Behind The Scenes

espnW Hackathon: Competition held to create digital products for female sports fans

PALO ALTO, Calif. — At first it seems like an odd mix: espnW at a “hackathon” in Silicon Valley encouraging digital media developers to use ESPN APIs.

But like many things at ESPN, sometimes when you try something new, stuff just clicks.

It turns out there is a symbiotic relationship between women technology developers and women sports fans. In fact, at the “espnW Hack Day at Stanford University” this past weekend — ESPN’s first ever external “hackathon” — it was confirmed that many female hackers and sports fans are one and the same.

Graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University, the espnW Hack Day winners, with ESPN representatives Laura Gentile (L), Marly Ellis (C) and Chris Jason (R). (ESPN)

With access to ESPN’s API platform and APIs from “espnW Hack Day” partners Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twilio and others, more than 150 female developers and designers (plus a few men) came together to compete and create new digital products for female sports fans.

Participants formed 20 teams, creating entries that were judged by a seven-person panel made up of leaders from “Hack Day” partner companies, as well as Stanford.

“When we first thought of making our first external hackathon focused on women developers with espnW, there were doubts about the potential turnout,” said Chris Jason, Director of ESPN’s API Program.

“Obviously, those doubts were unfounded. The participation was overwhelming, and all the ideas and creativity were incredible.”

Nothing impressed more than a team of graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University, whose entry named “iSports,” which incorporated face-recognition technology and ESPN’s API to help fans identify and access stats and information about professional athletes, was named the overall winner for “Best Use of ESPN API.”

The team from Carnegie Mellon was awarded a trip to Bristol, Conn. for a VIP tour of campus and an ESPN Technology meet-and-greet, as well as tickets to their choice of any regular season game.

That’s not bad at all for just one day — a Hack of a Day — of work.

espnW Hackathon judges:

Sophia Chung (Software Engineer, Facebook)
Sara Haider (Sr. Software Engineer, Twitter for Android)
Danielle Teidt (CMO, YouTube)
Rob King(SVP Editorial, ESPN Digital and Print Media)
Ann Grimes (Director of Graduate Program in Journalism, Stanford University)
Justin Ferrell (Director of Fellowships, Stanford University
Nikki Katz (VP, Product Management, The Walt Disney Company)

Video produced by Kevin Ota.

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