Dave Lozo’s Informative and Condescending Guide to Live-Tweeting Sporting Events
Hi. I’m Dave Lozo. In the not too distant past, I mastered Twitter. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but like Michael Jordan in basketball, Daniel Day-Lewis in acting and Darren Rovell in copying and pasting press releases from corporations, I reached the pinnacle. There isn’t a single aspect of the unbelievably awful social media platform that I have not conquered.
That’s why I’m here today to talk to you about live-tweeting sporting events, a necessary part of most sports journalists’ lives. You’re at a game, stuff happens, then you describe what happens in 140 characters or fewer via tweet. A person scores a touchdown or a goal or hits a 3-pointer or a home run, that journalist is there to tell you about it.
You should stop doing that. Immediately.
This guide will provide many lessons. That’s the first one. Stop doing that. It sucks. But that lesson is just the tip of the iceberg, the epicenter from which many other lessons will emanate.
I used to be like you. I would type cold, uninteresting descriptions and I would not stop. Look, I did stuff like this for years before I received help.
Holy crap. Look at that. LOOK AT IT. I describe in detail a play that led to absolutely nothing and I also failed to identify the defenseman, a penalty, a goal (that’s OK), then I explain the goal (that’s not OK; just wait until you know who scored), then another goal, then I actually tweet that the period is starting. I was the worst, I tell you.
That’s why it’s up to me, a recovered chronic live-tweeter, to help the rest of the sports world stop torturing their followers.
Rule No. 1: Live-tweeting games you are not attending
If you’re thinking about live-tweeting a game that you are not attending, find the “log off” button on Twitter dot com and click it. There, you are now logged off and unable to provide play-by-play from your god damned couch.
First of all, just the principle of the thing. You’re not there. You’re relaying facts from your TV. Do movie critics watching Lifetime do this?
"Jennifer Love-Hewitt is being abused, but she just faked her death and is assuming a new identity."
"Jennifer Love-Hewitt is plotting revenge by stalking her husband, who believes her to be dead."
"Jennifer Love-Hewitt has met a man in the small town in which she’s hiding. He has a muscly chest and is kind."
"Jennifer Love-Hewitt is lifting weights and having flashbacks to her abuse. That training song from ‘Rocky’ is playing."
"Jennifer Love-Hewitt has exacted revenge and found love. The credits are now rolling."
If you’re watching on TV and want to add things like, “Wow, I can’t get over Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s acting in this scene. Very strong. I also like her hair.” then go for it. Otherwise there is no point. OUR EYES WORK SO THANKS FOR PROVING YOUR EYES WORK TOO.
Second of all, if you’re watching on TV, you are watching on a seven-second delay in most cases. Therefore, not only are you tweeting things like, “Kings score. 1-0 Kings in the first period.” but you’re doing it seven seconds after the people in the arena are doing it.
Stop doing this. Go outside. Smell a flower. Watch a sunset. But don’t tweet about it as you are doing it.
Rule No. 2: Please go back and read Rule No. 1
Seriously. You’re not there. Stop it.
Rule No. 3: Consider the importance of the game and how much you are tweeting about it
I’ve covered a few preseason hockey games. I’m usually there because I want to talk to a player afterward about something unrelated to the game, which is a preseason game, which is a fancy way of calling it a scrimmage, in that it is meaningless and really not worth watching.
Yet there are people who will hammer the in-game tweets down your throat for two-plus hours as if it is Game 82 and the winner goes to the playoffs and the loser goes home.
Maybe you’re saying, “Dave, there are people out there who follow me and want that information.” And I bet that’s true. But there are way more who don’t want it and the people who do want that information are probably watching the game anyway and don’t really need it.
If your backup argument is sometimes preseason games aren’t on television, well, that should tell you something about their importance.
But if you think 36 tweets from a preseason game is bad, consider the people who send 36 tweets from an intrasquad rookie camp scrimmage.
That’s not a joke. People cover rookie camps and tweet everything happening in the game, a game that features players who could very well be made-up and will never see the light of day in the NHL.
"Gorzenfeffer with a big face-off win against Larsnek. Blue and White tied 0-0 four minutes into the first period."
"Branzterd with a great pass to Jimrodberg, who buries it to make it 1-0 Blue."
"Period over. Blue up 1-0. Ice being shoveled."
"Now it’s Dickles and Fartimus converting a 2-on-1 past Niplord to bring White into a 1-1 tie."
"Correction to an earlier tweet: On Jimrodberg’s goal, add a secondary assist to Mixuhlaht."
If you are live-tweeting these games in this fashion, which you are, you are serving no purpose to anyone. At events like this, you want to offer commentary about key players, or talk about how someone is really standing out.
This is OK:
"Branzterd has looked really good in this scrimmage. Explosive speed and good hands. Very strong on the puck."
This is not OK:
"Branzterd called for tripping. Power play White midway through the second."
Commentary is always good at these types of events. That brings us to Rule No. 4.
