let us know in the comments section!


The Jets vs. The World

By Ryan Smith

“Rex’s Carousel of Five” sounds like the newest musical on Broadway this season. As it turns out, that might as well be the title of the NY Jets’ off-season from the quarterback position, and needless to say it’s a comedy of errors right now.

Since the team’s fall from grace after their 2011 AFC Championship loss, the team has missed the playoffs in the 2011 and 2012 seasons and Mark Sanchez has been far from the prodigal son New York had expected.

Now, after this off-season, the Jets have five quarterbacks on their roster and got rid of one of the most polarizing, in a positive or negative way, quarterbacks in the franchise’s history in Tim Tebow.

The current quarterbacks on the roster have interesting resumes to say the least, but in terms of what they do on SM, the numbers speak for themselves as to how the public views each of them.

Let us first start with the released, or better yet, exiled, Tim Tebow.

Tebow’s numbers as a QB have been, an are, shaky at best, but he still has that miraculous playoff run (winning one game in OT) in 2012 that a majority of his supporters fall back on as his shining moment that could come again.

From a football standpoint, he has his doubters, but from a SM standpoint, he is top dog.

@TimTebow – 2.3 Million followers; Tebow’s Klout score (a statistic I’ve grown to love) is 87, making him the second most influential player in the NFL on SM next to RGIII who scored an 89.

Now for the players the Jets kept:

1. Mark “Butt fumble” Sanchez

Sanchez has been one of the worst statistical QB’s in the last three years, but the Jets have attempted to maintain consistency with him in hopes he would improve, which has yet to happen. He did lead the team to two AFC title games, yet didn’t win either of them. In fairness, it doesn’t exactly help when your head coach guarantees a Super Bowl appearance. So overall, he’s mediocre from a football sense.

Social Media-wise, @Mark_Sanchez  only has 835K followers, which is only 36 percent of Tebow’s. His Klout score is a modest 81, which still shows he has some influence , but fans love the Christianity empowering Tebow, which is quite obvious despite on-field performance.

2. Greg McElroy

The former Bama boy McElroy never really had much opportunity to prove himself until late last season, but his 79.2 QBR is higher than Sanchez’s 71.4 for his career.

McElroy is actually quite impressive on SM for a third-string QB. His 90K followers on Twitter (@GVMcElroy) is pretty modest and his 79 Klout influence score proves that any NFL player can have major impact on SM.

3. David Garrard

The newly signed vet Garrard has had some very good seasons during his 10 career and has proven his versatility with his 85.3 career passer rating and his 16,000 pass yards and 1,700 rush yards. His age is an issue for the Jets at 35 but you can guarantee he will be there to compete at mini-camp.

His SM presence is not quite as strong though with only 49K followers @davidgarrard9 but his Klout score proves do be an influential 84, which surpasses his counterparts in Sanchez and McElroy, which proves fans love him primarily because he has tenure in the league.

4. Geno Smith

Then there’s Geno. A proverbial first round pick and physical QB specimen, Smith fell to 39th and the second round as what seemed like a steal for the Jets. He is no Luck or RGIII to many, but many sports minds feel he will take the starting job away from Sanchez no matter how confident he feels in keeping it. In a league where the West Coast Offense is dying and the Zone-Read (shameless plug, right?) is emerging, Smith’s dual threat ability fits the mold much better.

Smith seems quite new to SM with less than 400 tweets (@GenoSmith_12) but he still has an ok following of 38K. his Klout score of 73 is quite impressive for being a rookie in the league and practically an unknown until last season. The fans seem to love him though because, although he’s not Tebow, he might be the right QB to light a fire under Sanchez, and it seems he already has.

5. Matt Simms

Who? He is the undrafted rookie the Jets picked up out of Tennessee who was Tyler Bray’s backup. He’ll probably be the understudy to this Broadway show as well. I could not even find his Twitter handle for God’s sake.

So all in all, the Jets need some help in this “rebuilding” phase. It is quite funny that they’re rebuilding with many of the young pieces from last season’s unsuccessful team.

The fans know each player on this team has a presence on SM (for the most part, thanks Simms) and they are going to monitor their every move because these guys are playing football in arguably the biggest sports city in the world.

So no matter how amazing or influential or funny a player may be on SM for the fans, these guys are going to have a lot of work to do on the field to get these fans back to the Broadway Joe days of euphoria.


