So what did you do on Superbowl Sunday? Me, I was at a hackathon — not just any hackathon, but the first Sports Data Hackathon, held at the HUB in Seattle, WA. And who in hades would spend this pseudo-holiday weekend hacking on apps instead of partying in front of a television? Over 100 developers registered for the two-day sports app party, that was chock full of API platforms sponsors, prizes, tasty food, fancy coffee and craft beer.
Two Mashery platforms in the sports data space were present - ESPN (http://developer.espn.com) as an official co-sponsor, and SportsDataLLC (http://developer.sportsdatallc.com) who was making a hackathon debut. Between these two APIs was more than enough sports news, headlines and statistics to make developers’ heads spin.
The HUB Seattle
The venue is a co-working space in the truest sense of the term. The HUB has the atmospheric look and feel of a come-as-you-please hacker space, but is really geared toward membership support. The event area is on the first floor, and it’s beautiful. The lighting is warm. The building has numerous nooks and crannies to tuck yourself away for a bit of privacy. It’s a fantastic spot for a hackathon. Also, I took a little tour upstairs (it’s four floors) and it’s very nice from an office workspace perspective, as well. As hackathons go, I’m rather sensitive to the venue, because developers needs a good space that helps promote a healthy balance of group collaboration, comfort and focus. Three thumbs up to the HUB.
"Tail"-gating for Real-Time Data
Dreaming up a really great sports app usually involves integrating real-time data. But where do you go to get it? If you were at the Sports Hack Day, not very far. The Sports Data API, on the surface, may look like a static resource, with box score and play-by-play methods for past games. However, those very same methods return data on live sporting events — appended to the end as they happen, sometimes as soon as 300ms after the play is complete! For instance, on this call to the play-by-play method:
Note: parameters are 2012 - season year, PST - post season, BAL (away team, Baltimore Ravens), SF (home team, San Francisco 49ers)
Looking at the XML payload, the very first event in the first quarter was the coin-toss. The very first play was a kick-off by Justin Tucker, kicker for the Ravens.
And the very last drive of the game, unfortunately for a 49ers fan, looked like this:
The gist is that if you were building an app against this real-time data, you would simply look at the tail-end of the payload for the latest drive/play.
Latest Sports Content with the Now API from ESPN
A new API just launched form ESPN called the Now API — for the latest headline news, stories, columns, blogs, videos, recaps and more. The method lets you drill down to the sport, league and team to customize your stream. Developers that are looking to embed rich editorial or media content should check out http://developer.espn.com/docs/now … right now.
The Hack Lineup
24 teams were formed and built apps. A couple of them DNF, but the vast majority not only finished, but built very fun and creative apps across the spectrum.
- Sportrip - an app that finds the best travel (hotel, car and airfare) to your favorite sports team’s games. Built using SportsData and Hotwire APIs.
- Project Submarino - an app that performs analytics on injury data, primarily focusing on soccer (English Premier League), to help reduce injuries that are preventable. Built using the SportsData API.
- JuiceBowl - a second-screen app game made for the SuperBowl, that allows people to vote on whether they think a player is using performance-enhancing drugs. Built using the SportsData API.
- The BBQ - this team set out to build a brand new sports metric called BBQ (“Better Balanced Quotient”) for measuring American football offensive and defensive quality. Built using the SportsData API.
- Don’t Spoil Sport - if you’ve ever had to DVR a game, or catch a delayed simulcast, keeping away from spoilers is difficult. This app set out to keep you informed about sports news and scores, without spoiling the results from the game you’ve yet to watch. Built using SportsData and ESPN APIs.
- Superbowl Drinking Game - what hackathon would be complete without a drinking game? Based on real-time stats and your favorite team, this game was engineered to keep your party buzzing. Built using SportsData and Twilio APIs.
- Tell Me What to Watch - if you just can’t decide what to watch simply because there’s too much going on, this app is for you. It’s a real-time recommendation engine that factors in your favorite teams, critical games, upsets, and Twitter activity. Built using SportsData and Rovi Cloud Services APIs.
- Callin’ It - a fun second-screen real-time game that pits you against your friends for predicting the outcome of individual player stats, plays and games. Built using SportsData API.
Mashery chose “Tell Me What to Watch” for Best API Integration Hack. Robbie and his team ran away with Jawbone Up wristbands. Their app utilized APIs unique from the others, mashing up real-time sports data and television schedules.
The overall winner of the Sports Hack Day event, as selected but he jury, was “Project: Submarino”. Their use of player injury data from SportsData’s APIs was unique, and their execution was phenomenal.
And a Couple More Winners to Announce
Sports Hack Day was a really great event. Carter Rabasa (Twilio) and Jon Roony (Splunk) put this event together in a completely organic way, and kept it focused on the developers. From the food, to the drinks, and the venue, and interspersed entertainment, these guys hit it out of the park. Big thanks to Twilio, Splunk, and Google for being the main sponsors. Also, thanks to ESPN, SendGrid, Tokbox, Cloudant, Apptentive, AWS and Adobe for supporting the event. And last but not least, thanks to Tougo Coffee for kick-starting every morning with the most delicious brews.
Photos from Mashery available on Flickr.