Bringing Fans Out Of The Dark


I am pretty surprised to say that I’m not a primary user of sports technology. I will watch a track meet live online if I can, but I don’t pay much attention to live box scores, game trackers and all the other stuff you can find these days. I will dip in on ESPN.com to catch up on scores, but that’s it.

Yet it is absolutely maddening that the timer of the NCAA Cross Country Northeast Regional could not post results of the women’s race for hours after the event was over. The race concluded before 12:30 pm and there were no official times until much later in the day. Frankly, given that it is so easy to post results, it is insulting to those who follow the sport and would like verifiable answers.

The same was true at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational earlier this fall. Even at Heps, I was able to take a photo of printed results, tweet the team scores and be the first to report Cornell’s dominance in the women’s race.

Timers beware. You should be a bit concerned about what the online consumer saw coming out of the South Central Regional in Arkansas on Friday.

What Cody Branch — the owner of Branch Sports Tech — was able to do with those results was the difference between the computer and the typewriter.

Fans were greeted by live splits, a running clock, immediate team tallies, up-and-down arrows to indicate standing in the field. It was an awesome user experience. It really isn’t much of a surprise. Branch is the one who developed the “see-it-as-it-goes” field event results at the U.S. Olympic Trials this past summer. He is also the one who provided the amazingly deep splits on the results of the Penn Relays.

That’s Branch above, surrounded by eight computers at a track meet somewhere. He’s at home there, testing out his latest developments and bringing new wrinkles for the online track fans.

Wish we’d had him covering the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic regions on Friday. Hopefully next year he may have some new disciple providing results. Timing is a-changin’ quickly and so should the timers. A guessing fan base isn’t good for the sport.

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