Twitter and the NBA Playoffs

By: Tanner Lawrence

The NBA Playoffs are well on their way. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs had little problem with their first round foes, both of them advancing to the second round with a four game sweep. All of the buzz and hype that surrounds the playoffs is evident on social media, especially Twitter.

Andy Kamentzky, of, listed LeBron James as the number one NBA player in a list of sixteen to follow on Twitter leading up until the NBA Finals. Unforanently, Tweeps may not have that opportunity because James has turned off his phone and is refraining from social media for the duration of the playoffs. This should not come as a surprise to the Twitter world. Last season, James did the same thing in the 2012 playoffs. He was often found reading a book, particularly The Hunger Games.

Before taking a hiatis from his Twitter account on April 20th LBJ sent out this tweet:

Some players need to take LeBron’s lead and take a little break from Twitter, at least for the playoffs. Royce White is one of these players. White, a rookie first round draft pick of the Houston Rockets, has not played with the team this season because of anxiety disorders stemmed fears of airplane travel.

In case you are unaware the Rockets are the 8th seed in the west and are taking on the one seed and reigning Western Conference Champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder were up 3-0 in the series, but following a season ending injury to star pointguard Russell Westbrook the Rockets crept back in the series trailing 3-2. No team in NBA Playoff history has ever overcame a 3-0 deficit and the Rockets could be on their way in becoming the first.

Anyways, White tweeted some smack talk to both the Thunder organization (@okcthunder) and Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) following Wednesday nights 107-100 victory.  To the Thunder, White said:

“That @okcthunder team just looked shook. They’re looking shaky baby.”

White then took his attention to Durant:

“@KDTrey5…Y’all Are looking SHAAAKYY BAABYY.”

Some bold words for an individual who not played a significant minute in the NBA, let alone a playoff game.

What was Royce White thinking when he sent that tweet out? Especially to a guy who finished second in the MVP race this season? I have no idea. Not a clue. One thing I am sure of though, we will see more tweets like his sometime this postseason. Just wait and see.

I’ll bet you can’t guess the 7 most popular sports Twitter accounts!

by steve Kandray

Yep, I guess I’m just recently on a twitter list kick. Anyway, I thought it was interesting to see which athletes and sports were the most popular in terms of twitter followers… I was quite surprised by what I learned. So here are the 7 most popular sports-related twitter accounts, based off statistics by

#7  @ Shaq (Shaquille O neil)

Shaq Twitter

Coming in with just over 7 million tweets is Shaq, which isn’t too surprising. The former NBA superstar has become a bit of a cultural icon with his off the court persona making it’s way into televison and film.

#6. @NBA (the National Basketball Association)


Another basketball related account at #6. According to it’s ranked at #82 out of all Twitter accounts in the world, one spot above Shaq at #83. Surprisingly enough though, this is the only league of any kind featured on the list. the NBA outperforms the NFL, The NHL, major league baseball as well as NASCAR.  I think this speaks to the global appeal of basketball, or at least appeal in countries that like to tweet.

#5 @Realmadrid (Real Madrid, Spanish Soccer Team)

Real Madrid soccer team twitter summary

The super popular (at least in Europe) Spanish powerhouse soccer team Real Madrid comes in at #5 on this list. It’s important to note that Real Madrid has two accounts, one for English and one for Spanish and this one was the Spanish version.

#4 @KingJames (Lebron James)

Lebron James

The #4 overall sports account, and third basketball account so far, belongs to the current NBA MVP and widely regarded best basketball player in the world, Lebron James. Again, it’s fascinating that Lebron has more followers than his superstar equivalents in other American sports leagues. It could be that no other sport, at least in the United States, has such a big celebrity as the face of their league, but I think the global appeal of basketball is another key factor.

#3 @FCBarcelona (F.C. Barcelona soccer team)

F.C. Barcelona

So this one really has me stumped. Not the fact that another Spanish soccer team is on the list, but that the English version of the account is so much more popular than the Spanish version… It’s a SPANISH team! The Spanish version only has about 3 million followers. Perhaps English is a more universal language, or the English account is older than the Spanish version. I’m not sure what the conclusion is especially since the trend with Real Madrid was the opposite.

#2 @Kaka (Kaka)

Kaka Twitter summary

With a staggering 15 million followers the single named Spanish soccer player
“Kaka” has about as many followers as Shaq and Lebron combined. I think it’s easy to forget, since we dont’ care about it here in the USA but soccer is the most popular sport in the world.

