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.

Seattle Times: Twitter a 'big player' in Major League Baseball

Over the weekend, The Seattle Times ran a story on Twitter's rising prominence in Major League Baseball and how noticeable it was at the winter meetings. Now, I realize it's every couple days that a major media outlet runs a story on Twitter's rising popularity but every now and then they contain an interesting nugget of information like this:

GMs have long been known to exploit the rumor mill, attempting to make people believe there is plenty of trade interest in a certain player when there might not be any. It's the same with player agents who will whisper about interest in their clients by a specific team before they even contact that club's general manager.

The difference is that, in the past, it might have taken weeks for rumors to circulate by word-of-mouth about a certain player or team. Now, a whisper from one team executive or player agent can be distributed across the country in a matter of seconds via Twitter.

"If I came to these meetings and had a client nobody cared about, of course I'd use this stuff to get his name out there," said one agent, who wanted to be anonymous. "One minute, there's zero market for his services and then, five minutes later, the perception is that you've got five teams banging down your door."

Last week I wrote about Twitter's ability to spread rumors and create more smoke than actual fire, it makes sense that someone would use this effect to their advantage.

And as I wrote before, it's key that journalists adapt and identify what is simply rumor and what has the potential to be fact. Journalists can't run with a rumor based on a few Tweets, one has to consider the source of the information—not Twitter itself, but the individual accounts the information is coming from. Much the same as any other source, one has to consider whether the source chooses to remain anonymous, appears to be someone in the know and has provided credible information in the past.