Sport has always been something that most people follow actively. In the previous century, getting up to date with your favoured sport required you to studiously read the newspaper every day or try and catch Grandstand and Match of the Day at the weekend.
But then the internet happened, changing our whole dynamic with sport. What was once something that you could only interact with at certain intervals – i.e. when the newspaper came out, or when the news or a match was shown on television or broadcast on radio – became something that you could constantly engage with whenever you were next to a computer. The internet and computers were one thing but the advances in mobile technology since the first iPhone was released in 2007 brought us even closer to the sporting world. First we received 3G, helping us to connect to the online world when out and about. Then came 4G, which is faster than most computers. By 2020 we should see 5G operational mobiles.
The biggest thing to come out of this mobile revolution has to be the downloadable apps. The gaming world was shocked to its core and its appearance has changed drastically since the advent of mobile gaming. Mobiles have practically killed Nintendo, who have seemingly conceded defeat after allowing their back catalogue of games to be available for purchase on iOS and Android. But the gaming industry is just one of many that has been changed, with sport being another.
Below we look at how mobile apps have entered into the realm of sport, how they have affected it and whether they are beneficial or disruptive to the sporting institutes.
It is natural that we look at apps that are tied in with certain events. As a whole these are hugely beneficial, bringing those interested up to date with the latest events in a matter of minutes. With all major tournaments comes an official app. The hotly anticipated Wimbledon tennis event comes with a tie-in application, as did the football World Cup of 2014, and so will the upcoming Rugby World Cup. What makes these sorts of mobile applications beneficial is that a person who is interested in the upcoming Rugby World Cup can just look on the app and find out everything they need to know in one place, rather than scrolling through varying websites looking for scraps of news.
Applications like these are also very good for checking fixtures, results and tables. But arguably the best thing they have going for them is their exclusive content, whether that be an interview with Andy Murray, one of the favorites to win the upcoming Wimbledon tournament, or Stuart Lancaster, the coach of the England national rugby union side who are at the time of writing priced at 9/2 in the rugby betting to win the tournament. Having coincided mobile apps is of great use if you are a follower of more obscure sports. The Tour de France isn’t an obscure sport, as the people of Yorkshire can attest to, but it can be somewhat neglected by major websites, something that would obviously never happen on the official Tour de France application, which serves as a fantastic news aggregator.
Twitter has changed a lot of things in society. It has moved the goalposts, so to speak, in the sporting world. The ability to follow select people allows sports fans to tailor what they see on their homepage. You can follow players from your favored teams as well as sports journalists. No news breaks quicker than it does on Twitter. Because of this, newspapers make stories out of what sporting stars say, while journalists leak certain information, using it as a carrot to get interested parties to read their entire story.
Little break in the (writing) holidays. Ramos buyout clause is €200 million. Real Madrid is not selling. He wants a better contract
— GuillemBalague (@GuillemBalague) June 22, 2015
The news is one thing, but Twitter helps give fans a 360° experience of the sporting world. We will use the Champions League – football’s most prestigious club competition – as an example. It is a Tuesday afternoon and you are sitting in your office, you check Twitter for team news and then fail to leave the social platform for the rest of the evening as you eagerly check over your main page, combing for any tweets from relevant players, journalists, and betting companies about the action to follow. Once the action starts, you can engage in conversation with fellow people watching the game via hashtags. If you are not watching the game then you can use Twitter to find key highlights in a short space of time. Following the game you can read what your players have made of the performance as well as what other non-involved professionals make of proceedings – amazingly football players actually watch football. All of this brings the average fan closer to their favored sporting stars as well as fellow fans. Instagram is another social media platform that helps the fan delve deeper into the current developments of their favored team or sports stars.
But the biggest way Twitter has changed things is the way we interact with sports stars. There once was a time that the only way you would be able to have a conversation with a sports star was by bumping into them. Nowadays you can simply tweet them, and if you tweet them at the right time you may just get a response. Rio Ferdinand is brilliant for this.
RT @johnny8ball82@rioferdy5 overpriced NOW? You were £30m in 2002!!! ?listen…. Like L’Oréal – I’m worth it!!
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 22, 2015
Betting and sport are intrinsically linked. It is a bond that goes back to the Gladiatorial days of Ancient Rome. Betting itself is as far reaching as Ancient Greece. As the sporting world has modernized, so too the betting industry. The mobile application revolution has seen many people download betting applications to their phone, which has changed the way we bet. Thanks to mobile’s instantaneous ability to process a bet, betting companies can now offer in-play betting on most major sports. This is an idea that would have been seen as a novelty five years ago.
Due to the cheaper costs of mobile betting, more companies are entering the market, meaning that betting operators are having to be aggressive in their marketing, sign-up bonuses, and differentiation tactics. A classic example of attempted differentiation was the creation of the Cash Out feature, which proved extremely popular, prompting other companies to follow suit.
So what sort of effect are mobile applications having on the world of sport?
You would be slightly delusional to say that mobile applications have not bettered our sporting enjoyment. Mobile phones bring fans and teams much closer together, getting rid of that invisible barrier that had been in place for the past 30 years – that can only be a good thing. From a betting perspective, companies have cheaper overheads and can now offer enticing sign-up bonuses to all potential clients, as well as innovative in play betting. And then there is the news side of things, which has been considerably improved since mobile applications hit the market. Over time these mobile applications can only bring us even closer to the action, which to us fans is great news. Whether the players feel the same is a different matter.