#1 @ Cristiano (Cristiano Ronaldo – Soccer Player)

Cristiano Ronaldo Twitter page

A spanish soccer player tops our list as the #1 sports Twitter account, he is also #15 in terms of followers in the world. He has also had an account longer than any other account on the list, which may help explain his huge followership.

In summary, we’ve got 3 basketball related accounts, and 4 soccer related accounts. All the soccer accounts are connected to Spain.. What do I make of this… not entirely sure. A detailed breakdown of twitter users by country and language, and a tally of what sports are popular may yield some results, but that’s a project for another day.

I do know that the United States and Spain have played in  men’s Finals in Basketball for the last two Olympics. I guess my preliminary conclusion is that Tweeting about basketball and Spanish Soccer are the best ways to reach a massive audience.

If you’ve got  some better theories, or ideas of what to make of this list let us know in the comments!

Social Media Creeping Into Sport Venues Around The World


By: Tanner Lawrence

Fan interactions in stadiums, arenas and fields across the world and across all sports are changing. Why is this? It’s because of social media. Social media allows for this immediate, up-to-date interaction. Organizations aren’t dumb. They know this and the ones that want to succeed are looking for ways to implement social media in a fan’s game experience.

Imagine you’re at Madison Square Garden watching the New York Knicks play. During one of the breaks a funny picture of one of the players appears on the jumbotron. They can announce to all of the fans in the arena to tweet a caption for the picture using a certain hash tag. This situation, which is completely hypothetical, is an example of how teams can use social media to empower fan interaction at games.

Manchester City knew about the power of social media for fan interaction when they installed a video board inside Etihad Stadium. The board would display tweets fans in the stadium and around the world when they used #blueview.

The Cleveland Indians recently took notice of how social media can be used inside Progressive Field. The Tribe organization created a new and unique ways fans can be involved in the game. The Social Suite, which provides an awesome view of the game, is reserved for the lucky fans who apply and are chosen chosen. They are also encouraged to communicate about the game through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

There is no question that social media is powerful, but how powerful is it? Steve Herd of SignalShare believes that second to only making the playoffs, “social media is THE most powerful for increasing fan interest and engagement.” He reiterates that this is because social media allows for fans to share their experience at games and will reach more people than traditional forms of media such as newspapers, radio or television. If you have time, read his article here. I found it very interesting and, if you want to learn more about social media like I do, you might as well.

So what is your favorite professional team doing to incorporate social media into your game experience?  Are they ahead of the pack? Maybe they’re playing catch up? Whatever the answer is, there is no doubt that you can expect it to be playing an important part of your game experience sometime soon.

9 Funny Tweets about the NFL Draft!

-Steve Kandray

Ah yes the, much anticipated, 2013 NFL draft has come and gone, the biggest event in the Pro-Football off-season. Now that the emotional pangs of watching your team make crazy decisions is over, it’s time to step back and laugh about it a little bit.

So here is a list of 9 funny tweets about the NFL draft.



Yes, I decided to start off on a pretty juvenile note, but what can I say? Imagining a professional sports organization behaving as though it was run by 12 year old boys at a sleepover is funny.



I may be showing my anti-Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers fan bias with this one, but I think even Browns fans would agree, that they aren’t exactly the most promising team in the NFL.



Some of these tweets are a little too close to true to be funny… In this case I’d like to send my condolences to any Vikings fans.



More comedy gold from Evil Mike Tomlin. Even if you are not a Pittsburgh fan, I think you can appreciate some of his general comments regarding the NFL. And come on, who doesn’t love a good Mark Sanchez joke?



This tweet from Sports Pickle is  the perfect mix of sarcastic comedy and a great observation. It’s unbelievable, the amount of time and efforts these pundits put into their mock drafts only to come up terribly wrong. I’m looking at you Mel Kiper.



I was  impressed with the cleverness of the parody accounts this year.  My only response to that tweet is this infamous GIF from the national championship game.


bleacher report

First of all, I’d like to clarify and say yes, Geno did actually say this, this isn’t a sarcastic or parody tweet. Second, Did Geno learn nothing from Rex Ryan’s Bold predictions about the Superbowl and Vince Young’s “Dream Team” comments from 2011. I’m just saying, calling your shot doesn’t really have a great track record in the NFL.


draft beer

Wow… my third tweet poking fun at the jets. I guess any team that trades for Tim Tebow sort of brings it upon themselves. Anyway, nothing too sophisticated about this one, just some good old wordplay.


counting down

Another post that is waaaaayyy too close to being true for comfort. Please ESPN, can we at least turn down the NFL off-season hype just a little bit. It’s the NBA playoffs, and nearly the NHL playoffs for God’s sake!

