Sarah-Jane Morris | Technical Writer and Developer Community Manager
November 14, 2012

espnW Shatters Stereotypes at Hack Day


The typical stereotype of a Hakathon is a room full of mostly male developers building a mixed bag of hacks, with no specific theme, through a patchwork of APIs and resources.  These stereotypes were shattered at the espnW hack day which combined women, technology and sports, November 9-10 at Stanford University.

This hackathon was the vision of espnW with support from Mashery, who wanted to create an event highlighting women in technology and sports to see what amazing things they could build together.

Some impressive and inspiring speakers kicked off the event Friday night, including Gina Bianchini, co-founder of Ning and founder of MightyBell. Here she is setting the stage for innovation and inspiration: 


Over 200 developers attended (70% were female), representing top-tier APIs including FacebookTwitterYouTube, Twilio and ESPN which resulted in 20 amazing hacks.

The best of these hacks addressed real-world problems in the worlds of female athletes and athletics. Here are some of our favorites:


One of the more amusing hacks built at #hackespnW was “DOES PARKING SUCK?” which solved the problem of trying to find parking during a sporting event. You enter in the name of your city and the ESPN API, “DPS” searches for events near you. You know if there is a game happening, parking is going to suck. The team also included links to parking videos on YouTube to flesh out the experience. Who doesn’t like videos of dogs parking


Fangrid was created by one of the few all-male teams, but we figured we would show them some love since their hack was awesome. Fangrid offers sports fans of lesser-known teams an online gathering place to fuel excitement for their teams while watching live games/events. Users log in via Facebook connect and Fangrid detects which teams the user is a fan of. Event rooms are created on a daily basis as the ESPN API is data-mined for schedules and event information. Video chat (up to 16 simultaneous feeds, provided by OpenTok) provides a channel for shared enthusiasm similar to that found in a crowded bar on game day. A Twitter feed pulls in the latest tweets based on event tags (team names, team cities), and a chatroom facilitates real-time interaction as exciting moments happen. If a fan arrives online early, they can enter in their phone number to be notified by SMS (via Twilio) 10 minutes prior to the start of the event. Users on the Fangrid iPad app, are automatically checked  into the stadium where the event is taking place, via Facebook. Once the event is over, the video from the event is uploaded to YouTube  for posterity. Kudos to this team for pulling off such next-level API mashing in such a short period of time.


iSports was a knock out. Not only did these Carnegie Mellon all-stars pick up the Jawbone Jambox for the best use of the Mashery API, they won the event. The team took home the top prize of a trip to Bristol, Connecticut for a tour of the ESPN headquarters, as well as a ticket the a regular season sports event of their choice.

This team tackled a common problem. You’re watching sports with a loved one, but you have no idea who the athletes are, and are too embarrassed to ask. What to do? As one of the team members, Pooja, said during the demo, “Don’t get dumped, use iSports!” iSports uses complex facial recognition algorithms to detect athlete’s faces in video and provide information about them. This team combined several data points from Mashery APIs (including ESPN, Klout and Appinions), data from Twitter and video from YouTube. They knocked it out of the park.

Coverage in Wired and Michelle Glauser’s on the BlogHer network  confirm espnW Hack Day was a success. We are thrilled this was the first hackathon for 85% of attendees and to hear people are excited for more events like this in the future – shattering stereotypes one hackathon at a time.

Check out all of the espnW Hack Day photos on our flickr account.