Sasha Kamenetska | Contributor
April 25, 2013

Sports & APIs – A Perfect Fit


With the baseball season now in full swing, the NBA playoffs underway and the Stanley Cup playoffs right around the corner, it is an exciting time for sports.  And for sports APIs.  In the past few months, there have been a number of exciting events that have brought sports data and sports APIs to center stage.

Sports are the perfect use case for APIs.  In a sports game, leads can change every minute, big plays can happen in a second and an injury can end a team’s dream of a championship in an instant.  If you are building an app that focuses on sports, you need to have immediate access to updated data.  That is why sports data API programs have flourished: ESPN, SportsData, and even the MLBAM are offering sports data through their API.

And it seems that hackathon organizers have also realized the potential.  This February, Sports Hack Day was held over 48 hours in Seattle the weekend of the Super Bowl.  The event was presented by Google, Twilio and splunk and sponsored by ESPN and Mashery, among others.

Some the apps built included “Tell Me What to Watch” which used SportsData and Rovi Cloud Services APIs to suggest what sporting event you should watch based on your favorite teams, Twitter activity, upsets, etc.  Other apps included a second-screen real-time game that let’s you challenge your friends in predicting sports related outcomes and a sports news app that lets you block out updates relevant to a game that you have DVR’d and will be watching later.  You can find a full recap of the event here.

Back in November, ESPN sponsored a women’s only hackathon called espnW Hack Day.  And this March, there was a flurry of activity around sports APIs, with the Boston Baseball Hack Day, as well as Bases Coded, a sports gaming developer challenge by MLBAM, the internet and interactive arm of the MLB.  The challenge started in March and for the first time, the MLBAM gave access to its private API to all registered participants.  Selected finalists will present their projects during Internet Week NY this May. 

And to round out this flurry of activity, this weekend in Boston, there is TVnext Hack.  Although the event is focused on TV, sports will undoubtedly be involved (ESPN is a sponsor), because what goes better together than TV and sports?  As Chuck Freedman, Director of Platform Strategy here at Mashery put it, “for sports data and stats, it's all about a contextual experience-knowing what the user is watching and adding a companion experience with additional, real time statistics”.

All in all, sports have definitely arrived in the API age.  With such a rich set of data already available from the likes of SportsData and others via APIs, the number of sports related apps will continue to grow quickly.  Sports fans can rejoice: their every sports whim will soon be fulfilled thanks to sports data APIs and the developers out there who spend their weekends hacking.  Sports and APIs – what a great fit.

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