There you have it,  9 funny tweets about the 2013  NFL draft.

Have you seen any funnier Tweets from this year’s draft? Please give us your favorite in the comments below!

Is Baseball still America’s Pastime?

BY Ryan Smith

WRITER’S NOTE: I am a ridiculous baseball fan, I show no football bias because our name is in fact The Zone-Read Blog. But the facts are sadly the facts.

Summer is approaching and baseball is here!

We all know that hundreds of millions of people watch the Super Bowl each year. But do you know how many people watch the final games of the World Series every year? What about for the 2012 WS?

30.2 Million.

Not too bad right? Well that was for all four games TOTAL. The average was 7.6 million per game, which is seven percent of SB XLVII.

So with both of these being two of the biggest events in American sports, is baseball still America’s Pastime, or has football taken over?

Many people think that football is taking over because of the media and social media making a bigger deal about football rather than baseball. I mean come on, when was the last time that the MLB draft was televised? In that same breath, the NFL Draft has been televised for a while and seems like a national event when it takes place.

ESPN has two analysts that know a lot about football but can predict the first round as well as I can when it’s all said and done…



…yet these two guys get more publicity the month before the draft than every baseball scout and insider before the MLB draft, which is a great example of what the media does for football.

However, the media is not totally at fault by any means, much of it starts with the environment each athlete grows up in.

A lot of kids used to look up to guys like Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s before the combined NFL really even existed, so everyone wanted to be center field for the Brooklyn Dodgers or the Boston Braves rather than play for the Steelers.

Nowadays many local towns and cities have become football towns and cities because of the skyrocketing popularity of the NFL.

This sounds corny but think about this: Every single guy in high school wants to be popular and the most popular guy is the varsity quarterback, not the starting third baseman or ace pitcher. That translates into more attention and desire to be in the NFL as opposed to the MLB.

Based on a study* of most influential athletes on SM, the top 40 contain eight players from the NFL while the only player from Major League Baseball with any influence is Boston’s David Ortiz at No. 37.

*The study was based on Klout score which is a combination of Facebook and Twitter presence and influence.

As of right now, the only thing the MLB has over the NFL is their recognition of All-Pros/All-Stars. The viewership of the MLB All-Star Game outranks that of the Pro Bowl but that’s mostly because the MLB’s game actually matters. The Pro Bowl has about as much effort and meaning in today’s NFL as a Pop Warner Championship game, and those kids probably actually play for real.

Baseball is still loved by many Americans and is still the go-to summer activity for most sports fanatics such as myself. However, football is slowly taking over. It’s really not my opinion, it’s just more so becoming fact.

But in my opinion, a ballpark hot dog does not taste quite as good in Cleveland Browns Stadium as it does in Progressive Field. After all, America is still built on Chevy’s, Grandma’s apple pie and baseball.


Derek Jeter: “I have no doubt I’ll be back”


Derek Jeter met with the media a few minutes ago. No new news was broken. This was mostly Jeter reminding everyone that, yes, he’s still alive. Among his comments, which I’m getting from various Yankees beat writers Twitter feeds:

Jeter said recovering from his broken ankle has been a “difficult” and “frustrating” process that “unfortunately has taken longer than expected.” He said, however, that “I have no doubt I’ll be back,” though he and the Yankees are declining to give a timeline, because “last timeline I set I didn’t make. I don’t want to disappoint myself.” But he does not regret setting a goal of returning Opening Day, even if it didn’t work out. He said he “never had any doubt” that he’d come back, even if it hasn’t worked out the way he expected it to.

He said “as soon as I can play, I’ll play.” And though he won’t…

View original post 144 more words

THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET! Posting dumb things on social media and its effect on personal brands

By: Tanner Lawrence

Most of us have been there. Being so infuriated or upset by something we immediately turn on our phone or open up our laptops and vent out through a tweet or a Facebook status that we later regret. Normal people like me have at least. Do I really mean normal? Average might be a better word. I’m just an average 21 year college student trying to reach graduation the best way I can and sometimes I put my frustrations out on the web. Ultimately, I regret even thinking about putting it out there for the social media world to see. Of course I go back and delete it with hopes that is has not reached very many people. A few retweets or a few shares later who knows who could be looking at it through another end. What if it was my future girlfriend and she sees Tanner Lawrence as being a hot-headed guy with a high temper? What if the future employer of my dream job spotted it and he remembers Tanner Lawrence as being immature and irresponsible.

