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COLUMN: I often work 140 characters at a time

Twitter has become a powerful sports source, and here’s who you need to follow

July 19, 2012
By Troy Banning - Sports Editor ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

My wife hits the snooze button (about 48 times). Others probably get up, flip on the coffee pot and wonder why eight hours of sleep felt like two.

Me? It's the same routine every morning, and it's proof of my addiction. Because not 30 seconds after my eyes open, my phone is in my hand so I can check my Twitter feed.

Go ahead, roll your eyes and call me crazy. My wife does, so why shouldn't you?

I've come to terms with it though. In my line of work, Twitter is an essential tool. Information, opinion, images - anything and everything in the world of sports is there at the touch of the finger. As a sports journalist, I'd be crazy not to take advantage.

If you follow me, then you know what I'm talking about. When I'm at a game, my fingers are flying across the small keyboard on my phone during every break in the action. It's arguably the quickest and easiest way to receive moment-to-moment updates - scores, statistics, and my sometimes well-received and other times hated opinions.

But don't take my word for it. Give me a follow and try it out (@TroyBanning), and if you aren't completely satisfied, you'll receive a full refund.

Oh, that's right. Twitter is a free service. Never mind.

But if you're a passionate sports fan, then I've got eight other individuals you should be following. They're my personal picks, if you will.

8. Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33) - Followers: 1,762,844

Look, the Sports Guy can be polarizing (although not as much as another guy a little higher up on my list) and, yeah, at times he can be a whiny baby when it comes to his beloved Boston Red Sox and Celtics.

I get it. A lot of people don't like Simmons. But here's what he has going for him -

Simmons, a former columnist for ESPN The Magazine and the wizard of blending sports and pop culture, is the editor-in-chief of the popular sports website, and many of its essays (they're way too long to be considered articles or columns) are must read. The retrospective did recently on the Brawl at the Palace was stellar.

7. Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) - Followers: 1,672,715

Schefter has become the Mother Ship's (aka ESPN) premier reporter when it comes to inside information on pro football, in my opinion. And Schefter knows how to work Twitter; the dirt he uncovers is published for the masses the moment it leaves his sources' lips.

6. Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) - Followers: 518

I'll admit, this is a bit of a homer pick. Hines - currently a sports reporter at the Marshalltown Times-Republican - is a friend of mine, although the fact that he recently blew past me in followers isn't helping his cause.

There are few journalists that are as committed to Twitter. Hines tweets relentlessly on all things ISU, from what a future Cyclone had for breakfast this morning (OK, that's a stretch) to the up-to-the-minute information on what's going on with the ISU teams.

I swear, I don't think Hines ever sleeps. At night, he heads home to watch movies and tweet about them until the sun comes up, and he'll even quote entire movies like he did with Die Hard 2 last winter.

No joke.

5. Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) - Followers: 135,753

Whitlock is the definition of polarizing. The national columnist for has got an opinion on everything, and oftentimes he takes the contrarian role just to ruffle feathers, at least that's how it appears.

I don't like everything, or even much, of what Whitlock writes. But he makes me think, and don't we all need a little of that?

But Jason, please, enough with The Wire references!

4. Marc Morehouse (@marcmorehouse) - Followers: 8,823

Morehouse is the Iowa football beat writer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and, much like Hines with ISU, he's got the Hawkeyes covered from head to toe. He also loves his hockey and his microbrew, but that's beside the point.

3. Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) - Followers: 883,562

Nobody receives more Twitter hate (or at least no one retweets as much) as King, the writer of Monday Morning Quarterback for, and I really don't get it.

I find King to be the beacon of reliability when it comes to the NFL and, come on, how can you not like Monday Morning QB?

2. Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) - Followers: 48,319

How Doyel doesn't have more followers, I'll never know. A columnist for, Doyel isn't afraid to take on anybody. I wouldn't be surprised if some day he wrote a piece attacking the Easter Bunny.

But that's why I love his columns and thoughts on Twitter. Doyel doesn't smooch the behind of any athlete, coach, or team. He writes it like he sees it, and whether you agree or disagree, you have to respect a columnist like that.

1. Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) - Followers: 105,694

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I have a serious man crush on Wetzel, a national columnist for Yahoo! Sports. If you need proof of his genius, then please, please, please read his columns during the Jerry Sandusky trial, and the pieces he's written on the Penn State scandal since (they can all be found on his twitter feed).

The guy is a genius, and I don't say that sarcastically. Truly, he's the writer I want to be when I grow up.



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