While visiting relatives over Christmas I was faced with the rather grim prospect of being in New York, where the New England-Miami game was locally blacked out.
A generation ago I would have been forced to wait for halftime updates during the Jets-Giants games, but Twitter and a slew of apps designed specifically for sports fans allowed me to follow the game in real time (I also got to watch the Jets lose, which wasn't a half-bad consolation prize).
But these apps aren't just for when you can't watch the game -- they're great supplements when you're glued to the television or in the stadium and worth downloading before the NFL Playoffs kickoff on Saturday, as they help cut through a lot of the clutter and deliver the information most relevant in helping you understand (or vent) about what's happening on the field.
I've had some minor problems with this app crashing since I downloaded it to my iPhone 4 just before week 15, but otherwise, it has been my go-to app to see what other people are saying on Twitter as the game I'm watching (or not watching, as the case may be) progresses. The app offers game previews and real-time team and player stats, but where it really excels is in displaying relevant tweets.
SportCaster filters tweets by team, and it does an incredibly good job of filtering out the noise and keeping the content game-focused (as a Patriots fan, I've had more than enough of non-football related tweets from the likes of Chad Ochocinco). The app is made by OneLouder, perhaps best known as the maker of TweetCaster, a Twitter management client.
For fans who want to take their app additions one step further -- and don't mind signing up for yet another social network -- PlayUp offers an app that, at first glance is similar to SportCaster. The main difference, however, is PlayUp works more like a mobile social network for sports fans. Instead of culling tweets from Twitter, like SportCaster, PlayUp let's you discuss the game with friends and "friends" you've added.
I have not -- admittedly -- had a chance to use PlayUp's app while watching a game as of yet (and that's my fault, as PlayUp says it offers coverage for about 20,000 games each week, including the four major U.S. sports, Major League Soccer and Australian Rules Football). I plan to do so with Saturday's Stanley Cup Finals rematch between Boston and Vancouver, but I have to admit it takes a lot these days to convince me to join another social network. And if I wanted knuckleheaded, amateur, armchair quarterback-type comments, there are usually plenty of those in the living room or sports bar where I'm watching the game.
Not an app, but an actual person with close to 40,000 Twitter followers. Pereira is the former vice president of officiating for the NFL and the current rules analyst for FOX Sports. When - not if - there is a questionable call in this weekend's games, Pereira will most likely be the first to offer a clear-cut, unbiased explanation of the rule behind the call in 140 characters or less.