With the extraordinary growth of social media it could be argued that it is more important now than ever to keep control of our personal brand. Our personal brand is what we are known for and what people seek us out for. That definition might be better for businesses rather than individual people but similar concepts apply. Our personal brand is what we are known for, what we stand for and basically represents the type of people we are.

As I said earlier, average people like most of us have tweeted or posted something on social media that, if not handled properly, could affect our own personal brand. However, we are not the only ones who are prone to, because of some kind of frustration, post something regrettable online. Professional athletes fall into this trap themselves sometimes. Just the other day I was scrolling through my Twitter feed on my phone. And I being a big Cleveland Browns fan follow many Browns players with hopes of feeling more connected to them. It was then when Phil Taylor’s tweet caught my attention.

The 25 year old defensive tackle from Baylor University tweeted something that I believe could have adverse effects on his personal brand, mainly because of timing. Taylor (@PhilTaylor98) tweeted:


He said this not even a week after the Boston Marathon bombing. With the courageous efforts of FBI agents and police officers, justice was able to find the suspects responsible, with one of them even being caught alive. I found the tweet insensitive, ignorant and ill-timed. Funny enough, Taylor actually deleted his original tweet before sending this one. That was only because he mistakenly used “theres” instead of “theirs.” He noticed something was wrong with his use of a word, but did not see anything wrong with the tweet in general.

Taylor would go on to interact with followers saying how it has nothing to do with the whole Boston situation and he is entitled to his own opinions. I’ll agree with Taylor that he is indeed entitled to his own opinions, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be rejected for it or it won’t affect his personal brand. To sort of put my feelings in football terms, he definitely missed the tackle with that tweet.

Now Taylor was not the first one to post something stupid on social media and he certainly won’t be the last. Athletes such as Stevie Johnson of the Buffalo Bills, Rashard Mendenhall of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United have all had a few blunders with some of the things they say online. The fallout from these mistakes could be limitless. Fines by team, fines by the professional league in which they are affiliated with, loss of fans and decrease in jerseys sold are just a few negative effects if athletes do not take a hold of their personal brand while on social media.

Social media is a powerful tool that everyone should be careful when taking advantage of. The limit of interaction we can use while using platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are capped only at what we make it. We are now closer to people even if they are thousands of miles away or in a different profession. Therefore, whether you are a CEO of a successful company, a defensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns, or a 21 year old college student at the University of Mount Union controlling your personal brand is critical while using social media. One bad tweet or post could send your life or career in a different direction, a direction that will probably be regretted later. So remember: THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET!

Bombings in Beantown: Sports and SM’s impact on the tragedy

BY Ryan Smith

First off, the entire city of Boston and the families of the wounded and passed have the deepest sympathies from those of us here at The Zone-Read.

This tragedy has affected billions across, not only the nation, but the world as well.

Social media helped spread awareness for this event as it happened live based on the #prayforboston on Twitter

Based on the Tweetreach statistics, that single hashtag alone reached as many as 308,116 accounts at one time; the world took notice on a grand scale.

Millions of people reached out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and basically every single form of SM. Think about it this way: Social Media did not exist when the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks happened, and this was nowhere near as horrific but yet half the world took notice in about half the time.

The world of sports took notice as well, with moments of silence at nearly every arena or ballpark in the US.


This photo was taken at Progressive Field as the Indians took on the Red Sox on Tuesday, April 16, one day after the bombings.

Although much of the pain was felt locally and around the US, moments of silence and recognition were held internationally too, like this one at the Arsenal – Chelsea soccer game in London.


Now time for the personal take on all of this.

I feel sorry for whoever decided to mess with the city of Boston, because they will regret it very shortly. One of the tightest, most well-loved cities in America was hit hard in an emotional way. Yet after visiting the city nearly two years ago, I can safely say that the first stanza of Tubthumping by Chumbawamba will be the mindset of every single Bostonian:

I get knocked, down but I get up again
You’re never gonna keep me down

The beauty and livelihood of such an amazing city has been torn down by such idiotic acts and tragedy, but that does not mean that Boston cannot continue to be one of the lifeblood cities of sports in America.

The Celtics play the Knicks in the first round of the NBA playoffs this Saturday, the Bruins have clinched a playoff berth for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Sox just started their promising season.

I can honestly say that no matter who I root for in my head, I know that I will be singing “Sweet Caroline” in my heart for those who can’t right now.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”