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Thursday, August 19, 2010
Updated: August 25, 11:44 AM ET
Fill us in about filling that cup

By Ryan Corazza
Special to ESPN.com

It's rare that sports fans are privy to first-hand accounts of athlete drug tests via traditional media channels. But on Twitter, Lance Armstrong has often groused about the frequency with which he's been tested.

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong let his followers know how upset he was before the Tour de France.

"Pull up to the hotel and drug testers waiting," he wrote on June 22, while previewing courses in Europe in anticipation of last month's Tour de France. "Two agencies as well! AFLD and the UCI. Nice communication guys."

And leave it to social-media user extraordinaire Chad Ochocinco to give us another first-hand account from NFL training camp.

The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver tweeted this photo of a note taped to his locker, alerting him to the fact he had been selected for a random drug test on Tuesday.

But in typical Ocho fashion, he talked up himself in the process.

"Ok, why does the NFL continue to test me, all I do is piss excellence for them each time," he tweeted with the photo.

Font of material

Shortly after "The Decision," Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert released a scathing letter on the team's website blasting LeBron James.

Many thought that such a letter coming from the owner of the organization was unprofessional and in poor taste. Gilbert was subsequently fined $100,000 for his remarks by the league.

And on the Web, there was also a lot of good-natured ribbing about the font Gilbert used for the letter: Comic Sans.

Though the choice made sense as far as giving the letter a handwritten feel, Comic Sans is often mocked online as an outdated and cartoonish font.

Dan Gilbert
Gilbert

And Gilbert appears to have seen some of the jokes.

When tweeting about the new Cavs uniforms -- which were coincidentally unveiled during a "tweetup" Tuesday at the Cadillac Ranch bar in Cleveland-- Gilbert wrote: "Anyone know if Twittr will be offering Comic Sans font option soon? Cuz this Lucida Grande is killing me..btw new @cavs unis r in Comic Sans."

It's not much, but perhaps it's a sign that Gilbert is now comfortable poking some fun at himself after receiving a lot of criticism about the letter -- online and off.

Geolocation options multiply

When I wrote about geolocation in May, it was described as an emerging technology still in its infancy. But Facebook's latest feature could be changing that.

On Wednesday evening, the social-networking platform announced its long-anticipated foray into geolocation with a feature called Places.

Also this week, ESPN Passport -- a platform that allows fans to keep track of sporting events they attend, document them and compete with other fans to become the "captain" of their favorite team -- released an iPhone app that uses geolocation check-in functionality. Once checked in, users can get real-time game stats, among other bells and whistles. It's available for download at the iTunes store.

Facebook's Places will allow a user to check in to businesses and the like, as did its predecessors including Foursquare and Gowalla.

But the takeaway is that geolocation is no longer just available via the aforementioned startups; Facebook's enormous 500 million-plus users will soon have check-in power at their fingertips.

And that has value in the sports world.

"Facebook Places has changed [geolocation] from allowing really early tech adopters to participate to allowing the complete masses to participate," said Mike Germano, co-founder of Carrot Creative, a new media agency that lists the NFL and MLB among its clients. "Once Facebook Places is completely rolled out, you now have 40 percent of the people entering your stadium with the chance to check in, instead of less than 1 percent with Foursquare and Gowalla."

Germano also said teams could use stadium check-in data from Places to offer some online incentives to fans.

On the athlete side, players could check in to an endorser's location, publicizing the business in fans' Facebook news feeds. It's one more way to leverage a player's growing number of online followers -- which stretch into the millions for some.

"Checking in adds credibility to a place because that Places location will always have that a celebrity checked in there," Germano said. "Where in the past a famous bar might have all the pictures of players that were there, now you have a Facebook Places location with all the icons of people that have actually checked in there. It gives the players the opportunity to have a digital record of where they've gone, and that's positive for their personal endorsements."

But, as with all social media, Germano said athletes do need to use caution regarding where and when they're checking in, as potential unwanted attention could arise.

Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.

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