The 140 Character Sports Connection

Passing the 1 year blogiversary/blogbirthday last week prompted me to look back at some of my work from the early days. One of the early practices I adopted was tracking followers. Long before it became en vogue to track such things, I incorporated follower-tracking into my blog. Not so much tracking just to track but rather, tracking event-based follower increases.

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Earlier this year in NASCAR’s Daytona 500, an explosion caused a major delay of the race. While waiting, driver Brad Keselowski used the delay to take to Twitter. One of the tweets included an image, while hard to see, of the fire from the explosion.

According to Mashable.com, within two hours of Keselowski tweeting from his phone, he had gained 100,000 followers. 100,000!! That is a tremendous increase in a short amount of time.

Centered around a sporting event.

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Last year at this time, March Madness was nearing it’s pinnacle weekend: the Final Four and national championship game. Two storied programs (Kentucky vs UConn) and two ‘Cinderellas’ (Butler vs VCU). Goliath vs Goliath and David vs David. We were guaranteed a David and Goliath showdown in the championship game.

However, that wasn’t the only story taking place in college basketball. Paling in comparison but still an important story was the University of Tennessee’s hiring of new men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin. While on the surface it may not have the cache of March Madness stories, Martin replacing Bruce Pearl was a popular topic on Twitter at the time. 

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“Looking back”, Cuonzo Martin was the first person I ever tracked Twitter followers for on his accounts. That’s right, I said accounts. Back then, he had two accounts. On March 28, 2011, the day he became Tennessee’s new coach he had “@CuonzoMartin” and the now-defunct “@CuonzoLMartin”. The latter was from his tenure at Missouri State, which one can only assume he deleted. 

It’s a good thing he deleted it. For more than a week, his follower count grew on the Missouri State account from 1,713 on March 28 to 1,851 on April 4. The bio for that account even described him as the Missouri State coach. Which begged the question, What exactly do they teach in school in Tennessee? (I’m only kidding.)

As for his then-new account @CuonzoMartin, on March 28 he had 3,596. On April 4, it had grown to 4,207. Today, he has more than 17,338 followers. 

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Coach John Calipari. Coach Jim Calhoun. Coach Brad Stevens. Coach Shaka Smart. Those were our coaches for last March Madness-Final Four weekend. Two veterans and two new guys. The storylines and angles were all well-played out in the media and talkshows around the country. All except for one. Twitter followers. How did the four men stack up way back when? 

By far, the most interesting of the four were Butler coach Brad Stevens and VCU coach Shaka Smart. They were most definitely on Twitter. As of March 29, Coach Stevens had 10,089 followers while Coach Smart had 4,716. Throughout the week leading up to the Final Four, they both steadily gained followers. Finally on  April 4, Coach Stevens had 12,283 while Coach Smart wound up with 6,840

Today, @BUCoachStevens has 20,631. Coach Smart? He’s not too far behind at 19,405

And the two legends? 

I was none too sure that Coach Jim Calhoun from UConn would have a Twitter account. He does @CoachCalhoun. While it may not be a verified account, with no tweets since 2009, pretty safe to say that it’s his account. No tweets since 2009. I’m guessing he’s been a little busy the last few years. His follower numbers back on April 2 stood at 240. Today, he has 458

By far, the king of Twitter for college basketball coaches in 2011 was Kentucky Coach John Calipari. @UKCoachCalipari‘s follower numbers on April 2 exceeded the million mark at 1,133,811. Twitter now shows Calipari at 1,174,233

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Slow growth for the coaches when comparing it to the exponential growth of Brad Keselowski. The impact of Twitter is part of the story. In the context of college basketball, there’s no significant down-time during the event to make an impact like Keselowski. What he did was unique but the reaction was instant on Twitter. 

And that is the point of looking back. What once started as a novelty for me, has become an integral part of the sports story today. Whether it be media, fans, coaches or athletes, the sports story is told in each tweet in a 140 character narrative.

The narrative, no matter how small it may be, has become the connection. 


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CadChica Sports

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