In this day and age, most sports teams, leagues and even some players have their own mobile app. It's become somewhat of a necessity, even if certain teams aren't exactly taking full advantage of the new technology.

On Friday the sports app scene is expected to take a large step forward, as FIFA is launching what it says will become "the most downloaded sports app ever." An audacious claim, sure, but FIFA is basing that estimate on the enormous traffic its website receives during tournament months. According to a press release, the worldwide soccer governing body says FIFA.com has topped 7 billion page views and 150 million unique visitors during certain months.

The organization estimates that the app will be downloaded more than 70 million times in the next few months. The app's launch on Friday is set to coincide with the revealing of the draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Among other features, the app includes a World Match Center,which allows fans personalized coverage of their favorite teams.

"Our mission is not only to develop the game, but to touch the world and build a better future," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said. "With the official FIFA app, we are using mobile technology -- the most personal technology ever known -- to unite and inspire fans, ensuring they never miss a moment of the beautiful game."

The app, which is free, will be available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. For more information on how to download the app, see here.

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Thanks to a cool new initiative from Turner Sports and CBS, fans will have options when it comes to viewing the 2014 Final Four.

The traditional national telecast on TBS, likely featuring Jim Nantz, Steve Kerr, Greg Anthony and Tracy Wolfson, will remain the same. But Turner and CBS will offer two alternative telecasts geared towards the competing teams' fan bases.

For example, if Michigan State and Kansas were to square off in one semifinal, TNT would use announcers with some connection to Michigan State while truTV would have a Kansas-centric broadcast.

"This concept is born out of the popularity and incredible passion fans have for their college basketball teams and schools," Lenny Daniels, Turner's executive vice president and COO, told Sports Business Journal, "and with this innovative approach we are tapping into their enthusiasm with three distinct telecasts."

Assuming the network can find qualified and competent broadcasters in the short window between the Elite Eight and the Final Four, this seems like a great idea. College fans have a remarkable passion for their schools, and offering a customized perspective might draw in more viewers.

While the national broadcast of the semifinals will be on cable for the first time, the national championship game will remain on CBS.

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis recently got to live out every gamer's fantasy during a dream "internship" at Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Willis, a six-time Pro Bowler, got an up-close look at how the game is produced. From recording dialogue for the characters to putting on a motion-tracking suit, Willis experienced it all.

And, of course, he got a sneak peek at the highly anticipated new game, which was released this week.

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By Karin Heineman
SportTechie/Inside Science

In sports such as tennis, softball or swimming, many athletes have a high risk of shoulder injury. These injuries often occur due to overuse, poor technique, or fatigue, among other causes. Baseball coaches in particular can find it challenging to keep an injury-free pitcher on the mound, which is crucial to winning games.

"Their arm strength and their fatigue is critical because they are involved in every play,” said Tim Pfeiffer, a high school baseball coach in Chicago.

In a well-rested pitcher, the bones and muscles in the shoulder move together in a rhythm. But when the muscles are overused and tired, the movements are often thrown out of sync. This can lead to chronic shoulder injuries.

Pietro Tonino, an orthopedic surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, and his team have studied a new 3-D motion detection system that would help identify pitchers at risk for shoulder injuries much sooner.

“With this system, you can pick up small differences in this rhythm and say that maybe they’re fatiguing,” explained Tonino.

The tracking system uses sensors placed on a pitcher's arm and shoulder. Each of the sensors contains a 3-D gyroscope, a 3-D magnetometer and a 3-D accelerometer that together collect information about a pitcher’s arm movement and rhythm. If a pitcher's throwing motion shows abnormalities, then they could recommend strengthening exercises or physical therapy for the pitcher before he or she suffers a major injury.

Results from tests of the portable system showed that over 38 percent of players had abnormal rhythm patterns after 60 pitches. Researchers say prevention is the key to keep the MVPs in the game.

"Without them we can't play the game, so, they start and finish every play,” Pfeiffer said.

The tracking system can also be used to detect abnormalities in athletes in tennis, softball and volleyball.

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On online dating sites like OkCupid or eHarmony, users can sort potential matches based on lots of criteria. Location, interests and religion are just a few of the many matching tools used by the websites.

But until now, there was no website or app designed specifically to connect fans of the same team. And seeing as mutual fandom is one of the strongest bonds around, it would make sense for someone to create an app centered around sports.

Enter NFL Network broadcaster Rich Eisen.

Eisen has helped create a new dating app, called Free Agent, which allows fans of the same team in the same general area to connect with each other.

“There are hundreds of millions of people on dating apps every day, but apparently no such apps cater solely to sports fans,” Eisen told Forbes. ”My wife and I met in the newsroom of ESPN (which technically makes our children ESPN babies) so it hit me: without sports I may never have met my wife. I wanted to create an app that would provide the same type of meeting place, whether it’s mobile, in the stadium or at a college campus."

Through the app, which has already launched in Los Angeles and will soon be available in New York, users can browse 200 fans within 50 miles for no charge. The site will be especially busy during games or right after that big trade, when every fan has something to say.

Free Agent has partnered with Nike, giving fans the opportunity to win free gear after signing up. And perhaps if all goes well for a pair of fans who meet on Free Agent, Eisen might even make an appearance at the wedding.


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