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Twitter helps fans follow local teams

The sentence you're reading, right now, is 140 characters, the maximum length of a communiqué sent via the social networking medium Twitter.

You've probably heard of Twitter. Since 2006, people have used it to share short messages, called tweets, with each other via computer or smartphone. It's akin to signing up for tiny newsletters, and it's quite popular.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch uses it to disseminate strong, sometimes venomous opinions to his 212,170 followers.

Pop singer Justin Bieber uses it to, allegedly, disseminate a partial phone number, resulting in collateral number-pad damage for his 19,432,741 followers.

As far as sports go, it's one of the quickest ways to get real-time updates about ongoing games.

"I use Twitter to update our score and what's going on at the very end of a game," said Ann Pickrell, social media manager for the Prescott Valley-based Arizona Sundogs. "I update it using my phone from the Zamboni tunnel - it's really mobile."

During the Sundogs' March 24 season closer - a 3-2 home-game win over the Rapid City Rush - Pickrell tweeted more than 20 messages, including starting lineups, goals, penalties and recaps.

Here are a few of the announcer-like highlights:

"The Sundogs head to the locker room up 2-0 on the Rapid City Rus. SOG favor the Dogs 20-14 and we have the powerplay advantage, 6-4."

"Limpright scores 30 seconds into the third on the powerplay to cut the Sundogs lead to 2-1."

"Four minutes later, Limpright scores again, tying the score 2-2. 13 minutes left in the game"

"The Sundogs pull ahead! 3-2 with 10 left in the game on Smyth's second goal of the night!"

Pickrell was surprised by which tweets were re-posted by some of the team's 1,021 followers this season.

"It's mostly the recaps, which is just basic information," she said. "I guess that's the most straight-forward, quickest way to get it out."

Multiple Sundogs players have their own Twitter accounts, too, and the medium helps maintain excitement during long road-game stretches, Pickrell said.

Brett Murdock, a Northern Arizona University senior and senior sports reporter for the NAU Lumberjack, said Twitter is one of, if not the, quickest ways to get sports scores.

"ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times - they all use it to report on breaking news," said Murdock, who often uses it while covering basketball or football games. "My suggestion is to check it out first and see how people use it and what they do with it before you sign up."

You can have an account, which is free, without posting, simply to read others' comments, or follow them, for instance.

In terms of sports, Twitter is all about accessibility.

"About a month ago I was covering an NAU basketball game for the Lumberjacks, and while I was updating the game to my followers, I was also checking on the Missouri-Kansas game," said Murdock, whose account has 168 followers.

Some Twitter accounts are established, updated sporadically, then sit in limbo.

"You know, I'm embarrassed to say it, but I haven't figured out how to use it yet," said Brad Clifford, assistant athletic director at Yavapai College. "I don't know enough about it or how it's used - that's probably the most daunting thing."

Clifford took charge of some of the college's multimedia efforts this year, including Yavapai College's recently reinvigorated Facebook page.

The Yavapai College Twitter account, which has 356 followers, hasn't been updated in two years. Some college sports have their own pages, and are updated more frequently.

"Facebook - that's really what we've been focusing on, and so far the response has been great," Clifford said. "It's takes a little time to catch up with the technology, but we're coming along."

You can use Twitter, twitter.com, to follow the Arizona Sundogs, @ArizonaSundogs, Brett Murdock, @B_Murdock1320, and Yavapai College, @YavapaiCollege, among others.

You can also follow Peter Marx, The Daily Courier associate sports editor, @PrescottDC.

The Daily Courier also has a Twitter account, @TheDailyCourier.

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