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7 apps, websites, and stadiums at the forefront of sports media innovation

Tensions have run high between Kansas City and the Bay Area ever since those plucky west Missourians earned the honor of being city number one for Google Fiber installation, overshadowing the less publicized beta launch on Stanford’s campus. That history is sure to motivate the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals as they clash in this year’s World Series, starting tonight.

Well, maybe not, but we’ll use the occasion as an excuse to talk sports – namely, sports media, a landscape long dominated by that fratty, four-lettered behemoth from Bristol, Connecticut known as ESPN. From new broadcasting formats to futuristic stadiums to an athletes-only publication, we’ve got the lowdown on how sports media are finally escaping the shackles of complacency.

Players’ Ball

The dawn of Twitter brought with it something novel for sports fans: unfettered, instant access to many of their favorite athletes’ thoughts. Derek Jeter’s newly launched sports journal, The Players’ Tribune, gives athletes a new platform – an online magazine with a staff of athlete essayists. Since soft-launching at the start of October, Players’ Tribune pieces have addressed topics from domestic violence to Donald Sterling, offering thoughtful takes on hot-button issues in place of careful interview answers and publicist statements.

Voices In Your Head

A few months ago, we reported on SecondMic, which lets fans choose which broadcaster (or podcaster) they listen to during a game instead of being stuck with subpar commentators. With TOK.tv, enjoying an alternative audio feed while watching the game becomes participatory. Up to four remotely scattered friends can audio chat while browsing the app’s interface for game updates. Suddenly, watching your hometown team from across the country becomes a bit less lonely.

All In The Community

If Facebook is like a giant high school cafeteria, think of FanCred as the locker room (sans nudity). The iOS app creates a digital scrapbook for sports fans to share their excitement and exasperation in real time. On the other side of the spectrum, social networks for aspiring athletes are also cropping up – FieldLevel helps four-year college coaches connect with high school and junior college coaches in the recruiting process, and BeRecruited serves as a LinkedIn for aspiring college athletes.

Crowd Fun

A day out at the stadium is rife with tradition – the same chants, the same lines, the same overpriced hot dogs. Levi’s Stadium, the new stadium of the San Francisco 49ers, is changing all that. In-house apps enable line tracking, food and beverage delivery, and streaming video of other games in action. The public reception has been mixed due to various bugs, and there’s still no app for inadequate leg room, but other stadiums are sure to follow the tech-ready model.

Now go forth (and stop talking about your fantasy team).

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