Rule No. 4: When live-tweeting a game, commentary, insights and jokes are your friend
It is 2014. Heck, it’s July 2014, which means if we round up, it’s 2015. We are 15 percent of the way into the 21st century. I asked my phone to find me Mexican food in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago and you know what my phone did? IT SPOKE TO ME.
We, my friends, are living in the future. We are living in a Star Trek movie.
That’s another reason why live-tweeting games is so incredibly useless, as you can watch games on TV, your phone, your iPad or your microwave. Actually, I don’t know if you can watch sports on your microwave and I’m not sure if there’s a mobile microwave yet, but there should be. If I could heat up some Hot Pockets while watching Blues-Wild on the train, that’d be great. Get on that, GE.
Whatever, you can watch games virtually anywhere at this stage of the 21st century.
So ask yourself, “Who am I serving with 25-30 tweets that simply describe what 99 percent of the people who follow you on Twitter are also seeing at the same time as me?” You’re serving people on trains who wish mobile microwaves existed.
And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there. Twitter updates are about a minute ahead of any GameCenter app, so it’s great hearing about goals, touchdowns, home runs and final scores right away. But there are so many things that occur during a game, hockey or otherwise, that we don’t need filling our timelines.
The following is a list of factual things you should tweet about, an airtight list that is non-negotiable.
* Goals, Runs, Touchdowns, Field Goals, Safeties, i.e. scoring plays
* Turnovers in NFL games
* Pitching changes in baseball games
* Any and all ejections
* Literally nothing that ever happens in an NBA game**
* Injuries that result in a player leaving the game
* When periods or quarters are over, obviously games over too
* Drunk fights in the stands and/or arrests
(** - to be fair, I can’t think of anything that happens in an NBA game that is worthy of live-tweeting. Maybe ejections and guys fouling out? There are about 200 points in a game and the final two minutes take 11 hours, so it’s not even worth it to tweet end-game situations. So let’s just pretend basketball doesn’t exist on Twitter dot com)
Everything beyond that is superfluous, especially in hockey. Oh, is a team on a power play? Who cares? Oh, was there a big hit? Well there’s only about 40-60 hits in a game, so again, who cares? Was there a fight? Unless it’s between fans in the stands, it carries no relevance.
Remember: Every sports team has a Twitter and all of them tweet the minutiae of every single game. Icings, offsides, dunks, hits, walks, kickoffs, timeouts…you can’t compete with the audience they have and the volume of crap they tweet, so don’t. Set yourself apart by choosing not to regurgitate play-by-play from a game just about everyone who follows you is watching anyway.
Here’s what you do: add value
A dude drives in a run, scores a goal, has 18 points at halftime, whatever. You should not just tweet that a dude drove in a run, or scored a goal, or has 18 points at halftime. We see that. We have box scores on the Internet.
Tweet about how the guy broke out of a slump or how he has been working to hit the ball the other way with his hitting coach. Tweet about how the guy who scored was put on a new line by the coach and it paid dividends. Tweet about how the guy with 18 points hasn’t scored that many in game since 2012.
Or heck, just tweet jokes. Or tweet general observations about how a team or player looks. Operating as a bad play-by-play person on a 45-second delay is boring, useless and does nothing for your readership and more importantly annoys me and this guide is all about making my Twitter dot com experience better.
I know a lot of people in this business who I find amusing who are somehow rarely amusing on Twitter. I say go for it. Be you. Embrace you. We will all embrace you too.
Rule No. 5: Odds and ends about the live-tweeting of games
1. Stop rushing to tweet who scored a goal. Yes, you should tweet that. But no, “Kopitar 1-0” at light speed ruins it for everyone following along on the NHL’s incredibly way behind real time GameCenter device and sometimes even the people watching on a seven-second delay on NBCSN.
Take a breath. It’s not a race. As stated earlier, wait two minutes, add some value to the information everyone else in the world has.
2. This is like rule No. 1, but it applies to NHL shootouts.
Has your Twitter feed ever looked like this at the end of a shootout?
"Selanne scores, Ducks win shootout"
If it has, stop. Stop doing this. It’s a god damned shootout worth one (1) extra point to the winner. None of the goals count for real. Recounting every shot on goal from the actual game makes more sense. If you think that looks bad, realize you and four other people are doing the exact same thing. It looks like someone unraveled a scroll with a list of names on it.
Also, and this goes back to broadcast delays, you’re ruining the shootout for people who are watching it on TV and online. Yeah, I know, close down Twitter and watch if you don’t want it spoiled. Well, this isn’t an episode of Game of Thrones and I’m not on Twitter at 9:25 wondering why people are tweeting about Brienne killing The Hound. It’s a dumb hockey shootout that only requires you to tell everyone who won it when it’s over.
3. Are you covering a playoff game? Is it loud in the building? Well, no kidding. It’s a playoff game. Unless you want to tell everyone how many decibels it is and how it compares to the loudness in that building at the same moment during a regular season game, this is the least interesting tweet in the business.
Hopefully this helps make Twitter better for everyone. There’s probably things I’m forgetting to list, too. We should all work on this stuff, myself included.
Until the government does the right thing and shuts down Twitter, removing it from all of our lives forever, this will help us all.