Any sports fan will tell you that the experience of watching the game is better when fellow enthusiasts are on hand. Unfortunately, it isn't always easy or possible to gather everyone around the same TV. Fortunately, SportsYapper for iPhone and iPad (free, universal) provides real-time, Twitter-like conversation just for sports fans. You can follow a team, a fan base, live games and more. Here's my look at SportsYapper.
I spoke with CEO and co-founder Eric Goldstein about the beginning of SportsYapper. He and his buddy Dave Grossman were lamenting that there wasn't a Twitter-like solution just for sports fans. A place where they could cheer and bemoan the highlights and lowlights of a given game in real time with like-minded fans. "Eventually we said, 'Why don't we just build it?'" That's exactly what they've done.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Why not just use Twitter? Or even Facebook or text?" Those are good questions and the answer, in fact, helped inspire SportsYapper. "Managing text conversations with several people during a game can be a hassle," Eric told me. "On other social media sites, you might craft a certain persona. A professional one, for example. You might not want to introduce your passionate sports tweets/updates to that service."
I'll add that some of my Twitter followers who dislike sports become annoyed with my torrent of Red Sox tweets. That's understandable, especially if I'm watching a close/important game and getting a little carried away.
SportsYapper is a welcome alternative. When you launch the app, you're prompted to log into Facebook (Eric assures me that an alternate Twitter login is coming). Fear not: you can opt to prevent the app from blasting your wall with updates. From there, you'll see four buttons across the bottom of the main screen:
- All Yapps
- Game On!
A "Yapp" is like a Tweet. Unlike Twitter, SportsYapper gives you 300 characters per update. "We didn't want fans to feel inhibited," Eric told me. "In the heat of reacting to a close call or huge score, you don't want to stop and compose a limited message." You can browse yapps from all users or just those you've designated as friends.
The Teams feature is nice. Add your favorite(s) and filter yapps accordingly. Again, you can further sort those results into friends vs. all.
Game On! is the marquee feature. To use it, tell the app which game you're watching. As you do, your friends will be alerted (Dave is watching the Red Sox vs. Yankees) and prompted to join in (this notification can be turned off). From there, enjoy the live ribbing, cheering and gnashing of virtual teeth.
The Alerts section informs you of pending friend requests (both issued and filled), while Friends lets you browse users in that category.
I watched a few games this week with fellow members of The Nation and it was a lot of fun. That sense of camaraderie was in place and I didn't feel guilty about posting a flood of updates. It's a lot of fun to know that all of the users are just as excited about the game as you are.
SportsYapper is available now from the App Store. Those who like to watch the game with far-flung friends really ought to check it out.