As Users Abandon X, Sports Twitter Endures

Hours after the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros on Monday night to advance to the World Series, Adolis García, the Rangers right fielder, posted 29 shushing-face emojis on X, the social platform once known as Twitter.

It was a message to the Astros fans who had booed him during his at-bats. Dozens of Rangers fans immediately chimed in. Sports reporters shared the post, and hundreds of other observations about the Rangers’ victory quickly followed.

Since Elon Musk bought Twitter last year, many users have abandoned the platform, spurred by a number of unpopular changes. Others have pronounced it dead.

But in the same way that many households stuck with cable for game broadcasts, sports fans and sports reporters still find X indispensable because, they say, it remains the go-to place for live updates and hot takes about coaching decisions and umpire calls.

For some journalists, abandoning thousands of followers and starting somewhere else from zero was a nonstarter. Many fans didn’t want to give up on communities where real friendships were forged among people who first interacted as strangers. And while some functions on the platform have changed, X essentially works as it always has when it comes to catching up on scores and watching highlights.

Lisa Delpy Neirotti, an associate professor of sports management at George Washington University, said sports fans had several sources for in-depth coverage, but the real-time nature of X made it an ideal place to consume game updates and breaking sports news.

“If a coach is fired, or a player is traded,” she said, “boom, I’m looking on my Twitter feed.”

Sports isn’t the only reason some people have stayed on X. Many continue to use it to post about or catch up on politics, pop culture and other topics. But sports fanatics remain among the most loyal users, accounting for about 42 percent of the X audience, according to the platform. X did not respond to requests for comment.

“Why move if you’re satisfied?” Professor Delpy Neirotti said. “People are creatures of habit, and there’s no need to move if they’re still continuing to get the content they want and need.”

One reason sports Twitter has stayed active through the tumult of the Musk era is that the alternatives that have emerged are less appealing to sports fans. Meta’s rival app, Threads, surfaces posts to a user’s feed through an algorithm rather than in real time, making live events harder to follow. Bluesky, which was funded by a Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, does show posts in reverse-chronological order, but the app remains invitation-only and is less active than Twitter.

Kennedi Landry, 25, who covers the Rangers for MLB.com, said she had noticed that some people she followed on X had left over the past year, but “it still feels like the interaction with the fan base is positive for the most part.”

In addition to interacting with readers, Ms. Landry also uses X to share links to her articles and to live-tweet during games.

“As long as it’s up and running, and it seems like I’m still interacting with the fan base in a way that’s conducive,” she said, “it just doesn’t feel necessary just yet to fully transition.”

Josiah Johnson, the host of Gil’s Arena, an N.B.A. podcast, said that despite the changes on X, his feed had stayed largely intact. Mr. Johnson said he recently signed up for Threads to see what it’s like, but with more than 260,000 followers on X, quitting isn’t easy.

“It’s hard for me to want to leave to go somewhere else and give up all that work that I’ve done,” he said. “I’m a Twitter guy. That just is what it is. I’m going to stay on the ship, regardless.”

Within the sports Twittersphere, there are smaller communities of sports fans and reporters that post regularly about a specific team or sport. There’s tennis Twitter, F1 Twitter and Yankees Twitter. And for Shannon Enty of Colleyville, Texas, there is Texas Rangers Twitter.

Ms. Enty signed up for Twitter in 2009 or 2010 to keep up with her favorite hosts on the Ticket, a sports radio station in Dallas. She said she stayed on the app to post about and keep up with her favorite baseball team.

At first, she said, “I was just sort of tweeting into the ether.”

As more people signed up for the app, Ms. Enty said she watched a community take shape. She became friends with some of those Rangers fans over time, even meeting a few in person.

“These are all people that I think initially I got in contact with because they tweeted,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine now because we’re good friends above that, but originally it was because of Rangers Twitter.”

Ms. Enty said she had noticed that some people she followed had stopped using X in recent months.

“But those people are not the sports people,” she said. “The sport tweeters just stayed.”

While many sports fans have stuck with X, some have dropped the app. Casie LaBella, 49, a Chicago native who lives in Seattle, used to use Twitter to keep up with the Chicago Bears and the Cubs.

“It was kind of like the fourth person in our family watching a game,” she said. “We’d have my husband, my son, me and my phone.”

But after Mr. Musk took over, Ms. LaBella said she became concerned about security on X. She quit the platform in the spring, and she was an early adopter of Threads, which was introduced in July. Ms. LaBella said she had enjoyed using Threads, but it’s not the same as Twitter once was.

“As humans, we want to connect with other humans, and I think that Twitter pre-Musk was a really interesting tool for doing that,” she said. “It helped us connect even though it was online.”



Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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