Why banning iPads at baseball games doesn't matter

I'm a satisfied iPad owner and have always been an advocate for the device's usefulness to sports fans. In a perfect world, they'd be the idyllic accompaniment to a ballgame. As things stand now, they're almost useless. Honestly, there's no use fretting about other stadiums doing as Yankee Stadium did and banning the device. Here's a few reasons why:

  • A majority of stadiums don't offer wifi. This, in itself, is a huge problem if stadiums want fans to share their experience with others. Up until recently, the wifi version of the iPad was the only one available. If one wanted to enjoy the great content put out by the MLB AtBat App, they couldn't. If one wanted to do anything other than look at photos or listen to music, they couldn't. Now, Apple does offer the 3G version but that's equally useles. Why?
  • The AT&T network is a joke at sporting events. Any iPhone-using sports fan has experienced this. When too many people group together in a small area, AT&T's services breaks down completely. So, even if one were to have a 3G iPad, it'd be as useless as a wifi iPad without wifi. The network is so bad that phone calls and texts have trouble getting in and out; no reason to think audio, video and other media would be available over the shoddy network. 
  • The MLB AtBat audio is always behind. So maybe your stadium does have wifi or the network is less terrible than normal and you'd like to listen to the audio on your iPad—tough. The audio is always ridiculously behind the game action. When one isn't at the stadium, this lagging audio paired with the AtBat visuals that spoil the action before you can hear is even more annoying.
  • There isn't a stable and reliable Twitter app. In my mind, Tweetdeck is the best iPad Twitter application out right now and it's moderately terrible. I often abandon my iPad when trying to follow commentary for a sporting event on Twitter. The updates are always behind, the app crashes and doesn't operate with the fluidity of its desktop or iPhone counterpart. If you think using Twitter during a sporting event isn't worthwhile, you've never tried it. I've been to 10 Mariners games so far this season and have monitored this list constantly on my phone at every game.
  • No multitasking. This is the biggest and most obvious complaint against iPads (and iPhones). Even if I could do all the things I wanted to do, I couldn't do them at once. I couldn't watch highlights and have my Twitter list updating. Can't use an app to keep score and check game stories. It's obnoxious. While the MLB audio app can run in the background, nothing else can.

And for everyone who says "why would you want an iPad at a baseball game anyway?": you've been to a baseball game right? The amount of downtime is huge compared to other sports and I'd rather be entertained by a deeper level of insight and content than blooper reels or other jumbotron promotions provide. Quick list of things I'd use the iPad for at a game:

  • Radio
  • Keeping score
  • Video
  • Twitter
  • Blog game threads
  • A media guide app

For fans, and journalists especially, the iPad could be a great device to have at a ballgame. But right now it isn't.

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